Every other year, particle physicists gather together to share their latest results at the ICHEP (International Conference on High Energy Physics) conference. This year, more than 700 are attending the conference in Melbourne, Australia, July 4-11.
ATLAS will be sending the results of several dozen new analyses to ICHEP, covering the full scientific programme of the experiment, both precision measurements of Standard Model processes and searches for new physical phenomena - including the Higgs boson. A preview of the Higgs search results will be presented at a special joint video-linked seminar at CERN on the opening day of the conference.
ATLAS physics results to be presented are based upon the full 2011 data set and, in several cases, data from the first part of the 2012 run. The great performance of the LHC this year at 8 TeV collision energy has already allowed ATLAS to more than double the total data collected. The scope of results extends well beyond the Higgs. For instance, there are searches for new forces between particles; ATLAS is sensitive to particles with ranges only one twentieth of the range of the so-called "weak force", which itself has a range of only a tiny fraction of the radius of the proton.
Several searches for new “supersymmetric” particles will be reported; these hypothesized particles may be related to the mysterious dark matter that apparently makes up four fifths of the matter in the universe. Rounding out the searches are many new results on direct searches for signatures of “exotic” particles, for instance particles that could be candidates for the above mentioned dark matter or evidence for the existence of “extra dimensions” - spatial dimensions beyond the familiar three.
In addition, new precision studies of the Standard Model will be presented, including studies that probe either rare processes or the properties of the heavy quarks, bottom and top; these studies could provide indirect hints of new physics. In addition, ATLAS will be combining its measurements of the mass of the top quark - the heaviest elementary particle known - with similar measurements from CMS for an accuracy better than either experiment has reached on its own.
More than physicists are benefiting from the excitement of ICHEP; an unprecedented effort has been made this year to include the public and the media. Starting with a public webcast of the Higgs Seminar on the 4th, activities include an ATLAS exhibit at the Planetarium in Scienceworks, Masterclasses for high school students, teacher development day, a public panel discussion, and a public talk by ATLAS spokesperson Fabiola Gianotti.
Conference attendees will have the chance to take part in an Outreach & Education parallel session on Saturday morning. The session will feature presentations by scientific communication experts, including CERN’s Director General Rolf-Dieter Heuer and Australia’s famous radio personality Dr. Karl Kruszelnicki. An interactive session includes a panel discussion with Social Media experts and a Public Q&A session in the form of a Google Hangout.