The University of Edinburgh has paired up with FutureLearn to host the massive open online course (MOOC) called “The discovery of the Higgs boson“.
This MOOC introduces the theoretic tools needed to appreciate the discovery, and presents the elementary particles at the tiniest scales ever explored. Beginning with basic concepts in classical mechanics, the story unfolds through relativity and quantum mechanics, describing forces, matter and the unification of theories with an understanding driven by the tools of mathematics.
Narrating the journey through experimental results which led to the discovery in 2012, the course invites you to learn from a team of world-class physicists at Edinburgh University. Learners participate in discussion of the consequences of the Higgs boson, to physics and cosmology, and towards a stronger understanding and new description of the universe.
The Nobel Prize in Physics 2013 was awarded jointly to François Englert and Peter W. Higgs “for the theoretical discovery of a mechanism that contributes to our understanding of the origin of mass of subatomic particles, and which recently was confirmed through the discovery of the predicted fundamental particle, by the ATLAS and CMS experiments at CERN’s Large Hadron Collider”
The original key articles written by Englert and Higgs in 1964 can be accessed for free on APS:
Broken Symmetry and the Mass of Gauge Vector Mesons
F. Englert and R. Brout
Phys. Rev. Lett. 13, 321 (1964)
Broken Symmetries and the Masses of Gauge Bosons
Peter W. Higgs
Phys. Rev. Lett. 13, 508 (1964)
Sixty Symbols is a video website that aims to produce videos by experts to talk about the different symbols used in Physics and Astronomy. They originally aimed for 60 symbols but have since already exceeded the original number and are going for 2nd batch of 60 symbols.
For this post, I’ve selected a trilogy of videos on three topics by Sean Carroll, a physicist at Caltech who works on cosmology, quantum mechanics, statistical mechanics and complexity.
1. Quantum Mechanics
2. Higgs Boson
3. Arrow of Time
ATLAS Experiment © 2013 CERN
Ever since the announcement from CERN about the discovery of a Higgs-like particle, the other experimental colliders such as ATLAS and CMS have continued to smash atoms together to collect more and more data, in the hopes of elucidating the exact nature of the beast.
7 months later, physicists have crunched enough data from the collisions to indicate that the new particle discovered is indeed a Higgs boson. However there’s still not enough data on how this new particle interacts with other particles.
To do so will involve measuring exactly how the Higgs particle decomposes into other particles which is hard as the Higgs particle is extremely rare so it’s still a long way from determining if this Higgs particle is indeed the one described by the Standard Model or just a lighter variation of it.
Read CERN’s announcement.
The recent announcement from CERN regarding results from the Large Hadron Collider experiments meant to detect the elusive Higgs boson has excited everyone in the world of Physics, prompting many people and the media to say that the Higgs boson has been finally found, almost 40 years after it was proposed by Peter Higgs.
The evidence of the Higgs boson would be another strong boost to the Standard Model, which essentially predicted the existance of the Higgs. It also helps to explain how all the other particles have mass as they gain it when interacting with the Higgs boson.
But scientists have been urging caution, as the results only indicate that there is an existance of something at the predicted values and much more experimentation will be required to establish the actual properties of the observed particle. The future for particle physics, and the rest of the scientific community will be interesting indeed.
Below are some selected links that provide more information about the discovery and what it means for the future:
Physicists Find Elusive Particle Seen as Key to Universe
The Higgs boson made simple
What Are The Possible Implications Of The Higgs, and What Is The Role Of the Higgs In Generating Mass?
Dr. Higgs, Your Boson Is Here
Unveiling the Higgs mechanism to students (pre-press)