A new era in Particle Physics

By . Published on 25 October 2013 in:
News, October 2013, , , ,

These are exciting times. In July 2013, one year after the discovery of a Higgs boson with the ATLAS and CMS experiments at CERN, about 750 particle physicists met at the international EPS Conference on High Energy Physics in Stockholm. This meeting was organised jointly by the EPS High Energy and Particle Physics Division [EPS-HEPP] and a local organising committee. The anniversary of the Higgs discovery was celebrated with the award of the EPS-HEPP Prize to the ATLAS and CMS collaborations and to M. Della Negra, P. Jenni, and T. Virdee for their leadership roles in these experiments.

However, as the conference showed, the discovery of the new boson is already history. Many of the properties of the new particle have already been measured to astonishing precision. Presently, all measurements are compatible with the expectations for the Higgs boson of the Standard Model. Despite this, much room is still left for the existence of a richer Higgs sector, consisting of several Higgs particles, as one would for example expect if supersymmetry is realised in nature.

It was not only the LHC experiments and other experiments at the energy and intensity frontiers that presented highlight results. From other fields like neutrino physics, astroparticle physics and cosmology, key results from studies of physics outside the Standard Model, such as neutrino oscillations, dark matter and dark energy, were shown. A more complete theory of particle physics is likely to emerge only from a combination of the insights coming from these very diverse research areas.

Of course, the new era of particle physics that started with the discovery of a Higgs boson calls for long-term strategic plans. At the European level, the EPS-HEPP Board collaborates with the European Committee for Future Accelerators [ECFA], in coordinating views on research facilities, and also follows developments worldwide. Particle physics after the 2013 update of the European Strategy for Particle Physics was discussed at the joint EPS/ECFA meeting at the conference in Stockholm. Besides the LHC upgrade programme, these discussions covered the developments towards an international linear electron-positron collider in Japan and the feasibility of a future ring accelerator of 80-100 km circumference at CERN.

As the Higgs boson discovery shows, progress in particle physics relies on many decades of sustained efforts by scientists worldwide, along with the support of the corresponding funding agencies. The discovery of the new boson, which promises to lead to a fundamentally new understanding of nature, from the realm of the smallest known particles to the gigantic scales of the universe, is a clear demonstration of the benefits that human society stands to reap through international collaboration, a strategic scientific vision and long-term support of big science.

Read more on the board on the EPS-HEPP website.

Note of the Editor: By the time this e-EPS edition was issued, the Nobel Prize in Physics 2013 was awarded to F. Englert and P. Higgs, as reported in another entry. The EPS-HEPP Prize had already been awarded in 1997 to R. Brout, F. Englert and P. Higgs.

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