Wayne State University

Aim Higher

News and Announcements

Bookmark and Share

Wayne State University part of team that discovered new subatomic particle; WSU scientists available for comment regarding July 4 CERN announcement

July 4, 2012

DETROIT — At a seminar held at CERN today in Geneva, Switzerland, the ATLAS and CMS experiments presented their latest preliminary results in the search for the long sought Higgs particle. Both experiments observe a new particle in the mass region around 125-126 GeV.

A team of physicists from Wayne State made important contributions to the CMS experiment. The WSU team is led by Paul Karchin, Ph.D. and Robert Harr, Ph.D., professors in the Department of Physics and Astronomy. Team members include Caroline Milstene,Ph.D., adjunct professor of physics, Mark Mattson, Ph.D., assistant professor research, Alexandre Sakharov, Ph.D., research associate, Alfredo Gutierrez, research engineer and Ph.D. students Christopher Clarke, Sowjanya Gollapinni, Chamath Kottachchi, Pramod Lamichhane and Kevin Siehl.

WSU team members are located at three key locations around the world: the CERN laboratory in Geneva, the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Illinois and at Wayne State’s campus. The WSU team contributed to the 24/7 operation of the experiment and analysis of the data. Team members became experts with different parts of the experimental apparatus including the endcap muon detector, the hadron calorimeter and the high-level trigger computing system.

"The results are preliminary but the 5 sigma signal at around 125 GeV we’re seeing is dramatic,” said Joe Incandela, CMS experiment spokesperson. “This is indeed a new particle. We know it must be a boson and it’s the heaviest boson ever found. The implications are very significant and it is precisely for this reason that we must be extremely diligent in all of our studies and cross-checks."

The results presented today are preliminary. They are based on data collected in 2011 and 2012, with the 2012 data still under analysis. Publication of the analyses shown today is expected around the end of July. A more complete picture of today’s observations will emerge later this year after the LHC provides the experiments with more data.

“WSU team members are thrilled to be a part of the historic accomplishment announced today,” said Karchin. “We are excited to embark on new studies exploring the properties of the new phenomenon and the search for new particles that likely accompany it.”

The next step will be to determine the precise nature of the particle and its significance for understanding the universe. “

"The Higgs boson is the last piece of a theory established nearly a half century ago,” said Harr. “It plays a unique role in the theory and therefore we must see if what is found is the Higgs boson or something else.”

This includes seeing if its properties are as expected for the long-sought Higgs boson or learning if it is something more exotic. The Standard Model describes the fundamental particles from which humans, and every visible thing in the universe, are made, and the forces acting between them. All the matter that can be seen, however, appears to be no more than about 4 percent of the total. A more exotic version of the Higgs particle could be a bridge to understanding the 96 percent of the universe that remains obscure.

Positive identification of the new particle’s characteristics will take considerable time and data. But whatever form the Higgs particle takes, Wayne State researchers can say for sure that our knowledge of the fundamental structure of matter is about to take a major step forward.

Drs. Harr and Karchin from Wayne State University are available to discuss these discoveries with reporters on July 4th.

Dr. Harr can be reached at 313-702-1804.
Dr. Karchin can be reached at 313-671-7871.

For additional assistance on July 4th, contact Julie O’Connor, director of Research Communications at Wayne State University at 734-748-4207.

# # #


Wayne State University is one of the nation’s pre-eminent public research institutions in an urban setting. Through its multidisciplinary approach to research and education, and its ongoing collaboration with government, industry and other institutions, the university seeks to enhance economic growth and improve the quality of life in the city of Detroit, state of Michigan and throughout the world. For more information about research at Wayne State University, visit http://www.research.wayne.edu.