BUFFALO, N.Y. -- University at Buffalo physicists are among
researchers engaged in one of modern history's most exciting
scientific endeavors: The hunt for the elusive Higgs boson, a
subatomic particle that could help explain why objects have
The particle is the last particle in the Standard Model of
particle physics that scientists have yet to observe conclusively.
If discovered, the Higgs boson would help validate the model, which
describes how particles and forces interact with one another. The
model enables physicists to describe how the world around us
On Wednesday, CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear
Research, announced that research teams working with the Large
Hadron Collider (LHC), the world's strongest particle accelerator,
had observed a particle with properties consistent with the Higgs
boson (See http://public.web.cern.ch/public/.
"After more than 20 years of involvement in this worldwide
collaboration, we are witnessing the first, truly outstanding
physics result related to the Higgs particle," said Avto
Kharchilava, an associate professor of physics at UB and long-time
LHC team member. "I am really proud to be a part of the race -- no
matter that it takes decades."
Kharchilava and department colleague Ia Iashvili are among
scientists who planned and built the Large Hadron Collider's
Compact Muon Solenoid detector (CMS), which researchers are using
in the search for the Higgs. Experiments with the CMS are one of
two general-purpose LHC experiments that are capable of searching
for the Higgs particle, Kharchilava said.
Today, Kharchilava is a member of the Higgs Publication
Committee Board that oversees the final steps and scrutiny that the
CMS collaboration must undertake before results on Higgs particle
searches are made public.
Iashvili, also an associate professor, is one of two scientists
in charge of jet energy scale calibration, a process that is
critical to the CMS project's ability to identify the Higgs boson,
should it appear. Salvatore Rappoccio, an assistant professor who
will be joining UB from Johns Hopkins University this August, is
also a part of the calibration team.
Rappoccio explained the nature of the work: "The production and
decay of the Higgs boson often involves particles called 'quarks,'
which ordinarily make up protons and neutrons in everyday matter.
However, since these quarks cannot exist alone, they are not
detected directly. Instead, they create sprays of stable particles
called jets, which are observed in the CMS detector. We are working
with a large team of scientists at the CMS experiment in measuring
these jets to estimate the energy of the quarks involved in the
Besides Rappoccio, Iashvili and Kharchilava, UB physicists have
been involved in many aspects of the Large Hadron Collider
experiments, from running the CMS detector to predicting how
particles should look when they appear.
Theoretical physicists at UB who have contributed to LHC
projects include Associate Professor Doreen Wackeroth, Assistant
Professor Dejan Stojkovic and Professor Richard Gonsalves.
"The search for the Higgs boson at the LHC is one of the most
impressive scientific endeavors of our time," said Wackeroth, who
has been working on Higgs physics since 1992. "The existence of a
Higgs boson was proposed by a number of theorists in 1964. Since
then, physicists have been searching for this particle at
high-energy accelerator experiments, but until now, it has always
Like her colleagues, Wackeroth expressed excitement about CERN's
Wednesday announcement: "They have discovered a new boson!" she
said. "It is consistent with a Higgs boson. We do not know yet if
it is the one predicted by the Standard Model -- this will be
decided with more data. This is just the beginning of an exciting
new era in particle physics. Everyone feels that this is an
Besides faculty members, a number of UB students and
postdoctoral researchers are working on LHC projects.
UB Physicists Celebrate LHC Startup, Decade After Its Inception:
CERN Announcement of Particle Consistent With Higgs Boson: http://press.web.cern.ch/press/PressReleases/Releases2012/PR17.12E.html