In the first run of the Large Hadron Collider, almost a billion proton-proton collisions took place every second in the centre of the ATLAS detector. That amounts to enough data to fill 100,000 CDs each second. If you stacked the CDs on top of each other, in a year it would reach the moon four times. Only a small fraction of the observed proton–proton collisions have interesting characteristics that might lead to discoveries. How does ATLAS deal with this mountain of data?
The ATLAS experiment released preliminary results on 26 Nov 2013 that show evidence, with a significance of 4.1 standard deviations that the Higgs boson decays to two taus, which are fermions. This is exciting news. But what makes this measurement important?
Hold out your hand and in one minute hundreds of muons will have passed through your palm. Muons are one of the high-energy cosmic ray particles that can pass through most solid structures – even the ATLAS detector’s calorimeter, which is designed to absorb particles and measure their energy. A specific system is required to measure muons. Until now, the ATLAS muon system was almost completed, but not quite. The last of the 62 chambers in the Extended Endcap (EE) region was installed just before summer this year.
More than 70,000 people visited CERN Open Days over the weekend, with 20,000 going underground to see the LHC tunnel and the detectors. Of these, an estimated 5,000 people visited the ATLAS exhibits aboveground, and another 2,500 had the opportunity to see the ATLAS detector.
ATLAS today presented new searches for Supersymmetry, a theory that could explain the large amount of dark matter in the universe.
At the EPS HEP conference today, ATLAS released a new precise measurement of the top quark mass using events where both top quarks decay via W bosons to electrons or muons. ATLAS also presented limits on the possibility of the top quark decaying to channels not foreseen in the Standard Model. A comparison of the behaviour of top quarks and anti-top quarks produced at the LHC is in agreement with the prediction of the Standard Model, disfavouring models of new physics that require a large top/anti-top asymmetry.
Callum Kerr, 17, visited the ATLAS cavern on 8 July, with this family and a representative from Make-A-Wish Foundation.
In June 1993, ATLAS and CMS were given the provisional go-ahead to submit technical proposals. Twenty years later, for the discovery of the Higgs boson, the European Physical Society has awarded the High Energy and Particle Physics Prize 2013 to the research teams of the ATLAS and CMS experiments. For their “pioneering and outstanding leadership roles in the making” of the experiments, the prize also goes to ATLAS' Peter Jenni and CMS' Michel Della Negra and Tejinder Virdee. We talked to Peter Jenni, who was spokesperson of the ATLAS collaboration for the first 15 years, on ATLAS' past and future.