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Higgs particle to be celebrated at Castle

2012-09-14

Physicists all around the world are overjoyed at the discovery of the so-called “Higgs particle” at the CERN lab in Switzerland. On 27 September the discovery will be celebrated in the Hall of State at Uppsala Castle, with public lectures by the prominent CERN physicist Fabiola Gianotti and Nobel laureate Frank Wilczek.

Time: 27 September 3.30-5.00 p.m.
Place: Uppsala Castle, Hall of State

The venue is well chosen. It was at Uppsala Castle that a wager was made between physics professor Janet Conrad and Nobel laureate Frank Wilczek at a conference banquet in 2005. Would the Higgs particle be found? Frank Wilczek won the bet, and Janet Conrad will be attending the celebrations at the Castle to congratulate him on this.

One of the organizers is Tord Ekelöf, professor of elementary particle physics at Uppsala University and director of Uppsala’s research team at CERN, who has devoted the last 20 years to research on Higgs particles, among other pursuits. The research involves testing the so-called Standard Model, which explains the smallest particles of matter and their interaction.

“It’s the best-tested theory in physics for the basic structure and forces of matter. When you explain how the universe emerged from the ‘big bang’, you have to bring in this theory. It also explains the smallest particles and fundamental forces at work in the atom and its nucleus, ” explains Tord Ekelöf.

“The theory is both extremely precise and general, but in order to confirm it the existence of the Higgs particle must be shown experimentally. The properties of the newly discovered particle that we have thus far been able to measure accord well with the predictions for the Higgs particle. Now we want to measure more properties with greater precision in order to check in detail whether there are any deviations. It would be especially gratifying to discover a deviation from the Standard Model, because that would mean that we have truly learned something entirely new and unexpected about the basic structure of matter and the universe!”

Charged Higgs Bosons

The only accelerator in the world where experiments of this type can be performed is found at CERN, where Uppsala University has been pursuing research for some 50 years. Tord Ekelöf’s research team is a leader in a research programme about charged Higgs particles, which differ from the neutral Higgs particle in that they are electrically charged and their existence is predicted by theories that are more general than the Standard Model, for instance.

Every other year the group arranges a world-leading conference on Higgs Bosons, and the next one will be on 8–10 October at the Gustavianum. The team has moreover contributed to the work that led to the summer’s major discovery and is currently participating in the measurement of properties in the recently discovered neutral Higgs particle.

The event at the Castle is intended for the general public, and despite the arcane nature of the subject Tord Ekelöf has notice a growing interest in particle physics.

“People understand that the discovery represents a huge leap forward within the subject. We physicists have celebrated. We don’t do so very often, but this has reached everyone. There are also many members of the general public – amateur physicists and physics teachers, for example – who have realized that there has indeed been a breakthrough in particle physics.”

Read more about the wager: www.tiny.cc/higgsbet