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Queen Mary scientists help narrow down search for the Higgs boson

Queen Mary researchers taking part in the ATLAS particle physics experiment at the Large Hadron Collider in Geneva have released the latest results of their search for the elusive Higgs Boson.

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The ATLAS detector
The ATLAS detector

The Higgs boson is thought to be responsible for the origin of mass in the Universe, and is the last predicted particle of the ‘Standard Model’ of particle physics which explains how particles and forces interact.

The particle physics group at Queen Mary has been involved in the design and construction of essential components of the ATLAS apparatus, as well as analysis of the data.

Both the ATLAS and CMS experiments at the LHC are systematically looking for the Higgs Boson across a wide search area. The latest results from both experiments show a similar ‘bump’ in the data at the same mass, which could be the subtle signal of the Higgs Boson. The fact that both experiments have shown a ‘bump’ in the same place is very exciting for physicists.

Dr Eram Rizvi, from the School of Physics and Astronomy, explains: “A major goal of the LHC is to discover the Higgs, or an alternative responsible for the mass of fundamental particles. If the Higgs exists then only a narrow range of masses for the particle remains open. And if it doesn’t exist then the search for new physics will intensify. The particle physics community feels as if it’s on the cusp of finding something new.”

While the latest findings are a major step towards resolving this long-standing puzzle, the significance of the findings is not yet compelling enough to claim a discovery - there is still a 2-3 per cent chance that the fluctuations in the data are a statistical anomaly.

The LHC is set to continue operation in March next year after a scheduled winter maintenance shutdown.

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