Physics Colloquium: “The Dawn of the Higgs Era” with Dr. Joseph Izen, University of Texas at Dallas
CERN was buzzing at the start of July. Physicists on ATLAS and CMS, the two big experiments knew something but weren’t talking. Physics spouses made phone calls, only to learn that their friends were equally thwarted.
Word that Peter Higgs was sighted in the CERN cafeteria on July 3 spread like a wildfire. Students queued up overnight for the Higgs seminar like it was a Grateful Dead concert.
On July 4, the world learned that ATLAS and CMS had discovered a Higgs candidate with a π-significance of 5 standard deviations (σ).
Unlike massless photons, the gauge bosons of the weak interaction are very massive; they are not made by flashlights but by accelerators like the Large Hadron Collider.
Over forty years ago, Glashow, Weinberg, and Salaam developed a theory of weak interactions. The theory made extraordinary but testable predictions of a new kind neutrino scattering and a massive version of the photon. The most spectacular part of the theory was the Higgs mechanism that was invented to allow weak bosons to have mass, but incidentally predicted a new type of fundamental particle, the Higgs boson, and it explained meaning of the mass of fundamental particles like quarks and electrons.
The colloquium is hosted by the ASU Society of Physics Students and is open free to ASU faculty, staff and students.