Higgs Boson: Brunel University researchers respond to new particle discovery

Published: Wednesday 4 July 2012
Higgs Boson - Collisions
Graphic showing real proton-proton collision events in the CMS experiment. Credit: CERN

Brunel University researchers involved in pioneering work at the Large Hadron Collider, CERN, have given their reaction to the discovery of a new particle consistent with the long-sought Higgs Boson.

The results, which mark a significant breakthrough in our understanding of the fundamental laws that govern the Universe, were announced at a seminar held at CERN, the European Particle Physics Laboratory, on 4 July. Preliminary findings from two separate experiments appear to show a dramatic 5 sigma signal, meaning it has just a one in 350 million chance of being false – the standard required for a confirmed discovery.

If this is indeed a new particle, then it must be a boson and it would be the heaviest such particle ever found.

The Brunel team, led by Professor Peter Hobson alongside academics Dr Jo Cole, Professor Akram Khan, Dr Paul Kyberd, Dr Dawn Leslie and Dr Liliana Teodorescu, have been members of the Compact Muon Solenoid (CMS) experiment at CERN since 1995.

Professor Hobson said: “The fantastic results shown this morning at CERN strongly suggest that a new massive particle has been discovered. Although one cannot say definitively that it is the long sought-for Higgs boson, it is certainly compatible with it. I’m very proud that Brunel, as a member of the CMS collaboration, has played a role in this discovery and look forward to a long and exciting future for us in helping to understand the fundamental physics of the universe.”

The CMS experiment is a general-purpose particle detector which investigates a wide range of physics, including the search for the Higgs boson, extra dimensions, and particles that could make up dark matter.

The Brunel group has contributed to the design, construction and operation of the experiment and is now involved in analysing the data collected in 2011-12. It has specific operational responsibilities for the part of the detector that measures the energies of electrons and photons produced in the primary proton collisions. Supported by PhD students, the group is currently focusing on analysis of the properties of the heavy “top” quark, and on the development of new techniques for data analysis to help separate rare events from the large backgrounds encountered.

The UK is a world leader in particle physics and has played a central role in research at CERN, from the theorists who formulated the model known as the Higgs mechanism, to the engineers and scientists who have designed, built and exploited the LHC – one of the most complex scientific instruments ever built.

View the Science and Technology Facilities Council press release

View the CMS Experiment statement

Page last updated: Friday 06 July 2012