04.07.2012 - Natural Sciences Sector / ICTP / CERN

Introducing the Higgs boson

© CERN 2012 Simulated Higgs event to four muons, ATLAS experiment

UNESCO and the Abdus Salam International Centre for Theoretical Physics (ICTP) congratulate CERN for its latest discovery, a new subatomic particle that behaves much like the elusive Higgs boson. This discovery was announced today as the ATLAS and CMS experiments presented their latest preliminary results in the search for the long sought Higgs particle. Both experiments observe a new particle in the mass region around 125-126 GeV, with 99.9999% certainty.

"This is indeed a new particle. We know it must be a boson and it’s the heaviest boson ever found,” said CMS experiment spokesperson Joe Incandela. “The implications are very significant and it is precisely for this reason that we must be extremely diligent in all of our studies and cross-checks."
“The outstanding performance of the Large Hadron Collider and ATLAS and the huge efforts of many people have brought us to this exciting stage,” added ATLAS experiment spokesperson Fabiola Gianotti.

ICTP and the University of Udine have been jointly involved in the ATLAS experiment that examines the debris of particle collisions at the LHC to discover new particles such as the Higgs boson. The scientists have been looking for the Higgs by removing the data from other particles that behave similarly, rather like removing noisy static while hunting for a radio signal, as the Higgs decays too fast to detect directly. A more complete picture of today’s observations will emerge later this year after the LHC provides the experiments with more data.

ICTP physicist Bobby Acharya, who leads ICTP's participation in the ATLAS experiment, is thinking ahead excitedly: "Now that we know a new particle is there, we will study its properties in more details. It probably is the Higgs, which represents the end to a search that has gone on for decades to find the missing piece of the Standard Model puzzle. For ICTP this is an incredibly important result given the fundamental role that Abdus Salam played in the development of the Standard Model of Particle Physics." Positive identification of the new particle’s characteristics will take considerable time and data, but this day marks the beginning of a new understanding of the fundamental structure of matter.

The idea of establishing a European Council for Nuclear Research was raised at the fifth session of the UNESCO General Conference, held in Florence, Italy, in 1950. It was established in 1954 and later became the European Organization for Nuclear Research, while keeping its historical acronym: CERN.

While CERN places its scientific expertise at UNESCO’s disposal under SESAME and other initiatives, such as virtual libraries in African universities and teacher training, UNESCO’s International Basic Sciences Programme (IBSP) offers CERN a framework for cooperation with researchers from countries that are not CERN members.

The Abdus Salam International Centre for Theoretical Physics (ICTP) is a UNESCO Category 1 Institute, meaning that is is an integral part of UNESCO.
For more than 45 years, ICTP has been a driving force behind global efforts to advance scientific expertise in the developing world. Founded in 1964 by the late Nobel Laureate Abdus Salam, ICTP seeks to accomplish its mandate by providing scientists from developing countries with the continuing education and skills that they need to enjoy long and productive careers. The Centre operates under a tripartite agreement with the Government of Italy, UNESCO and the IAEA.

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