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  • richardmitnick 9:00 pm on July 3, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Fabiola Gianotti, , , Joe Incandela, , What comes next?   

    From Symmetry: “When was the Higgs actually discovered?” 

    Symmetry Mag

    Symmetry

    07/03/17
    Sarah Charley

    The announcement on July 4 was just one part of the story. Take a peek behind the scenes of the discovery of the Higgs boson.

    1
    Maximilien Brice, Laurent Egli, CERN

    Joe Incandela UCSB and Cern CMS

    Joe Incandela sat in a conference room at CERN and watched with his arms folded as his colleagues presented the latest results on the hunt for the Higgs boson. It was December 2011, and they had begun to see the very thing they were looking for—an unexplained bump emerging from the data.

    “I was far from convinced,” says Incandela, a professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara and the former spokesperson of the CMS experiment at the Large Hadron Collider.

    CERN CMS Higgs Event

    CERN/CMS Detector

    LHC

    CERN/LHC Map

    CERN LHC Tunnel

    CERN LHC particles

    For decades, scientists had searched for the elusive Higgs boson: the holy grail of modern physics and the only piece of the robust and time-tested Standard Model that had yet to be found.

    The Standard Model of elementary particles (more schematic depiction), with the three generations of matter, gauge bosons in the fourth column, and the Higgs boson in the fifth.

    The construction of the LHC was motivated in large part by the absence of this fundamental component from our picture of the universe. Without it, physicists couldn’t explain the origin of mass or the divergent strengths of the fundamental forces.

    “Without the Higgs boson, the Standard Model falls apart,” says Matthew McCullough, a theorist at CERN. “The Standard Model was fitting the experimental data so well that most of the theory community was convinced that something playing the role of Higgs boson would be discovered by the LHC.”

    The Standard Model predicted the existence of the Higgs but did not predict what the particle’s mass would be. Over the years, scientists had searched for it across a wide range of possible masses. By 2011, there was only a tiny region left to search; everything else had been excluded by previous generations of experimentation.

    FNAL in the Tevatron research had ruled out many of the possible levels of energy that could have been the home of Higgs.

    FNAL Tevatron

    FNAL/Tevatron map


    FNAL/Tevatron DZero detector


    FNAL/Tevatron CDF detector

    If the predicted Higgs boson were anywhere, it had to be there, right where the LHC scientists were looking.

    But Incandela says he was skeptical about these preliminary results. He knew that the Higgs could manifest itself in many different forms, and this particular channel was extremely delicate.

    “A tiny mistake or an unfortunate distribution of the background events could make it look like a new particle is emerging from the data when in reality, it’s nothing,” Incandela says.

    A common mantra in science is that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. The challenge isn’t just collecting the data and performing the analysis; it’s deciding if every part of the analysis is trustworthy. If the analysis is bulletproof, the next question is whether the evidence is substantial enough to claim a discovery. And if a discovery can be claimed, the final question is what, exactly, has been discovered? Scientists can have complete confidence in their results but remain uncertain about how to interpret them.

    In physics, it’s easy to say what something is not but nearly impossible to say what it is. A single piece of corroborated, contradictory evidence can discredit an entire theory and destroy an organization’s credibility.

    “We’ll never be able to definitively say if something is exactly what we think it is, because there’s always something we don’t know and cannot test or measure,” Incandela says. “There could always be a very subtle new property or characteristic found in a high-precision experiment that revolutionizes our understanding.”

    With all of that in mind, Incandela and his team made a decision: From that point on, everyone would refine their scientific analyses using special data samples and a patch of fake data generated by computer simulations covering the interesting areas of their analyses. Then, when they were sure about their methodology and had enough data to make a significant observation, they would remove the patch and use their algorithms on all the real data in a process called unblinding.

    “This is a nice way of providing an unbiased view of the data and helps us build confidence in any unexpected signals that may be appearing, particularly if the same unexpected signal is seen in different types of analyses,” Incandela says.

    A few weeks before July 4, all the different analysis groups met with Incandela to present a first look at their unblinded results. This time the bump was very significant and showing up at the same mass in two independent channels.

    “At that point, I knew we had something,” Incandela says. “That afternoon we presented the results to the rest of the collaboration. The next few weeks were among the most intense I have ever experienced.”

    Meanwhile, the other general-purpose experiment at the LHC, ATLAS, was hot on the trail of the same mysterious bump.

    CERN/ATLAS detector

    CERN ATLAS Higgs Event

    Andrew Hard was a graduate student at The University of Wisconsin, Madison working on the ATLAS Higgs analysis with his PhD thesis advisor Sau Lan Wu.

    “Originally, my plan had been to return home to Tennessee and visit my parents over the winter holidays,” Hard says. “Instead, I came to CERN every day for five months—even on Christmas. There were a few days when I didn’t see anyone else at CERN. One time I thought some colleagues had come into the office, but it turned out to be two stray cats fighting in the corridor.”

    Hard was responsible for writing the code that selected and calibrated the particles of light the ATLAS detector recorded during the LHC’s high-energy collisions. According to predictions from the Standard Model, the Higgs can transform into two of these particles when it decays, so scientists on both experiments knew that this project would be key to the discovery process.

    “We all worked harder than we thought we could,” Hard says. “People collaborated well and everyone was excited about what would come next. All in all, it was the most exciting time in my career. I think the best qualities of the community came out during the discovery.”

    At the end of June, Hard and his colleagues synthesized all of their work into a single analysis to see what it revealed. And there it was again—that same bump, this time surpassing the statistical threshold the particle physics community generally requires to claim a discovery.

    “Soon everyone in the group started running into the office to see the number for the first time,” Hard says. “The Wisconsin group took a bunch of photos with the discovery plot.”

    Hard had no idea whether CMS scientists were looking at the same thing. At this point, the experiments were keeping their latest results secret—with the exception of Incandela, Fabiola Gianotti (then ATLAS spokesperson) and a handful of CERN’s senior management, who regularly met to discuss their progress and results.

    Fabiola Gianotti, then the ATLAS spokesperson, now the General Director of CERN

    “I told the collaboration that the most important thing was for each experiment to work independently and not worry about what the other experiment was seeing,” Incandela says. “I did not tell anyone what I knew about ATLAS. It was not relevant to the tasks at hand.”

    Still, rumors were circulating around theoretical physics groups both at CERN and abroad. Mccullough, then a postdoc at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, was avidly following the progress of the two experiments.

    “We had an update in December 2011 and then another one a few months later in March, so we knew that both experiments were seeing something,” he says. “When this big excess showed up in July 2012, we were all convinced that it was the guy responsible for curing the ails of the Standard Model, but not necessarily precisely that guy predicted by the Standard Model. It could have properties mostly consistent with the Higgs boson but still be not absolutely identical.”

    The week before announcing what they’d found, Hard’s analysis group had daily meetings to discuss their results. He says they were excited but also nervous and stressed: Extraordinary claims require extraordinary confidence.

    “One of our meetings lasted over 10 hours, not including the dinner break halfway through,” Hard says. “I remember getting in a heated exchange with a colleague who accused me of having a bug in my code.”

    After both groups had independently and intensely scrutinized their Higgs-like bump through a series of checks, cross-checks and internal reviews, Incandela and Gianotti decided it was time to tell the world.

    “Some people asked me if I was sure we should say something,” Incandela says. “I remember saying that this train has left the station. This is what we’ve been working for, and we need to stand behind our results.”

    On July 4, 2012, Incandela and Gianotti stood before an expectant crowd and, one at a time, announced that decades of searching and generations of experiments had finally culminated in the discovery of a particle “compatible with the Higgs boson.”

    Science journalists rejoiced and rushed to publish their stories. But was this new particle the long-awaited Higgs boson? Or not?

    Discoveries in science rarely happen all at once; rather, they build slowly over time. And even when the evidence overwhelmingly points in a clear direction, scientists will rarely speak with superlatives or make definitive claims.

    “There is always a risk of overlooking the details,” Incandela says, “and major revolutions in science are often born in the details.”

    Immediately after the July 4 announcement, theorists from around the world issued a flurry of theoretical papers presenting alternative explanations and possible tests to see if this excess really was the Higgs boson predicted by the Standard Model or just something similar.

    “A lot of theory papers explored exotic ideas,” McCullough says. “It’s all part of the exercise. These papers act as a straw man so that we can see just how well we understand the particle and what additional tests need to be run.”

    For the next several months, scientists continued to examine the particle and its properties. The more data they collected and the more tests they ran, the more the discovery looked like the long-awaited Higgs boson. By March, both experiments had twice as much data and twice as much evidence.

    “Amongst ourselves, we called it the Higgs,” Incandela says, “but to the public, we were more careful.”

    It was increasingly difficult to keep qualifying their statements about it, though. “It was just getting too complicated,” Incandela says. “We didn’t want to always be in this position where we had to talk about this particle like we didn’t know what it was.”

    On March 14, 2013—nine months and 10 days after the original announcement—CERN issued a press release quoting Incandela as saying, “to me, it is clear that we are dealing with a Higgs boson, though we still have a long way to go to know what kind of Higgs boson it is.”​

    To this day, scientists are open to the possibility that the Higgs they found is not exactly the Higgs they expected.

    “We are definitely, 100 percent sure that this is a Standard-Model-like Higgs boson,” Incandela says. “But we’re hoping that there’s a chink in that armor somewhere. The Higgs is a sign post, and we’re hoping for a slight discrepancy which will point us in the direction of new physics.”

    See the full article here .

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    Symmetry is a joint Fermilab/SLAC publication.


     
  • richardmitnick 10:14 am on July 26, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Fabiola Gianotti, , , , ,   

    From Physics Today: “High-energy lab has high-energy director” 

    Physics Today bloc

    Physics Today

    21 July 2016
    Toni Feder

    CERN director general Fabiola Gianotti looks at what lies ahead for particle physics.

    1
    Fabiola Gianotti in December 2015, just before she became CERN’s director general. Credit: CERN

    Fabiola Gianotti shot to prominence on 4 July 2012, with the announcement of the discovery of the Higgs boson. At the time, she was the spokesperson of ATLAS, which along with the Compact Muon Solenoid (CMS) experiment spotted the Higgs at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN.

    CERN ATLAS Higgs Event
    CERN/ATLAS detector
    CERN ATLAS Higgs Event; CERN/ATLAS detector

    CERN CMS Higgs Event
    CERN/CMS Detector
    CERN CMS Higgs Event; CERN/CMS Detector

    In the excitement over the Higgs discovery, Gianotti was on the cover of Time. She was hailed as among the most influential and the most inspirational women of our time. She was listed among the “leading global thinkers of 2013” by Foreign Policy magazine.

    “I am not very comfortable in the limelight,” says Gianotti. “Particle physics is a truly collaborative field. The discovery of the Higgs boson is the result of the work of thousands of physicists over more than 20 years.”

    Gianotti first went to CERN in 1987 as a graduate student at the University of Milan. She has been there ever since. And she seems comfortable at the helm, a job she has held since the beginning of this year.

    “The main challenge is to cope with so many different aspects, and switching my brain instantly from one problem to another one,” she says. “There are many challenges—human challenges, scientific challenges, technological challenges, budget challenges. But the challenges are interesting and engaging.”

    As of this summer, the LHC is in the middle of its second run, known as Run 2. In June the collider reached a record luminosity of 1034 cm−2s−1. It produces proton–proton collisions of energy of 13 TeV. A further push to the design energy of 14 TeV may be made later in Run 2 or in Run 3, which is planned for 2021–23. An upgrade following the third run will increase the LHC’s luminosity by an order of magnitude.

    Physics Today’s Toni Feder caught up with Gianotti in June, about six months into her five-year appointment in CERN’s top job.

    PT: Last fall the ATLAS and CMS experiments both reported hints of a signal at 750 GeV. What would the implications be of finding a particle at that energy?

    GIANOTTI: At the moment, we don’t know if what the experiments observed last year is the first hint of a signal or just a fluctuation. But if the bump turns into a signal, then the implications are extraordinary. Its presumed features would not be something we can classify within the best-known scenarios for physics beyond the standard model. So it would be something unexpected, and for researchers there is nothing more exciting than a surprise.

    The experiments are analyzing the data from this year’s run and will release results in the coming weeks. We can expect them on the time scale of ICHEP in Chicago at the beginning of August. [ICHEP is the International Conference on High Energy Physics.]

    PT: The LHC is up to nearly the originally planned collision energy. The next step is to increase the luminosity. How will that be done?

    GIANOTTI: To increase the luminosity, we will have to replace components of the accelerator—for example, the magnets sitting on each side of the ATLAS and CMS collision regions. These are quadrupoles that squeeze the beams and therefore increase the interaction probability. We will replace them with higher-field, larger-aperture magnets. There are also other things we have to do to upgrade the accelerator. The present schedule for the installation of the hardware components is at the end of Run 3—that is, during the 2024–26 shutdown. The operation of the high-luminosity LHC will start after this installation, so on the time scale of 2027.

    The high-luminosity LHC will allow the experiments to collect 10 times as much data. Improving the precision will be extremely important, in particular for the interaction strength—so-called couplings—of the Higgs boson with other particles. New physics can alter these couplings from the standard-model expectation. Hence the Higgs boson is a door to new physics.

    The high-luminosity LHC will also increase the discovery potential for new physics: Experiments will be able to detect particles with masses 20% to 30% larger than before the upgrade.

    And third, if new physics is discovered at the LHC in Run 2 or Run 3, the high-luminosity LHC will allow the first precise measurements of the new physics to be performed with a very well-known accelerator and very well-known experiments. So it would provide powerful constraints on the underlying theory.

    PT: What are some of the activities at CERN aside from the LHC?

    GIANOTTI: I have spent my scientific career working on high-energy colliders, which are very close to my heart. However, the open questions today in particle physics are difficult and crucial, and there is no single way to attack them. We can’t say today that a high-energy collider is the way to go and let’s forget about other approaches. Or underground experiments are the way to go. Or neutrino experiments are the way to go. There is no exclusive way. I think we have to be very inclusive, and we have to address the outstanding questions with all the approaches that our discipline has developed over the decades.

    In this vein, at CERN we have a scientific diversity program. It includes the study of antimatter through a dedicated facility, the Antiproton Decelerator; precise measurements of rare decays; and many other projects. We also participate in accelerator-based neutrino programs, mainly in the US. And we are doing R&D and design studies for the future high-energy colliders: an electron–positron collider in the multi-TeV region [the Compact Linear Collider] and future circular colliders.

    PT: Japan is the most likely host for a future International Linear Collider, an electron–positron collider (see Physics Today, March 2013, page 23). What’s your sense about whether the ILC will go ahead and whether it’s the best next step for high-energy physics?

    GIANOTTI: Japan is consulting with international partners to see if a global collaboration can be built. It’s a difficult decision to be taken, and it has to be taken by the worldwide community.

    Europe will produce a new road map, the European Strategy for Particle Physics, on the time scale of 2019–20. That will be a good opportunity to think about the future of the discipline, based also on the results from the LHC Run 2 and other facilities in the world.

    PT: How is CERN affected by tight financial situations in member countries?

    GIANOTTI: CERN has been running for many years with a constant budget, with constant revenues from member states, at a level of CHF 1.2 billion [$1.2 billion] per year. We strive to squeeze the operation of the most powerful accelerator in the world, its upgrade, and other interesting projects within this budget.

    PT: Will Brexit affect CERN?

    GIANOTTI: We are not directly affected because CERN membership is not related to being members of the European Union.

    PT: You have said you have four areas that you want to maintain and expand at CERN: science, technology and innovation, education, and peaceful collaboration. Please elaborate.

    GIANOTTI: Science first. We do research in fundamental physics, with the aim of understanding the elementary particles and their interactions, which also gives us very important indications about the structure and evolution of the universe.

    In order to accomplish these scientific goals, we have to develop cutting-edge technologies in many domains, from superconducting magnets to vacuum technology, cryogenics, electronics, computing, et cetera.

    These technologies are transferred to society and find applications in many other sectors—for example, in the medical fields with imaging and cancer therapy, but also solar panels, not to mention the World Wide Web. Fundamental research requires very sophisticated instruments and is a driver of innovation.

    Another component of our mission is education and training. The CERN population is very young: The age distribution of the 12 000 citizens from all over the world working on our experiments peaks at 27 years, and almost 50% are below 35. About half of our PhD students remain in academia or research, and about half go to industry. It is our duty to prepare them to be tomorrow’s scientists or tomorrow’s employees of industry—and in any case, good citizens.

    How do we prepare them to be good citizens? CERN was created in the early 1950s to promote fundamental research and to foster peaceful collaboration among European countries after the war. Today we have scientists of more than 110 nationalities, some from countries that are in conflict with each other, some from countries that do not even recognize each other’s right to exist. And yet they work together in a peaceful way, animated by the same passion for knowledge.

    PT: You are the first woman to head CERN. What do you see as the significance of this?

    GIANOTTI: The CERN director general should be appointed on the basis of his or her capabilities to run the laboratory and not on the basis of gender arguments. This being said, I hope that my being a woman can be useful as an encouragement to girls and young women who would like to do fundamental research but might hesitate. It shows them they have similar opportunities as their male colleagues.

    See the full article here .

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    “Our mission

    The mission of Physics Today is to be a unifying influence for the diverse areas of physics and the physics-related sciences.

    It does that in three ways:

    • by providing authoritative, engaging coverage of physical science research and its applications without regard to disciplinary boundaries;
    • by providing authoritative, engaging coverage of the often complex interactions of the physical sciences with each other and with other spheres of human endeavor; and
    • by providing a forum for the exchange of ideas within the scientific community.”

     
  • richardmitnick 3:34 pm on May 22, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Fabiola Gianotti, , ,   

    From HuffPost: “Meet The Most Powerful Woman In Particle Physics” Women in Science 

    Huffington Post
    The Huffington Post

    05/18/2016
    David Freeman

    1
    Fabiola Gianotti, CERN’s new director-general. Christian Beutler

    Fabiola Gianotti isn’t new to CERN, the Geneva, Switzerland-based research organization that operates the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), the world’s biggest particle collider.

    CERN/LHC Map
    CERN LHC Grand Tunnel
    CERN LHC particles
    LHC at CERN

    In fact, the Italian particle physicist was among the CERN scientists who made history in 2012 with the discovery of the Higgs boson.

    CERN CMS Higgs Event
    CERN CMS Higgs Event

    CERN/CMS Detector
    CERN/CMS Detector

    But now Gianotti isn’t just working at CERN. As the organization’s new director-general — the first woman ever to hold the position — she’s running the show. And though expanding our knowledge of the subatomic realm remains her main focus, she’s acutely aware that she is now a high-visibility role model for women around the world.

    “Physics is widely regarding as a male-dominated field, and it’s true that there are more men in our community than women,” Gianotti told The Huffington Post in an email. “So I am glad if in my new role I can contribute to encourage young women to undertake a job in scientific research with the certitude that they have the same opportunities as men.”

    Recently, HuffPost Science posed a few questions to Gianotti via email. Here, lightly edited, are her answers.

    How will things be different for you in your new role?

    My new role is very interesting and stimulating, and I feel very honored to have been offered it. The range of issues I have to deal with is much broader than before and includes scientific strategy and planning, budget, personnel aspects, relations with a large variety of stakeholders, etc. Days are long and full, and I am learning many new things. And there is nothing more enriching and gratifying than learning.

    What’s a typical day like for you?

    Super-hectic, super-speedy and … atypical!

    What do you think explains the gender gap in science generally and in physics particularly?

    There are many factors. There’s no difference in ability between men and women, that’s for sure. And in my experience, the more diverse a team is, the stronger it is. There is the baggage of history, of course, which takes a long time to overcome. There is the question of the lack of role models, and there is the question of making workplaces more family friendly. We need to enable parents, men or women, to take breaks to raise families and we need to support parents with infrastructure and facilities.

    2
    The Large Hadron Collider, Geneva, Switzerland.

    Your term as CERN’s director-general is scheduled to last five years. What are your goals for CERN during this period?

    The second run of the LHC is the top priority for CERN in the coming years. We got off to a very good start in 2015, and have three years of data-taking ahead of us before we go into the accelerator’s second long shutdown. The experiments are expected to record at least three times more data than in Run 1 at an energy almost twice as large. It will be a long time before another such step in energy will be made in the future.

    So, the coming years are going to be an exciting period for high-energy physics. But CERN is not just the LHC. We have a variety of experiments and facilities, including precise measurements of rare decays and detailed studies of antimatter, to mention just a couple of them. In parallel with the ongoing program, we will be working to ensure a healthy long-term future for CERN, at first with the high-luminosity LHC upgrade scheduled to come on stream in the middle of the next decade, and also through a range of design studies looking at the post-LHC era — from 2035 onwards.

    CERN HL-LHC bloc

    What discoveries can we reasonably expect from CERN during your term?

    I’m afraid that I don’t have a crystal ball to hand. There will be a wealth of excellent physics results from the LHC Run 2 and from other CERN experiments. We’ll certainly get to know the Higgs boson much better and expand our exploration of physics beyond the Standard Model.

    The Standard Model of elementary particles (more schematic depiction), with the three generations of matter, gauge bosons in the fourth column, and the Higgs boson in the fifth.
    The Standard Model of elementary particles (more schematic depiction), with the three generations of matter, gauge bosons in the fourth column, and the Higgs boson in the fifth.

    Whether we find any hints of the new physics everyone is so eagerly waiting for, however, I don’t know. We know there’s new physics to be found. Good as it is, the Standard Model explains only the 5 percent of the universe that is visible. There are so many exciting questions still waiting to be answered.

    What are the biggest opportunities at CERN? The biggest challenges?

    These two questions have a single answer. Over the coming years, the greatest opportunities and challenges, not only for CERN but for the global particle physics community as a whole, come from the changing nature of the field. Collaboration between regions is growing. CERN recently signed a set of agreements with the U.S. outlining U.S. participation in the upgrade of the LHC and CERN participation in neutrino projects at Fermilab in the U.S.

    FNAL LBNF/DUNE
    FNAL LBNF/DUNE

    There are also emerging players in the field, notably China, whose scientific community has expressed ambitious goals for a potential future facility. All this represents a great opportunity for particle physics. The challenge for all of us in the field is to advance in a globally coordinated manner, so as to be able to carry out as many exciting and complementary projects as possible.

    Were you always interested in being a scientist? If you couldn’t be a scientist, what would you be/do?

    I was always interested in science, and I was always interested in music. I pursued both for as long as I could, but when the time came to make a choice, I chose science. I suppose that as a professional physicist, it is still possible to enjoy music — I still play the piano from time to time. But as a professional musician, it would be harder to engage in science.

    What do you do in your spare time?

    I spend my little spare time with family and friends. I do some sport, I listen to music, I read.

    What do you think is the biggest misconception nonscientists have about particle physics?

    That it’s hard to understand! Of course, if you want to be a particle physicist, you have to master the language of mathematics and be trained to quite a high level. But if you want to understand the field conceptually, it’s almost child’s play. All children are natural scientists. They are curious, and they want to take things apart to see how they work.

    Particle physics is just like that. We study the fundamental building blocks of matter from which everything is made, and the forces at work between them. And the equations that describe the building blocks and their interactions are simple and elegant. They can be written on a small piece of paper.

    See the full article here .

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  • richardmitnick 5:11 pm on December 22, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Fabiola Gianotti, , ,   

    From Nature: “CERN’s next director-general on the LHC and her hopes for international particle physics” 

    Nature Mag
    Nature

    22 December 2015
    Elizabeth Gibney

    Fabiola Gianotti talks to Nature ahead of taking the helm at Europe’s particle-physics laboratory on 1 January.

    1
    Fabiola Gianotti is the incoming director-general of CERN. Maximilien Brice/CERN

    Fabiola Gianotti, the Italian physicist who announced the discovery of the Higgs boson in 2012, will from 1 January take charge at CERN, the laboratory near Geneva, Switzerland, where the particle was found.

    Gianotti spoke to Nature ahead of taking up the post, to discuss hints of new physics at the upgraded Large Hadron Collider (LHC), China’s planned accelerators and CERN’s worldwide ambitions — as well as how to deal with egos.

    CERN LHC Map
    CERN LHC Grand Tunnel
    CERN LHC particles
    LHC at CERN

    How excited should we be about the latest LHC results, which already hint at signals that could turn out to be due to new physics phenomena?

    At the moment, experiments are seeing some fluctuations and hints, which, if they are due to signals from new physics, will next year consolidate with the huge amount of data the LHC will deliver. On the other hand, if they are just fluctuations, they will disappear. We have to be patient. In addition to looking for new physics, we are going to study the Higgs boson with very high precision.

    Will any of the hints that we’ve already seen be directing the physicists’ searches?

    I don’t think that the direction of exploration is being guided by the hints people see here and there. The correct approach is to be totally open and not be driven by our prejudices, because we don’t know where new physics is, or how it will look.

    Following the LHC’s energy upgrade, data collection in the 2015 run has been slower than hoped. How would you characterize it so far?

    Run 2 has been extremely successful. We have recorded about 4 inverse femtobarns of data [roughly equivalent to 400 trillion proton–proton collisions]. The initial goal was between 8 and 10 femtobarns, so it’s less. However, a huge number of challenges have been addressed and solved. So for me, this is more important than accumulating collisions. We could have accumulated more, but only by not addressing the challenges that will allow us to make a big jump in terms of intensity of the beams next year.

    In 2015, one LHC paper had more than 5,000 authors. There must be some people on such experiments who want more credit for their efforts.
    How do you deal with the clash of egos?

    I think the collaborations accept very well this idea that everybody signs the paper, and I am also a strong supporter of that. The reason is simple: you can be the guy who has a good idea to do a very cute analysis, so get very nice results. But you would not have been able to do the analysis if many other people had not built the detectors that gave you the data. None of these experiments is a one-man show, they are the work of thousands of people who have all contributed in their domain and all equally deserve to sign the paper.

    I hope that universities, advancement committees and boards that hire people understand that just because there are many authors, that does not mean the individual did not make an important contribution.

    CERN is currently at the heart of international particle physics, but China is designing a future collider that could succeed the LHC after 2035. Do you think that China could become the world’s centre for particle physics in the 2040s?

    At the moment there are many conceptual design studies for future big accelerators around the world. Of course conceptual studies are important, but there is a big step between studies and future reality. I think it is very good that all regions in the world show an interest and commitment to thinking about the future of particle physics. It’s a very good sign of a healthy discipline.

    Is there a chance that China might become a CERN member?

    Before becoming a full member, you become an associate member, and associate membership is something that can be conceived [for China]. So we will see in the coming years if this can become a reality. It’s an interesting option to explore.

    Do you plan to encourage more countries to become CERN members?

    Of course. A lot has been done since 2010 to enlarge CERN membership, in terms of associate members in particular, but also [full] members: we got Israel, for instance, and soon we will get Romania. I will continue along this direction.

    Some people think that future governments will be unwilling to fund larger and more expensive facilities. Do you think a collider bigger than the LHC will ever be built? And will it depend on the LHC finding something new?

    The outstanding questions in physics are important and complex and difficult, and they require the deployment of all the approaches the discipline has developed, from high-energy colliders to precision experiments and cosmic surveys. High-energy accelerators have been our most powerful tools of exploration in particle physics, so we cannot abandon them. What we have to do is push the research and development in accelerator technology, so that we will be able to reach higher energy with compact accelerators.

    Nature doi:10.1038/nature.2015.19040

    See the full article here .

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    Nature is a weekly international journal publishing the finest peer-reviewed research in all fields of science and technology on the basis of its originality, importance, interdisciplinary interest, timeliness, accessibility, elegance and surprising conclusions. Nature also provides rapid, authoritative, insightful and arresting news and interpretation of topical and coming trends affecting science, scientists and the wider public.

     
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