Thursday, 12 July 2012

LHC as Cathedral

Much has been written about the cathedral-like qualities of the LHC detectors, CMS and ATLAS.
A new set of images published on the blog, Does It Float beautifully communicates the site's visual grandeur.

All Images © CERN.

Source: Does It Float 

Monday, 9 July 2012

Listening to the Aurora

For centuries, folklore has reported that people have been able to hear, as well as see, the Northern Lights, or the aurora borealis. For the first time, researchers in Finland have been able to provide
evidence of what these historical listeners may have been detecting.

The "auroral sounds" are formed about 70 meters above the ground level, according to a team from Aalto University in Finland. They report that "researchers located the sound sources by installing three separate microphones in an observation site where the auroral sounds were recorded. They then compared sounds captured by the microphones and determined the location of the sound source. The aurora borealis was seen at the observation site. The simultaneous measurements of the geomagnetic disturbances, made by the Finnish Meteorological Institute, showed a typical pattern of the northern lights episodes."

Science Daily noted that: "Details about how the auroral sounds are created are still a mystery. The sounds do not occur regularly when the northern lights are seen. The recorded, unamplified sounds can be similar to crackles or muffled bangs which last for only a short period of time. Other people who have heard the auroral sounds have described them as distant noise and sputter. Because of these different descriptions, researchers suspect that there are several mechanisms behind the formation of these auroral sounds. These sounds are so soft that one has to listen very carefully to hear them and to distinguish them from the ambient noise."

Professor Unto Laine from Aalto University commented, "our research proved that, during the occurrence of the northern lights, people can hear natural auroral sounds related to what they see. In the past, researchers thought that the aurora borealis was too far away for people to hear the sounds it made. This is true. However, our research proves that the source of the sounds that are associated with the aurora borealis we see is likely caused by the same energetic particles from the sun that create the northern lights far away in the sky. These particles or the geomagnetic disturbance produced by them seem to create sound much closer to the ground."


Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Science History is Made

This is the moment history was made.

In an emotional seminar on 4 July between 0900 - 1100 CEST, CERN scientists presented overwhelming evidence for a new particle, consistent with descriptions of the Higgs boson.

Joe Incandela first revealed that CMS have significant evidence of a new boson at 125.3 GeV. Huge applause greeted his news that CMS rate the significance of the results 4.9 sigma. Fabiola Gianotti, head of ATLAS followed, noting with her customary humour and humility, "it's not easy to speak second as all the clever things have been said".
After a lengthy recap on their work from 2011, Gianotti revealed, "you see the excellent consistency everywhere, except one big spike here ....".

The room erupted in spontaneous applause as Gianotti showed that ATLAS have evidence of a new boson at 126.5 GeV with a significance of 5 sigma.

These levels of certainty are worthy of a discovery, prompting CERN director, Rolf Dieter Heuer to comment, "as a layman, I can say, I think we have it".

The particle has been the subject of a 45-year hunt to explain how matter attains its mass.

Both CMS and ATLAS have been quick to caution that more data is needed before they can confirm that their boson discovery is indeed the Higgs mechanism described by theorists. As Rolf Dieter Heuer stressed in the press conference afterward, "we can say we've found a Higgs boson; not the Higgs boson". But it is absolutely evident that whatever has been discovered is what the LHC was designed to detect. The data analysed by both ATLAS and the CMS in the forthcoming months will provide further detail about the precise nature of the new boson.  As Gianotti said, "we are entering the era of Higgs measurements".

Theorist Ignatios Antoniadis commented on the implications of the announcement for theoretical descriptions of the Universe.  "Because of its low mass, such a Higgs boson would allow us to rule out theories known as “technicolor” and some of the theoretical models used in supersymmetry. However, other supersymmetric scenarios could still apply, as well as extra-dimensional theories."

Image by Samuel Richards.


CERN have found the Higgs boson

ATLAS and CMS have found a particle consistent with the descriptions of the Higgs boson! They revealed their results this morning at a dramatic seminar at CERN.

The results from both Joe Incandela from CMS and Fabiola Gianotti of ATLAS were complementary, showing a 4.9 - 5.0 sigma result of a boson a 125-126 GeV.

"You see the excellent consistency everywhere, except one big spike here ...." Fabiola Gianotti, head of ATLAS revealed at the seminar, sparking a huge round of applause from the physicists attending the seminar. "We are now entering the era of Higgs measurements" she added.

Rolf Dieter Heuer, director of CERN said, "As a layman, I think I can say, I think we have it. We have a discovery. We have a particle consistent with the Higgs boson".

Peter Higgs, one of the theorists who described the Higgs mechanism in the 1960s who were present at the seminar, commented, "I think it's incredible it happened in my lifetime".

The Higgs seminar

As we speak ATLAS and CMS are presenting their latest efforts in the search for the Higgs boson at a seminar at CERN near Geneva, which is being simulcast to the ICHEP physics conference in Melbourne. Our friend, Samuel Richards is at ICHEP in Melbourne at to document the seminar for us.
Here's a shot of an earlier briefing. Stay tuned for more ...


Tuesday, 3 July 2012

We'll be at the Higgs seminar in Melbourne

On 4 July at 0900 CEST, one of the most hotly anticipated science seminars in a decade will be held, announcing new results from the CMS and ATLAS experiments at the LHC, which are both searching for the Higgs boson.

The seminar will be held live from CERN in Geneva and simulcast to the Conference on High Energy Physics (ICHEP) in Melbourne.
And we'll be there.

Our friend, Samuel Richards, a filmmaker from New Zealand will be on hand in Melbourne at ICHEP to document the seminar, and we'll be posting his thoughts and photographs here.

For background reading on why all this matters, take a look at these excellent primers from ATLAS physicist, Jon Butterworth and theoretical physicist, Sean Carroll.

Image © Samuel Richards

Monday, 2 July 2012

Has the Higgs been Found at CERN?

Nature are this evening sensationally reporting that CERN may well have discovered the Higgs boson.

Both ATLAS and CMS are presenting their latest research at a seminar in Melbourne on 4 July and the blogosphere has been alive with speculation about what they'll be unveiling.

But today, Nature have run an exclusive story confirming that a discovery has been made:

"Without a doubt, we have a discovery", says one member of the team working on the ATLAS experiment."It is pure elation!"

Nature are coy about the precise details of the discovery, cautioning that it is not yet known if the new particle behaves the same way as the Higgs mechanism is described in the Standard Model of physics.

But it is believed that both the ATLAS and CMS experiments are each seeing signals between 4.5 and 5 sigma in the 125 GeV range, where they first reported seeing signs of the Higgs last December.

Crucially, CERN have confirmed that four of the theorists who conceived the Higgs mechanism in the 1960s - including Peter Higgs - will be present at Wednesday's seminar.
It is hard to believe that all would have flown in to attend, if significant news wasn't being announced.