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Who Cares about Particle Physics?Making Sense of the Higgs Boson, the Large Hadron Collider and CERN$
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Pauline Gagnon

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780198783244

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198783244.001.0001

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The Discovery of the Higgs Boson

The Discovery of the Higgs Boson

(p.67) 4 The Discovery of the Higgs Boson
Who Cares about Particle Physics?

Pauline Gagnon

Oxford University Press

Finding a Higgs boson is like making maple syrup, where one must boil a huge volume of sap from maple trees to extract a few drops of syrup. The sugar represents the signal, and water the background. Likewise, physicists must sort billions of events, collected with the ATLAS and CMS detectors at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN, to extract the signal, namely events bearing the characteristics of the Higgs boson, from the background. Each event corresponds to a snapshot taken by one of these detectors when protons traveling at nearly the speed of light collide. The energy released materializes to produce new particles such as Higgs bosons. Particle physicists use advanced statistical methods and computer-generated simulations to disentangle events containing a Higgs boson from all other types of events. This data analysis work is like extracting a needle from millions of bales of hay.

Keywords:   Higgs boson, simulation, background, signal, data analysis, statistical methods, ATLAS, CMS, CERN

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