FIU scientists help find ‘God Particle’

Physicists on experiments at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) announced July 4 that they have observed a new particle. The preliminary results were announced  at a seminar at the home of the LHC, the CERN particle physics laboratory on the border of Switzerland and France. However, experimental physicists will need to collect more data and run further analysis to determine if this new particle has the properties of the predicted Higgs boson, also referred to as the “God particle”.

“The best way to explain this discovery is to say that we have found an object. We now need to determine what it looks like and how it behaves,” said professor Jorge L. Rodriguez from the Department of Physics.

FIU scientists and graduate students played important roles in the search for the Higgs at the LHC as part of the more than 1,700 people from U.S. institutions – including 89 American universities and seven U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) national laboratories.

Three of FIU’s physics professors – Jorge L. Rodriguez, Pete E.C. Markowitz and Stephan Linn – and their students helped design, build and operate the LHC accelerator with the Compact Muons Solenoid (CMS) experiment. CMS is a general-purpose detector designed to run at the highest luminosity at the LHC, which will collide beams of high-energy protons into each other. A grant awarded to FIU’s Center for High Energy Physics Research and Education Outreach from the National Science Foundation supports this CMS collaboration.

Event display of a candidate Higgs boson decaying to two photons (photons are particles of light) as seen by the CMS detector.

“This is a huge accomplishment, and fills a big hole in our understanding of the way the universe works,” said professor Markowitz. “We still have a lot of things we do not understand – dark matter, why the masses are what they are, dark energy, or even why the universe is not made of equal amounts of matter and anti-matter  – but we are hugely closer to understanding our environment.”