Higgs boson discovery - time to celebrate

4 July 2012

University of Oxford physicists working both at CERN and in Oxford are today celebrating their part in the discovery of a new particle. An excess of collision events has been observed by both the ATLAS and CMS experiments at CERN. The signals are consistent with those expected from the long-anticipated Higgs boson. Each experiment has separately observed a "5-sigma" excess, meeting the gold standard of confidence in discovery of a new particle.

The Higgs boson is central to the Standard Model of particle physics, since it is through the associated Higgs field that the other fundamental particles are endowed with their mass. The Higgs particle is a corner-stone of the mathematical theory of the subatomic world - and one of the most important components of the make-up of the universe as a whole.

Here in Oxford, physicists, technicians and engineers were responsible for designing, assembling, testing and then operating the SemiConductor tracker of the ATLAS experiment, a precision tracking detector which has been essential to the identification of the electrons and muons which signaled the new discovery. The group has also been playing key roles in the operations, computing and data analysis for the ATLAS experiment.

It will take time to be sure whether or not the particle discovered really does have the right properties to be the Higgs boson - and in the future the upgraded Large Hadron Collider may have more surprises in store - but for today the Oxford team is simply delighted to have played our part in such an historic discovery.

If you have an Android phone you can view the Higgs boson collisions in 3D with Oxford's LHSee phone application.