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QM scientists celebrate Higgs boson discovery

Scientists at Queen Mary, University of London taking part in the ATLAS particle physics experiment at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) in Geneva are ecstatic about new results released today which confirmed the discovery of a new particle consistent with the Higgs boson.

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The Higgs boson is the elementary particle needed to explain why and how particles have mass. Until today, the ‘Standard Model’ of particle physics was unable to fully explain why the most fundamental particles of the universe had mass and why they were different. The discovery of the Higgs boson is the first step towards filling this gap.

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.

“The group at Queen Mary have worked very hard for many years now and we are one of the leading UK hardware groups in this area,” said Steve Lloyd, Professor of Experimental Particle Physics at Queen Mary.

“It is great to see even this hint of a discovery from work done here at Queen Mary. We can’t say it’s definitely the Higgs but it sure looks like one.”

Researchers at Queen Mary were integral to the development and maintenance of ATLAS software as well as providing computing resources at Queen Mary dedicated to the LHC computing grid.

The global computing infrastructure connects 200,000 computers providing 24/7 access to the resources needed by particle physicists. Queen Mary has been involved since 2001 and has grown to become one of the best performing sites on the grid. This year alone, Queen Mary has processed more than 11PB of data from 15 million files.

Dr Alex Martin who manages the QM grid cluster said: “Only 10 years ago the idea of having 400 sites around the world pooling computing resources was a pipe dream. Now it is the primary way for researchers to access and analyse the data from the LHC.

“We got involved at the start and in the intervening decade have become a major contributor to crunching LHC data. We are now the fourth largest of all the ATLAS sites worldwide based on how much data we have processed.”

The UK is a world leader in particle physics and has played a central role in this research, 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.

The UK’s Minister for Universities and Science, David Willets, said: “This news from CERN (the home of the LHC) is a breakthrough in world science. The UK has made an enormous contribution over the last 20 years supporting the search for the Higgs boson. Our researchers, universities and industry partners have been instrumental in making the LHC such a success.”

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