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Jul. 03, 2012

Picturing the Higgs

by Annette Heist

Click to enlarge images
Click on icon in upper right corner of slideshow to enlarge images.
 
Physicists at CERN--the particle accelerator complex on the Swiss-French border--are expected to announce tomorrow that they've found proof of the Higgs boson elementary particle, predicted by the Standard Model of physics.
 
We'll talk more about the announcement on the show this Friday, with theoretical physicist Sean Carroll, who headed to CERN this week in anticipation of the news.
 
So what might evidence for the Higgs look like? In the aftermath of high-energy collisions, physicists can't see the Higgs directly, so they look for the particles that the Higgs is predicted to decay into, including Z bosons, which then decay to muons. According to CERN, the event pictured in the image above is "consistent with coming from two Z particles decaying: both Z particles decay to two muons each." The four muons are shown as red tracks. Carroll says the image is "exactly the kind of thing a Higgs would produce." 
 
Click on the slide show for more images from CERN (real and simulated.) And tune in Friday for more on tomorrow's announcement.
 
(For a great explanation of the relationship between the Higgs, Z particles and muons, go here.)

 

About Annette Heist

Annette Heist is a former senior producer for Science Friday.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Science Friday.

Science Friday® is produced by the Science Friday Initiative, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.

Science Friday® and SciFri® are registered service marks of Science Friday, Inc. Site design by Pentagram; engineering by Mediapolis.

 

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