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Higgs Boson Revealed

  • Posted 07.05.12
  • NOVA

Go behind the scenes at CERN for exclusive interviews with lead scientists on the historic July 4 announcement. Hear from Joe Incandela of CMS, Fabiola Gianotti of ATLAS, and Lyn Evans of the Large Hadron Collider Project on what the exciting and long-awaited announcement means to them.

Launch Video Running Time: 03:53


Higgs Boson Revealed

Posted: July 5, 2012

CERN CONFERENCE HOST: Today we are starting in non-alphabetical order and I ask Joe Incandela from CMS to take the floor.

JOE INCANDELA (Spokesperson, CMS Experiment): It took quite a bit of effort to compress the work of really thousands of people over many years into the small number—I think 175—slides that I show here.

This has been such an intense adventure. This is why we’re all here. This is one of the reasons, I should say, but one of the main reasons. The specifications for the detector were based on what we would need to discover a Standard Model Higgs.

If we combine the ZZ and gamma gamma, this is what we get. They line up extremely well in a reasonable 125 GeV. They combine to give us a combined significance of five standard deviations.

FABIOLA GIANOTTI (Spokesperson, ATLAS Experiment): Although our life will not change the day after the discovery of the Higgs boson, a step forward in fundamental knowledge is always a step forward for mankind and sooner or later it brings to progress.

This is the extremity except one big spike here. So zooming in this region…

The very fundamental question which is also relevant to, you know, to the universe and our world, also our day by day life is, is not really something abstract now.

SEAN CARROLL (Author and Theoretical Physicist, Caltech): So just to be clear, we definitely found a new particle.


SEAN CARROLL: It bears a resemblance to the Higgs boson. Is it the Higgs boson?

JOE INCANDELA: It could be a Higgs boson. It’s just the beginning. When you just reach the point where you can say something’s there, you rarely have enough data to give any details about what its characteristics are. On the other hand, everything we know about it right now is consistent with the Standard Model Higgs.

LYN EVANS (Head, Large Hadron Collider Project): I think that you have built the most incredible scientific instruments, from all the way from the hardware to the data analysis in global collaborations, and I think you should all be very proud. Thank you.

I went into that seminar expecting a good result but to see five sigma up there on both detectors was a total surprise to me. I was gob-smacked as they say. You must understand these machines are not easy. The background is enormous. Getting the signals out is incredibly difficult. And one after the other, ATLAS and CMS showed us what a fantastic job they have done.

PETER HIGGS (Theoretical Physicist): I would like to add my congratulations to everybody involved in this tremendous achievement. For me it’s really an incredible thing that it’s happened in my lifetime.



Higgs Boson Revealed

Produced by
Daniel H. Birman
Edited by
Megan E. Chao
Director of Photography
James W. O'Keeffe
Patrick Duvoisin


Courtesy Dan Birman

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