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The Higgs Boson: Is the End in Sight?
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1.Don Lincoln, The Quantum Frontier: The Large Hadron Collider (Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, 2009).
2.Ian Sample, Massive: The Hunt for the God Particle (Virgin Books, Ireland, 2010).
3.Don Lincoln, Understanding the Universe: From Quarks to the Cosmos (Revised) (World Scientific Press, Singapore, 2012).
4.Bruce Schumm, Deep Down Things: The Breathtaking Beauty of Particle Physics (Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, 2004).
5. Ref. 3, pp. 306312.
View: Figures


Image of Fig. 1.

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Fig. 1.

The Standard Model is the most successful description of the behavior of matter ever devised. The quark and lepton fermions, combined with the force-carrying bosons, can explain all data taken to date. The ghostly Higgs boson is the final piece remaining to be discovered. (Figure courtesy of Fermilab.)

Image of Fig. 2.

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Fig. 2.

While the production of Higgs boson is dominated by virtual top quarks originating from gluons in the beams, there are other ways in which it can be created. In this example, two virtual electroweak bosons are initially produced, which annihilate and create a Higgs boson.

Image of Fig. 3.

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Fig. 3.

The decay fractions of the Higgs boson are completely specified by the theory for each value of the mass of the Higgs boson. This plot shows the range of possible decay modes.

Image of Fig. 4.

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Fig. 4.

While the Higgs boson preferentially decays into the heaviest particles consistent with energy conservation, through the intermediate decay into top quarks or W bosons, the Higgs can convert into two photons. This is an especially clear production mechanism and is therefore a dominant method to search for Higgs bosons at the LHC. The decay percentages for this mechanism are too small to show up in Fig. 3.

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Fig. 5.

The CMS detector is the most massive particle detector at a particle collider. The white dots in the yellow region (center bottom) are hard hats worn by people. (Figure courtesy of CERN.)

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Fig. 6.

The ATLAS detector is the largest particle detector at a particle collider. If you look closely, you see a person standing near the center of the detector. (Figure courtesy of CERN.)

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Fig. 7.

The announcement of evidence of a new boson was followed by a press conference, attended by international media. L to r: Fabiola Gianotti (leader of ATLAS), Rolf-Dieter Heuer (CERN director), and Joe Incandela (leader of CMS). (Figure courtesy of CERN.)

Image of Fig. 8.

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Fig. 8.

This data distribution shows the ATLAS collaboration's study of diphoton production. The small bump at a mass of near 125 GeV indicates the observation of a new boson that is consistent with being the Higgs boson. (Figure courtesy of CERN and the ATLAS collaboration.)


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This summer, perhaps while you were lounging around the pool in the blistering heat, the blogosphere was buzzing about data taken at the Large Hadron Collider1 at CERN. The buzz reached a crescendo in the first week of July when both Fermilab and CERN announced the results of their searches for the Higgs boson. Hard data confronted a theory nearly half a century old and the theory survived.


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Scitation: The Higgs Boson: Is the End in Sight?