35 members of CP3 among the recipients of the 2013 EPS-HEPP prize
In July 2012, the ATLAS and CMS collaborations announced the discovery of a new heavy
particle. Its properties were strikingly similar to those of the elusive Higgs particle, predicted
nearly 50 years ago by the work of three theoretical physicists Robert Brout, François Englert
and Peter Higgs, who shared the EPS HEPP Prize in 1997. Experimental confirmation turned
out to be a gigantic challenge, one that demanded numerous technological innovations and the
worldwide collaboration of thousands of particle physicists and technicians to finally create
instruments capable of definitively establishing the existence of the Higgs boson. The effort
culminated in the making of two particle detectors, ATLAS and CMS, by far the largest and
most complex detectors ever built. These unique instruments have been operating since 2009 at
the LHC accelerator at CERN, the European Laboratory for Particle Physics, which provides
particle beams at the highest energies and intensities ever reached in a laboratory on earth.
The discovery of the Higgs boson provides the last missing ingredient in the so-called Standard Model of particle physics, which was tested in detail in the past three decades. When the theory was first constructed, a major obstacle was met: the very same symmetries that form the basis of the theory required that all particles acting as force carriers have vanishing mass, whereas the carriers of the weak force are observed to have large masses. The Brout-Englert-Higgs mechanism solves this problem by a spontaneous breaking of the related symmetries, which in turn results in the force carriers becoming massive. The tell-tale signature of the remnant of this mechanism, the Higgs boson, has been eluding detection for nearly five decades.
Observing the Higgs boson has required the creation of experiments of unprecedented capability and complexity. At several thousands of tons, with one hundred million electronic channels each, the ATLAS and CMS experiments were conceived from the start, over twenty years ago, to observe the decays of the Higgs boson – or to definitively rule out its existence. The detectors have been designed to observe a billion proton-proton collisions per second, each creating hundreds of particles, and discern the signatures that correspond to the Higgs boson. Their creation has required the use, and in many cases the development, of cutting-edge technologies. In addition, the gigantesque structures were supplemented with appropriate software and computing systems that enabled the analysis of the vast amounts of data that had to be collected.
Including ex-members and emeritus, these are more than 70 members of the institute who participated to that journey as part of the CMS collaboration.
Reference url: http://eps-hepp.web.cern.ch/eps-hepp/PrizeAnnouncements/hep2013/press-release-2013-en.pdf