“If it’s just a fluctuation of background, it will take a lot of data to kill.” Dr. Fabiola Gianotti, spokesperson for the ATLAS collaboration, made this statement on Dec. 13, 2011 during a special seminar I attended at CERN. Within the minute that followed, I hurriedly concocted a tweet, tacked on #Higgs and #CERN hashtags, and sent Fabiola’s weighty comment out onto the WWW.
The Lepton Photon 2011 conference began on Monday in Mumbai, India. Over 400 physicists from all over the world (including me!) gathered to hear the latest results. One result in particular -- news on the search for the Higgs boson -- was foremost in people's minds, and rather than prolong the suspense further, the talks on the Higgs were scheduled right after the welcoming speeches.
For the last months (which feel like years…) I’ve been working, within a small group of people, on the precision measurement of the top quark pair production cross section, and if you think that sounds complicated – the German word is “Top-Quark-Paarproduktionswechselwirkungsquerschnitt”.
In particle physics, we describe the number of interesting particle collisions that we have in our data in terms of the "integrated luminosity", which is measured in units called inverse femtobarns. In the whole of 2010, the LHC delivered about 0.04 inverse femtobarns (about 3 million million collisions). Nowadays, it can deliver twice that in a single day!
I happened to run into Andrey Korytov after his eagerly awaited CMS Higgs talk. No, CMS had not yet seen the Higgs, and ATLAS could breathe a sigh of relief.
Well it's been a few days since the Higgs presentations at EPS, and I'm just recovering from the lack of sleep. It's ironic that I have a newborn daughter, and my sleep deprivation is due to work.
When I was invited to give a talk on behalf of ATLAS at this summer’s European Physical Society High Energy Physics conference (EPS), I wasn’t really sure what to expect. Most conferences I have been to are relatively intimate affairs where you have long discussions after every talk and then everybody trots down to the pub together to discuss the day’s results. EPS, though, is one of the largest particle physics conferences in the world. Or at least I reckon it is, having eyeballed the number of participants registered on the website, hailing from all sorts of fields ranging from astrophysics to ultra relativistic ions to our very own LHC proton-proton collider physics.
Beneath our feet on this warm November night, we have realized the ancient dream of turning lead into gold.
Another milestone has been passed in the long run of ATLAS toward new physics. On Monday August 9, 2010 ATLAS has recorded the first inverse picobarn (pb-1) of 7 TeV collisions. The trend is good and we recently reached the 0.1 pb-1 per day of integrated luminosity (meaning that we can now collect in ~10 days the amount of data we have collected over the last 4 months).
ATLAS is about to check one more particle off of its Standard Model (SM) checklist. Namely the top quark. This famous quark is perhaps one of the most complex of the SM particles.