Technion Scientists Play Key Role in Discovery of "God Particle"

Technion-Israel Institute of Technology researchers played a key role in the recent discovery of the subatomic particle many believe to be the key to explaining how matter attains its mass, and why there is diversity and life in the universe. The Higgs boson, also known as the "God Particle," was discovered at CERN, the multinational research center in Geneva, Switzerland. CERN is home to the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), the immense particle accelerator that produced the new data by colliding protons.

The Technion team was responsible for the construction and examination of the detectors of elementary particles called muons.  Without these detectors, there would have been no way to measure events that transpire within the LHC.  The LHC is engineered to accelerate light particles to high energies and make them collide, creating heavy, slow ones. Some 40 million collisions per second take place, and the detectors decide which of the muons created hold greater potential interest (i.e. “supersymmetric” ones with more energetic particles).


Center of the ATLAS Detector
Center of the ATLAS detector


The muon detection software was developed by Prof. Shlomit Tarem, of the High Energy Group in the Technion Department of Physics.  She has been involved in the project for more than 15 years, and spent roughly half her time on site at CERN.  Her colleague Prof. Yoram Rozen was responsible for the tremendous grid computing system. Students led by Prof. Tarem developed the detector control system, and several students and researchers are now continuing to work under her guidance.

The particle known as the Higgs boson and its associated Higgs field were first hypothesized in the 1960s by British physicist Peter Higgs and others to validate the “Standard Model,” which says that particles gain mass by traveling through an energy field. In order for this hypothesis to work, however, a new, previously undiscovered particle had to exist. Because the Higgs boson lasts for a mere fraction of a second, its verification had eluded scientists until now.

The Technion-Israel Institute of Technology is a major source of the innovation and brainpower that drives the Israeli economy, and a key to Israel’s renown as the world’s “Start-Up Nation.” Its three Nobel Prize winners exemplify academic excellence. Technion people, ideas and inventions make immeasurable contributions to the world including life-saving medicine, sustainable energy, computer science, water conservation and nanotechnology.

 American Technion Society (ATS) donors provide critical support for the Technion—more than $1.7 billion since its inception in 1940. Based in New York City, the ATS and its network of chapters across the U.S. provide funds for scholarships, fellowships, faculty recruitment and chairs, research, buildings, laboratories, classrooms and dormitories, and more.


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