Thursday, July 5, 2012

Higgs Art

So CERN found something that looks very much like the Higgs Boson. That's fantastic, i think. I would have preferred something else turn up and in fact, they're still yet to determine exactly what they've found so we could be in luck and find something we didn't expect, but at this point in time it looks like the standard Higgs Boson theorised.

The media has been filled with lots of speech and announcements and these are fine, but some people prefer to have something a little more tangible. So we bring you some reconstructed action shots of the Higgs being detected.

Also, Coming up hot on the heels of the 36th International Conference on High Energy Physics, I’ll be making a post from the, Colliding Ideas Symposium, this Sunday 8th of July. I’m hoping there will be plenty of Art and some very cool ideas. So stay tuned for that one.

LHC ATLAS: Higgs -> 4 Muon

These images are generated from vast amounts of data collected from the signals from the sensors in the LHC. They have been put together after calculating and determining the exact angels at which particles arrived at sensors within the LHC so that their trajectories and thus origin can be traced. For many the origin will be the Collision it's self. However some are the result of other particles which the decay quickly after being ejected from the collision. This is exactly what happens to the Higgs.

The Higgs and other Heavy particles produced by the LHC are produced because the energies within the protons prior to collision is immense. That is the LHC pushes protons around the CERN loop approaching the speed of light, thus building up energy and mass approaching infinity. When these protons come to an abrupt halt by hitting another head on, that energy/mass is expressed, resulting in the production of many other particles. The LHC was built to look for the Higgs, which is extremely heavy. So to produce it, the LHC was built to push these protons faster than we ever had before.

LHC ATLAS: Higgs -> 2 electron 2 Muon
However because the Higgs is so massive, it is not stable in our current environment and so like a puddle of water in the Hot sun, the Higgs evaporates or as the physicists like to say, decay. A Perfect example energy transforming from one form to another, ala energy cannot be created or destroyed.

Making detection even more difficult is that the Higgs has many possible decay patterns, both direct and indirect. In fact, it can decay into almost anything lighter than it's self, however the probability is that it will decay into other particles on the heavier side, but still lighter than its self. The exact decay patterns and probabilities are exemplified nicely by Matt Strassler in his blog Of Partcular Significance.

The Above and below picture represent just some of the decays seen at the LHC.

In the above images Red lines are Muons whilst Green lines are Electrons. The Higgs does not decay directly into these but instead most likely has decayed into a Z boson. The Z, like the Higgs, is not stable and far too big to stick around and thus decays further.

LHC CMS: Higgs -> 2 electron 2 muon
Also, i should note, that two Z bosons are much larger than one Higgs and so, you might ask, how does can the Higgs decay products contain more mass/energy than the Higgs its self? 

One of the Z particles is a virtual Z. If the Higgs was much larger, it could create a Z boson, but because the Higgs mass is only large enough to create one Z particle with some left over energy it leaves distortions in the Z field that look like another Z particle. We know this to be a virtual particle.

Virtual particles are those that pop into existence and out again fleetingly. They happen all the time in normal background radiation of space. However this virtual Z particles picky backed into existence with the help of the energies and disturbances surrounding the proton-proton collision and the decay of the Higgs.

In the below image green lines are Photons. Once the decay of the Higgs and it's resultant particles decay to photons, it is the end of the line. Photons are a stable particle and do not decay any further, however they do contain a lot of energy, which is the left over energy originally pumped into the protons, which resulted in the Higgs and it's subsequent decay. That is, the energy that went into the Magnets was absorbed by the protons, propelling them around the CERN loop, ultimately leading to their demise, the very quick release of energy and its evaporation into the surrounding space.

LHC CMS: Higgs -> 2 photon

These images and more are provided by CERN, along with many videos and other imagry of the event.

But don't think this is the end for the search for the Higgs, if anything, it is the begining of the end. We still need to confirm the properties of the higgs and the exact decay paterns. If things don't look exactly like we're expecting than things could get even more exciting. So stay turned.

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