Scientists join quest for Higgs particle

Scientists from Edinburgh are to join the quest for the Higgs boson particle at CERN in Switzerland.

The Atlas detector at the large Hadron Collider at CERN

The researchers will join an international collaboration at the Large Hadron Collider seeking to verify the existence of the sub-atomic particle, a tiny yet crucial building block of physical matter.

The experiments will seek to answer questions about the way in which fundamental matter acquires mass and help address many long-standing questions of theoretical physics.

Higgs theory

Emeritus Professor Peter Higgs predicted the existence of the Higgs particle while working at the University in the 1960s.

If experiments at CERN’s massive atom-smasher prove the Professor’s theory correct, he is tipped to win the Nobel Prize for physics.

Joining the research at CERN are Dr Philip Clark, Dr Victoria Martin, Dr Andy Buckley, Dr Wahid Bhimji and Dr Andy Washbrook together with students Ben Wynne, Ben Smart and Brendan O’Brien and technician Andrew Main.

Impact of research

The team will work on the Atlas detector, one of four experiments analysing collisions at the Large Hadron Collider as it aims to recreate the conditions of the Big Bang.

Their work will involve modelling the particle collision process in order to understand the detector response and the complex data produced by the experiments.

They will also contribute to the operation of the detector itself and provide software to manage the data produced.

Global partnership

Physicists from Edinburgh are already involved in another project at CERN but, until now, have not taken part directly in the search for the Higgs boson.

The Edinburgh team joins the Atlas collaboration, involving 2900 people in 37 countries, after a year of preparation with support from colleagues at other institutions in the Scottish Universities Physics Alliance.

This project represents the pinnacle of the UK’s ongoing research in particle physics, and is likely to dominate the field for the next 15 years. Our work could contribute to a paradigm shift in our understanding of the physical universe.

Dr Philip ClarkSchool of Physics and Astronomy