1. 2012

    Particles gone wild: the Higgs mechanism, uncensored

    If you’ve been following the news about the discovery of the Higgs boson, you’ve probably noticed that it gets reported in two ways. There are the actual presentations with the full details of the experiments, which can only be understood by particle physicists their authors well, I’m assuming somebody knows what all of it means. Anyway, then there’s the other way. Sensationalized science journalism. “Hey, look, it’s a God Particle!!!11!” And Other Misrepresentations.

    I think some of us want a middle ground, though. Certainly I would have, not too long ago. So if you’re not actually a physicist, but you’re also not afraid to look at a little math, this post is for you. (This is adapted from a post on Physics Stack Exchange.)

    Spontaneous symmetry breaking

    In order to understand the Higgs mechanism in detail, you need to know about two concepts that are involved in quantum field theory. The first is spontaneous symmetry breaking. This is actually a pretty simple idea: suppose that the physical laws that govern a system are symmetric in some way, meaning that you can make some kind of transformation on the system without changing the …

  2. 2012

    Day 1: Plenary sessions

    DIS 2012 kicked off today with a full day of plenary sessions, general talks that everyone in the conference attends. (Well, not everyone attends, but there’s nothing else going on at any rate.) The slides of all the talks presented today are available on the conference website, but here are some of the interesting results.

    Results from the Tevatron and LHC

    Under the principle of “save the best for last,” I am getting this out of the way first: none of the major experiments have any new results of widespread importance to present. In particular, the Higgs search stands exactly where it was two weeks ago when the Moriond results were presented. This is no surprise because, for one thing, the Higgs boson is an electroweak phenomenon whereas DIS is more about the strong force; also, any major results would be presented at a bigger conference. DIS is a fairly specialized field of study so it doesn’t attract all that many people, in the grand scheme of things.

    Of course, that’s not to say there is nothing to report at all. The Tevatron experiments are finishing up analysis of their data and they have found some interesting …