At the smallest distance scales, the world can be understood in terms of apparently structureless objects, known as elementary particles. The behaviour of these particles is described by a set of theories referred to as the Standard Model of Particle Physics. The Standard Model successfully accounts for a wide variety of experimental observations, but links the origin of mass to a particle termed the ‘Higgs boson’, the existence of which has long remained unconfirmed.
The story behind the discovery of the Higgs Boson, which is thought to explain why fundamental particles have mass, is being told by a team from Brunel University, London, at the Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition this week.
Scientists from Brunel have played a major role in the search for this elusive particle, the existence of which was finally confirmed earlier this year. Over nearly 20 years they have contributed to the design and construction of one of the huge detectors at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN in Switzerland, and have helped to analyse the vast amount of data that led to the discovery of the particle.
Visitors to the Higgs Boson stand at the exhibition will be able to hear about the importance of the Higgs Boson and how it was discovered from Professor Peter Hobson, Dr Jo Cole, Professor Akram Khan and Dr Paul Kyberd. They are all members of Brunel’s School of Engineering and Design, one of the largest in the UK.
Professor Hobson said, “I and my colleagues are very proud to be able to bring to the general public our enthusiasm for physics and world-class engineering, and our desire to explain one of the most significant scientific discoveries in recent years. The discovery of the Higgs Boson is our reward for the years of work that we, and our colleagues and collaborators across the world, have put into this wonderful, historic project.”
Since 1995, scientists from Brunel have contributed to the design, construction, and operation of the Compact Muon Solenoid (CMS), one of the key detectors at CERN, helping to make important new measurements of the fundamental particles and forces in our universe.
The University contributed to the Electromagnetic Calorimeter, part of the CMS that detects high energy electrons and gamma rays from the proton collisions. Specialist facilities at Brunel for large-scale radiation testing of components, plus a dedicated superconducting magnet have played a vital role in developing detectors for the light produced in the lead tungstate crystals that form the Calorimeter.
Particles interacting in the crystals generate a flash of light with an intensity proportional to their energy. This allows researchers to determine precisely the position and energy of electrons and gamma rays.
“The Royal Society Summer Exhibition gives us a great opportunity to tell people about the world class research that is going on right here in London,” said Professor Hobson. “We are really looking forward to telling people what we have done, and what we are doing.”
About the exhibition
The Summer Science Exhibition is an annual display of the most exciting cutting-edge science and technology in the UK.
It’s free entry.
Everyone is welcome – no formal science background or training is needed.
6-9 Carlton House Terrace, London SW1Y 5AG
- Underground stations: Charing Cross and Piccadilly Circus
- Bus routes: 12, 13, 15 and 453.
|Tue 2 July||10am – 9pm|
|Wed 3 July||10am – 5pm|
|Thu 4 July||10am – 5pm|
|Fri 5 July||10am – 9pm|
|Sat 6 July||10am – 9pm|
|Sun 7 July||10am – 6pm|
Note: Last entry is 30 minutes before closing time