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Richard Ruiz | Univ. of Pittsburgh | U.S.A.

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Getting to the Bottom of the Higgs

Thursday, January 30th, 2014

Updated Friday, January 31, 2014: Candidate event of Higgs boson decaying to bottom quarks has been added at the bottom.

CMS has announced direct evidence of the Higgs coupling to bottom quarks. This is special.

Last week, the Compact Muon Solenoid Experiment, one of the two general purpose experiments at the CERN Large Hadron Collider (LHC), submitted two papers to the arXiv. The first claims the first evidence for the Higgs boson decaying directly to tau lepton pairs and the second summarizes the evidence for the Higgs boson decaying directly to bottom quarks and tau leptons. (As an aside: The summary paper is targeted for Nature Physics, so it is shorter and more broadly accessible than other ATLAS and CMS publications.) These results are special, and why they are important is the topic of today’s post. For more information about the evidence was obtained, CERN posted a nice QD post last month.

Event display of a candidate Higgs boson decaying into a tau lepton and anti-tau lepton in the CMS detector.

Fig 1. Event display of a candidate Higgs boson decaying into a tau lepton and anti-tau lepton in the ATLAS detector.

There is a litany of results from ATLAS and CMS regarding the measured properties of the Higgs boson. However, these previous observations rely on the Higgs decaying to photons, Z bosons, or W bosons, as well as the Higgs being produced from annihilating gluons or being radiated off a W or Z. Though the top quark does contribute to the Higgs-photon and Higgs-gluon interactions, none of these previous measurements directly probe how fermions (i.e., quarks and leptons) interact with the Higgs boson. Until now, suggestions that the Higgs boson couples to fermions (i) proportionally to their masses and (ii) that the couplings possess no other scaling factor were untested hypotheses. In fact, this second hypothesis remains untested.


Fig. 2: Event display of a candidate Higgs boson decaying into a tau lepton and anti-tau lepton in the CMS detector.

As it stands, CMS claims “strong evidence for the direct coupling of the 125 GeV Higgs boson” to bottom quarks and tau leptons. ATLAS has comparable evidence but only for tau leptons. The CMS experiment’s statistical significance of the signal versus the “no Higgs-to-fermion couplings” hypothesis is 3.8 standard deviations, so no rigorous discovery yet (5 standard deviations is required). For ATLAS, it is 4.1 standard deviations. The collaborations still need to collect more data to satisfactorily validate such an incredible claim. However, this should not detract from that fact that we are witnessing phenomena never before seen in nature. This is new physics as far as I am concerned, and both ATLAS and CMS should be congratulated on discovering it.

Event display of a candidate Higgs boson decaying into a tau lepton and anti-tau lepton in the CMS detector.

Fig. 3: Event display of a candidate Higgs boson decaying into a bottom quark and anti-bottom quark in the ATLAS detector. HT to Jon Butterworth for the link.

The Next Step

Once enough data has been collected to firmly and undoubtedly demonstrate that quarks and leptons directly interact with the Higgs, the real tests of the Standard Model of particle physics start up. In the Standard Model, the strength at which a fermion interacts with the Higgs is proportional to the fermion mass and inversely proportional to the ground state energy of the Higgs field. There is no other factor involved. This is definitively not the case for a plethora of new physics models, including scenarios with multiple Higgs bosons, like supersymmetry, as well as scenarios with new, heavy fermions (heavy bottom quark and tau lepton partners). This is definitely a case of using newly discovered physics to find more new physics.

Happy Colliding.

– Richard (@bravelittlemuon)

PS I was unable to find an event display of a Higgs boson candidate decaying into a pair of bottom quarks. If anyone knows where I can find one, I would be very grateful.

PSS Much gratitude toward Jon Butterworth for providing a link to Higgs-bbar candidate events.


Questions I Wish I Asked When Applying for Graduate School

Monday, October 21st, 2013

Grad School in the sciences is a life-changing endeavour, so do not be afraid to ask questions.

Hi Folks,

Quantum Diaries is not just a place to learn the latest news in particle physics; it is also a resource. It is a forum for sharing ideas and experiences.

In science, it is almost always necessary to have a PhD, but what is a PhD? It is a certification that the holder has demonstrated unambiguously her or his ability to thoroughly carry out an independent investigation addressing a well-defined question. Unsurprisingly, the journey to earning a PhD is never light work, but nor should it be. Scientists undertake painstaking work to learn about nature, its underpinnings, and all the wonderful phenomena that occur in everyday life. This journey, however, is also filled with unexpected consequences, disappointment, and sometimes even heartbreak.

It is also that time of year again when people start compiling their CVs, resumes, research statements, and personal statements, that time of year when people begin applying for graduate programs. For this post, I have asked a number of good friends and colleagues, from current graduate students to current post docs, what questions they wished they had asked when apply for graduate school, selecting a school, and selecting a research group.

However, if you are interested in applying to for PhD programs, you should always first yourself,  “Why do I want a research degree like a PhD?”

If you have an experience, question, or thought that you would like to share, comment below! A longer list only provides more information for applicants.

As Always, Happy Colliding

– Richard (@bravelittlemuon)

PS I would like to thank Adam, Amy, John, Josh, Lauren, Mike, Riti, and Sam for their contributions.

Applying to Graduate School:

“When scouting for grad schools, I investigated the top 40 schools in my program of interest.  For chemistry, research primarily occurs in one or two research labs, so for each school, I investigated the faculty list and group research pages.  I eliminated any school where there werre fewer than two faculty members whose fields I could see myself pursuing.  This narrowed down my list to about a dozen schools.  I then filtered based on location: I enjoy being near a big city, so I removed any school in a non-ideal location.  This let me with half a dozen schools, to which I applied.” – Adam Weingarten, Chemistry, Northwestern

“If there is faculty member you are interested in working for, ask both the professor and especially the students separately about the average length of time it takes students to graduate, and how long financial support might be available.” – Lauren Jarocha, Chemistry, UNC

“My university has a pretty small physics program that, presently, only specializes in a few areas. A great deal of the research from my lab happens in conjunction with other local institutes (such as NIST and NIH) or with members of the chemistry or biology departments. If you are interested in a smaller department, ask professors about Institutes and interdisciplinary studies that they might have some connection to, be it within academia or industry.” – Marguerite Brown, Physics, Georgetown

“If you can afford the application fees and the time, apply as broadly as you can.  It’s good to have options when it comes time to make final decisions about where to go. That said, don’t aim too high (you want to make sure you have realistic schools on your list, whatever “realistic” means given your grades and experience), and don’t aim too low (don’t waste time and money applying to a school that you wouldn’t go to even if it was the only school that accepted you, whether because of academics, location, or anything else).  Be as honest as possible with yourself on that front and get input from trusted older students and professors.  On the flip side, if you don’t get rejected from at least one or two schools, you didn’t aim high enough.  You want a blend of reach schools and realistic schools.” – Amy Lowitz, Physics, Wisconsin

Choosing a School

“One of the most common mistakes I see prospective graduate students make is choosing their institution based on wanting to work with a specific professor without getting a clear enough idea of the funding situation in that lab.  Don’t just ask the professor about funding.  Also ask their graduate students when the professor isn’t present.  Even then, you may have to read between the lines; funding can be a delicate subject, especially when it is lacking.” – Amy Lowitz, Physics, Wisconsin

“If you have a particular subfield/group you *know* you are interested in, check how many profs/postdocs/grads are in these groups, check if there are likely to be open slots, and if there are only 1 or 2 open slots make sure you know how to secure one. If they tell you there are currently no open slots, take this to mean that this group is probably closed for everything but the most exceptional circumstances, and do not take into account that group when making your decision.” – Samuel Ducatman, Physics, Wisconsin

“When choosing a school, I based my decision on how happy the grad students seemed, how energetic/curious the faculty appeared, and if the location would allow me to have extracurricular pursuits (such as writing, improv, playing games with people, going to the movies…basically a location where I could live in for 4-6 years).” – Adam Weingarten, Chemistry, Northwestern

“At the visitor weekend, pay attention to how happy the [current] grads seem. Remember they are likely to be primarily 1st years, who generally are the most happy, but still check. Pay attention to the other students visiting, some of them will be in your incoming class. Make sure there is a good social vibe.” – Samuel Ducatman, Physics, Wisconsin

“When I was visiting a prospective grad student, there was a professor at a university I was visiting whose research I was really interested in, but the university would only allow tuition support for 5 years. When I asked his students about graduation rates and times, however, the answer I got was, ‘Anyone who graduates in 5 years hasn’t actually learned anything, it takes at least 7 or 8 years before people should really graduate anyway. Seven years is average for our group.’ In some fields, there is a stigma associated with longer graduation times and a financial burden that you may have to plan for in advance.” – Lauren Jarocha, Chemistry, UNC

Choosing a Group

“When considering a sub-field, look for what interests you of course, but bear in mind that many people change their focus, many don’t know exactly what they want to do immediately upon entering grad school, and your picture of the different areas of research may change over time. Ask around among your contemporaries and older students, especially when it comes to particular advisers.” – Joshua Sayre, PhD, Physics, Pittsburgh
“If you know that you’re interested in an academic career that is more teaching oriented or research oriented, ask about teaching or grant writing opportunities, respectively. I know plenty of fellow students who didn’t start asking about teaching opportunities their 4th or 5th year of their program, and often by then it was too late. If you know that finding funding will be a big part of your future, joining a group where the students take an active part in writing grants and grant renewals is invaluable experience.” –  Lauren Jarocha, Chemistry, UNC
“For choosing groups, I attended group and subgroup meetings, met with faculty to discuss research and ideas, and read several recent publications from each group of interest.  What I did not do (and wish I had) was talk with the graduate students, see how they and the group operated.  For example, I am very motivated and curious to try new ideas, so in my current research group my PI plays a minimal role in my life.  The most important aspect is how well one’s working style fits with the group mentality, followed by research interest.  There’s a ton of cool, exciting research going on, but finding a group with fun, happy, motivated people will make or break the PhD experience.” – Adam Weingarten, Chemistry, Northwestern
“I went into [Condensed Matter Theory] and not [X] because (1) In the summer of my first year I had no research, and I came close to having no income because of this. I realized I needed someone who could promise me research/funding and real advising. The [X] group was pretty filled up (and there were some politics), so it was impossible to get more than this. (2) I thought the professors in CMT treated me with more respect then the [X] profs I talked to.” – John Doe, Physics
“I believe that choosing which grad schools to apply to should primarily be about the research, so this question is more for after you’ve (hopefully) been accepted to a couple schools.  If you are going into theoretical physics, and if you don’t have some sort of fellowship from them or an outside agency, ask them how much their theory students [teach].  Do they have to TA every semester for their funding?  Do they at least get summers off?  Or do they only have to TA for the first one or two years?  This shouldn’t be the primary factor in deciding where to go – research always is – but it’s not something that should be ignored completely.  Teaching is usually somewhat rewarding in my experience, but it adds absolutely no benefit to your career if you are focused on a professorship at a research university.  Every hour you spend steaching is an hour someone else is researching and you aren’t.  And 10-20 hours a week of teaching adds up.” – Michael Saelim, Physics, Cornell

The International Linear Collider: More than Just a Higgs Factory

Friday, August 23rd, 2013

The ILC site has been chosen. What does this mean for Japan?

Credit: linearcollider.org

The two ILC candidate sites: Sefuri in the South and Kitakami in the North. Credit: linearcollider.org

Hi Folks,

It is official [Japanese1,Japanese2]: the Linear Collider Collaboration and the Japanese physics community have selected the Kitakami mountain range in northern Japan as the site for the proposed International Linear Collider. Kitakami is a located in the Iwate Prefecture and is just north of the Miyagi prefecture, the epicenter of the 2011 Tohoku Earthquake. Having visited the site in June, I cannot aptly express how gorgeous the area is, but more importantly, how well-prepared Iwate City is for this responsibility.

Science is cumulative: new discoveries are used to make more discoveries about how nature works, and physics is no different. The discovery of the Higgs boson at the Large Hadron Collider was a momentous event. With its discovery, physicists proved how some particles have mass and why others have no mass at all. The Higgs boson plays a special role in this process, and after finally finding it, we are determined to learn more about the Higgs. The International Linear Collider (ILC) is a proposed Higgs boson factory that would allow us to intimately understand the Higgs. Spanning 19 miles (31 km) [310 football pitches/soccer fields], if constructed, the ILC will smash together electrons and their antimatter partners, positrons, to produce a Higgs boson (along with a Z boson). In such a clean environment (compared to proton colliders), ultra-precise measurements of the Higgs boson’s properties can be made, and thereby elucidate the nature of this shiny new particle.

credit: li

The general overview schematic of the International Linear Collider. Credit: linearcollider.org

However, the ILC is more than just a experiment. Designing, constructing, and operating the machine for 20 years will be a huge undertaking with lasting effects. For staters, the collider’s Technical Design Report (TDR), which contains every imaginable detail minus the actual blueprints, estimates the cost of the new accelerator to be 7.8 billion USD (2012 dollars). This is not a bad thing. Supposing 50% of the support came from Asia, 25% from the Americas, and 25% from Europe, that would be nearly 2 billion USD invested in new radio frequency technology in England, Germany, and Italy. In the US, it would be nearly 2 billion USD invested in coastal and Midwestern laboratories developing new cryogenic and superconducting technology. In Asia, this would be nearly 4 billion USD invested in these technologies as well as pure labor and construction. Just as the LHC was a boon on the European economy, a Japanese-based ILC will be a boon for an economy temporarily devastated  by an historic earthquake and tsunami. These are just hypothetical numbers; the real economic impact will be  larger.

I had the opportunity to visit Kitakami this past June as a part of a Higgs workshop hosted by Tohoku University. Many things are worth noting. The first is just how gorgeous the site is. Despite its lush appearance, the site offers several geological advantages, including stability against earthquakes of any size. Despite its proximity to the 2011 earthquake and the subsequent tsunami, this area was naturally protected by the mountains. Below is a photo of the Kitakami mountains that I took while visiting the site. Interestingly, I took the photo from the UNESCO World Heritage site Hiraizumi. The ILC is designed to sit between the two mountains in the picture.


The Kitamaki Mountain Range as seen from the UNESCO World Heritage Site in Hiraizumi, Japan. Credit: Mine

What I want to point out in the picture below is the futuristic-looking set of tracks running across the photo. That is the rail line for the JR East bullet train, aka the Tohoku Shinkansen. In other words, the ILC site neighbours a very major transportation line connecting the Japanese capital Tokyo to the northern coast. It takes the train just over 2 hours to traverse the 250 miles (406.3 km) from Tokyo station to the Ichinoseki station in Iwate. The nearest major city is Sendai, capital of Miyagi, home to the renown Tohoku University, and is only a 10 minute shinkansen ride from Ichinoseki station.


The Kitamaki Mountain Range as seen from the UNESCO World Heritage Site in Hiraizumi, Japan. Credit: Mine

What surprised me is how excited the local community is about the collider. After exiting the Ichinoseki station I discovered this subtle sign of support:

There is much community support for the ILC: The Ichinoseki Shinkansen Station in Iwate Prefecture, Japan. Credit: Mine

The residents of Iwate and Miyagi, independent of any official lobbying organization, have formed their own “ILC Support Committee.” They even have their own facebook page. Over the past year, the residents have invited local university physicists to give public lectures on what the ILC is; they have requested that more English, Chinese, Korean, and Tagalog language classes be offered at local community centers; that more Japanese language classes for foreigners are offered in these same facilities; and have even discussed with city officials how to prepare Iwate for the prospect of a rapid increase in population over the next 20 years.

Despite all this, the real surprises were the pamphlets. Iwate has seriously thought this through.


Pamphlets showcasing the Kitakami Mountain Range in Iwate, Japan. Credit: Mine

The level of detail in the pamphlets is impressive. My favourite pamphlet has the phrase, “Ray of Hope: Tohoku Is Ready to Welcome the ILC” on the front cover. Inside is a list of ways to reach the ILC site and the time it takes. For example: it takes 12 hours 50 minutes to reach Tokyo from Rome and 9 hours 40 minutes from Sydney. The brochure elaborates that the Kitakami mountains maintain roughly the same temperature as Switzerland (except in August-September) but collects much more precipitation through the year. Considering that CERN is located in Geneva, Switzerland, and that many LHC experimentalists will likely become ILC experimentalists, the comparison is very helpful. The at-a-glance annual festival schedule is just icing on the cake.


“Ray of Hope” pamphlet describing how to each different ILC campuses by train.  Credit: Mine

Now that the ILC site has been selected, surveys of the land can be conducted so that blue prints and a finalized cost estimate can be established. From my discussions with people involved in the site selection process, the decision was very difficult. I have not visited the Fukuoka site, though I am told it is a comparably impressive location. It will be a while still before any decision to break ground is made. And until that happens, there is plenty of work to do.

Happy Colliding

– Richard (@bravelittlemuon)



The Take Away Message of Snowmass on the Mississippi

Friday, August 9th, 2013

Snowmass Came and Passed. What have we learned from it?


Skyline of Minneapolis, home of the University of Minnesota and host city of the Community Summer Study 2013: Snowmass on the Mississippi.

Hi All,

Science is big. It is the systematic study of nature, so it has to be big. In another way, science is about asking questions, questions that expands our knowledge of nature just a bit more. Innocuous questions like, “Why do apples fall to the ground?”, “How do magnets work?”, or “How does an electron get its mass?” have lead to understanding much more about the universe than expected. Our jobs as scientists come down to three duties: inventing questions, proposing answers (called hypotheses), and testing these proposals.

As particle physicists, we ask “What is the universe made of?” and “What holds the universe together?”  Finding out that planets and stars only make up 5% of the universe really makes one pause and wonder, well, what about everything else?

From neutrino masses, to the Higgs boson, to the cosmic microwave background, we have learned  much about the origin of mass in the Universe as well as the origin of the Universe itself in the past 10 years. Building on recent discoveries, particle physicists from around the world have been working together for over a year to push our questions further. Progress in science is incremental, and after 10 days at the Community Summer Study 2013: Snowmass on the Mississippi Conference, hosted by the University of Minnesota, we have a collection of questions that will drive and define particle physic for the next 20 years. Each question is an incremental step, but each answer will allow us to expand our knowledge of nature.

I had a chance to speak with SLAC‘s Michael Peskin, a convener for the Snowmass Energy Frontier study group and author of the definitive textbook on Quantum Field Theory, on how he sees the high energy physics community proceeding after Snowmass. “The community did a lot of listening at Snowmass. High energy physics is pursuing a very broad array of questions.  I think that we now appreciate better how important all of these questions are, and that there are real strategies for answering them.”  An important theme of Snowmass, Peskin said, was “the need for long-term, global planning”.  He pointed to the continuing success of the Large Hadron Collider, which is the result of the efforts of thousands of scientists around the world.  This success would not have happened without such a large-scale, global  effort.  “This is how high energy physics will have to be, in all of its subfields, to answer our big questions.”

Summary presentations of all the work done for Snowmass are linked below in pdf form and are divided into two categories: how to approach questions (Frontiers) and what will enable us to answer these questions. These two categories represent the mission of the US Department of Energy’s Office of Science. A summary of the summaries is at the bottom.

What is the absolute neutrino mass scale? What is the neutrino mass ordering? Is CP violated in the neutrino sector? What new knowledge will neutrinos from astrophysical sources bring?

What is dark matter? What is dark energy? Why more matter than anti-matter? What is the physics of the Universe at the highest energies?

Where are the new particles that modify the Higgs, t, W couplings? What particles comprise the dark matter? Why is the Higgs boson so light?

The growth in data drives need for continued R&D investment in data management, data access methods, networking. Challenging resource needs require efficient and flexible use of all resources HEP needs both Distributed High-Throughput computing (experiment program) and High-Performance computing (mostly theory/simulation/modeling)

Encourage and enable physicists to be involved in and support local, national and world-wide efforts that offer long–term professional development and training opportunities for educators (including pre-service educators), using best practice and approaches supported by physics education research. and Create learning opportunities for students of all ages, including classroom, out-of-school and online activities that allow students to explore particle physics

Our vision is for the US to have an instrumentation program for particle physics that enables the US to maintain a scientific leadership position in a broad, global, experimental program; and develops new detection capabilities that provides for cutting edge contributions to a world program

Is dark energy a cosmological constant? Is it a vacuum energy? From where do ultra high energy cosmic rays originate? From where do ultra high energy neutrinos originate?

How would one build a 100 TeV scale hadron collider? How would one build a lepton collider at >1 TeV? Can multi-MW targets survive? If so, for how long?

To provide a conduit for untenured (young) particle physicists to participate in the Community Summer Study. To facilitate and encourage young people to get involved.
Become a long term asset to the field and a place where young peoples voices can be heard

Several great posts from QD (Family, Young, Frontierland), Symmetry Magazine (Push, Q&A, IceSlam, Decade), and even real-time updates from QD’s Ken Bloom (@kenbloomunl) and myself (@bravelittlemuon) via #Snowmass are available. All presentations can be found at the Snowmass Indico page.

Until next time, happy colliding.

– Richard (@bravelittlemuon)

Community Summer Study: Snowmass 2013 Poster

Community Summer Study: Snowmass 2013 Poster


The Definite Article Problem

Tuesday, June 4th, 2013

A Little Bit of the Higgs Boson for Everyone

Hi All,

This post is long overdue but nonetheless I am thrilled to finally write it. We have discovered the a some  ??? Higgs boson, and it is precisely my trouble writing this very sentence that inspires a new post. CERN‘s press office has keenly presented a new question in particle physics known as the Definite Article Problem:

Have we discovered “a” Higgs boson or “the” Higgs boson?

We can express the Article problem in another way:

Are there more Higgs bosons?

Before I touch upon that problem, I want to explain about why the Higgs boson is important. In particular, I want to talk about the Sun! Yes, the Sun.


The Higgs Boson and Electroweak Symmetry Breaking is Important because the Sun Shines.

Okay, there is no way to avoid this: I really like the sun.

Slide Credit: Mine. Image Credit: GOES Collaboration

It shines. It keeps the planet warm. There is liquid water on Earth, and some very tasty plants too.

Slide Credit: Mine. Image Credit: NobelPrize.org

At the heart of the Sun is a ranging nuclear furnace and involves two types of processes: (1) those that involve the Strong nuclear force and (2) those that involve the Weak nuclear force (look for the neutrinos!). The two types of processes work together in a solar relay race to complete a circuit, only to do it over and over again for billions of years. And just like a real relay race, the speed at which the circuit is finished is set by the slowest member. In this case, the Weak force is the limiting factor and considerably slows down the rate at which the sun could theoretically operate. If we make the Weak force stronger, then the Sun would shine more brightly. Conversely, if we make the Weak force even weaker, the Sun would be dimmer.

Slide Credit: Mine. Image Credit: NobelPrize.org

From studying the decays of radioactive substances, we have learned that the rate of Weak nuclear processes is set by a physical constant called Fermi’s Constant. Fermi’s Constant is represented by symbol GF. From study the Higgs boson and the Higgs Mechanism, we have learned that Fermi’s Constant is literally just another constant, v, in disguise. This second physical constant (v) is called the Higgs “vacuum expectation value” , or “vev” for short, and is the amount of energy the Higgs field has at all times relative to the vacuum.

The point I want to make is this: If we increase the Higgs vev, Fermi’s Constant gets smaller, which reduces the rate of Weak nuclear interactions. In other words, a larger Higgs vev would make the sun shine less brightly. Going the other way, a smaller Higgs vev would make the sun shine more brightly. (This is really cool!)

Slide Credit: Mine. Image Credit: Jacky-Boi

The Higgs vev is responsible for some other things, too. It is a source of energy from which all elementary particles can draw. Through the Higgs Mechanism, the Higgs field provides mass to all elementary particles and massive bosons. One would think that for such an important particle we would have a firm theoretical understanding it, but we do not.

Credit: Mine

We have a very poor theoretical understanding of the Higgs boson. Among other things, according to our current understanding of the Higgs boson, the particle should be much heavier than what we have measured.

Credit: Mine

The Definite Article Problem

There are lots of possible solutions to the problems and theoretical inconsistencies we have discovered relating to the Standard Model Higgs boson. Many of these ideas hypothesize the existence of other Higgs bosons or particles that would interact like the Higgs boson. There are also scenarios where Higgses have identity crises: the Higgs boson we have observed could be a quantum mechanical combination (superposition) of several Higgs bosons.

I do not know if there are additional Higgses. Truthfully, there are many attractive proposals that require upping the number Higgs bosons. What I do know is that our Higgs boson is interesting and merits much further studying.


Credit: Mine

Happy Colliding

– richard (@bravelittlemuon)

PS In case anyone is wondering, yes, I did take screen shots from previous talks and turn them into a DQ post.


Using Physics to Find More Physics

Thursday, February 14th, 2013

The best kind of physics is the new kind. How do you find new physics? By using physics of course!

Hi All,

A maxim in particle physics says to

use physics to find more physics!

I forget from where or whom I first heard this saying but the idea goes something like this: When a new particle is discovered, in principle, our knowledge of the particle only consists of what we have directly measured and what the theory that lead us to its discovery tells us. The theory, of course, is most likely incorrect but that is the point. As far as we know, any newly discovered particle might have some hereto unknown quantum number. But if this is the case, then by scrutinizing a new particle we might get lucky, very luck and discover something completely unexpected. One perfect example comes from neutrino physics. After finally discovering them, physicists learned eventually how to make beams of neutrinos only to find out (1) that there are several types of neutrinos and (2) they have mass. Another example involves the W boson and brief history of modern particle colliders.

The purpose of particle colliders like the Super Proton Synchrotron (SPS), the Large Electron-Positron collider (LEP), the Tevatron, or the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is to test physical theories in order to ultimately figure out what works and doesn’t work. Sometimes all the time we get disappointing results (technicolor, extra dimensions, additional vector bosons), and sometimes rarely we score big (top quark, Higgs boson). It’s all a part of the business. The utility of colliders is that, with them, there are multiple ways hypotheses can be tested. One particularly powerful method to test models like the Standard Model of Particle Physics (SM) is to look for processes that are both (a) relatively rare and (b) relatively unique. For example: in the theory that governs how light and matter interact, also known as Quantum Electrodynamics (QED), we can take an electron (e-) and its antiparticle, a positron, (e+), and use them to produce two photons, the particles of light (γ). Figure 1 below shows how this can happen diagrammatically. In short, either the electron or the positron first radiate a photon (γ), and then the electron and positron annihilate forming the second photon (γ).

Figure 1. A Feynman diagram representing the production of two photons from electron (e-) and positron (e+) annihilation.

In the 1990s, back when the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) was just a dream on paper, another accelerator called the Large Electron-Positron collider (LEP) existed in the same tunnel the LHC currently occupies. The goal of LEP was to study the very fine details (“precision work”) of the theory we now call the Standard Model of Particle Physics (SM). At the time, this was particularly concerning because the W and Z bosons had only been discovered ten years prior at the Super Proton Synchrotron collider (SPS), and establishing the SM hinged on knowing their properties. LEP, along with the Tevatron, did just this. In fact, some of the most precisely measured results of the SM bosons still come from LEP.

At LEP, physicists decided to pursue an idea that made many of the same people who discovered the W and Z bosons pause for just a moment. LEP experimentalists set out to produce two W bosons and two Z bosons at the same time. Just like the diagram for producing two photons in QED (Fig. 1), there is diagram depicting how two W bosons can be produced from an electron (e-) and positron (e+). See Figure 2 below. The diagram for producing two Z bosons is identical to Fig. 1, just replace “γ” with “Z“. In the case of W+W- production, either an electron or a positron first radiates a W boson; an e- will radiate a negatively charged W boson, W-, and an e+ will radiate an positively charge W boson, W+. After radiating the boson, the electron (or positron!) is converted into a neutrino (or anti-neutrino!), and annihilates with the positron (or electron!) to produce the second W boson.

Figure 2: A Feynman digram representing how the neutrino contributes to W+W- pair production from electron (e-) and positron (e+) annihilation.

However, unlike producing two photons, there is another process that can contribute to producing two W bosons. Figure 3 below shows that an electron (e-) and positron (e+) can also annihilate into a photon (or a Z boson), and then the photon (or Z boson) can split into a W+ and W- boson.

Figure 3: A Feynman digram representing how the photon and Z boson contribute to W+W- pair production from electron (e-) and positron (e+) annihilation.

In the 2000s, physicists at the Tevatron took this a step further. It starts by recognizing that since electrons and positrons can produce two W bosons, and since physics going forward in time behaves identical to physics operating backward in time (time-reversal symmetry), then two W bosons can be used to produce an electron and positron. Figure 4 below shows how this can happen diagrammatically.

Figure 4: A Feynman diagram representing how to produce an electron (e-) and positron (e+) pair from a W+ and W- boson pair.

Here is physicists got clever. The diagram in Figure 3 and the left diagram in Figure 4 have the same intermediate particle: a photon or Z boson. The rules of quantum field theory allow us to then take the second half of Fig. 3 and the first half of the left diagram in Fig. 4, and attach them! As a result, two bosons can be used to produce two more bosons! A few examples: a W+ boson and a W- boson can annihilate or exchange a photon (or Z boson) and produce another two W bosons (Figure 5 below); two W bosons can also go in and produce two photons, two Z bosons, or a photon and Z boson; in fact, two photons can go in and even produce two W bosons! This sort of phenomena is generically called “Weak Boson Scattering,” “Vector Boson Scattering,” or “Vector Boson Fusion,” and in 2006, the Tevatron‘s DZero detector experiment provided the proof of this process when it measured the rate of two Z bosons being produced simultaneously (press release).

Figure 5: A Feynman diagram representing how the photon and Z boson contribute to W+W- scattering.

Warning: Technical Detail. Abandon hope all ye who… I mean, Weak Boson Scattering at the Tevatron differs from producing two bosons at LEP in a subtle way. At LEP, both the electron (e-) and positron (e+) ultimately annihilated and ceased to exist. At the Tevatron, each initial W and Z boson came from a quark (or antiquark) that radiated the boson but did not ultimately annihilate (Figure 6 below.). The analogous process that occurred at LEP did occur at the Tevatron (and vice versa), but the two processes can be to some extent distinguished from each other.

Figure 6: Diagram depicting the process known as WW Scattering, where two quarks from two protons each radiate a W boson that then elastically interact with one another.

However, we have to be careful here. Much like how we needed to include an additional diagram when progressing from producing two photons to W+W- production with electrons and positrons, we need to include additional diagrams for W+W- production when starting with two W bosons. A hugely important process that warranted the Higgs boson’s existence long before it was found is when we replace the intermediate photon and Z in Fig. 5 (above)  with a Higgs boson. See Figure 7 below. By measuring the rate of weak boson scattering, one can in principle infer the mass of the Higgs boson. This is precisely how physicists at the Tevatron and the LHC were able to rule out the existence of a very massive Higgs boson.

Figure 7: A Feynman diagram representing how the Higgs boson contributes to W+W- scattering.

In fewer than 30 years, physicists have gone from discovering the W and Z bosons (SPS),  to producing two of them simultaneously (LEP), to creating a proof-of-principle vector boson collider (Tevatron), to using a new vector boson collider as a probe for new physics (LHC)! We have already discovered the Higgs boson using this method and we are definitely hoping to find something more. If there are more vector bosons in the universe, then it is certainly possible that they may contribute to vector boson scattering by replacing any of the lines in Fig. 5; see Figure 8 below.

Figure 8: A Feynman diagram representing how a new vector boson (?) can contribute to W+W- scattering.

It is also certainly possible that there are additional Higgs bosons. Those can contribute to vector boson scattering by replacing the Higgs boson in Fig. 7; see Figure 9 below.

Figure 9: A Feynman diagram representing how a new scalar (?) can contribute to W+W- scattering.

This is how research in high energy physics progresses: discover something new, turning it around, and throwing it back at itself. You can be certain that there is already research into scattering Higgs bosons and how this next iteration of collisions could be excellent tests of theories like technicolor, extra dimensions, or the existence of additional vector bosons. Until next time!


Happy Colliding

– richard (@bravelittlemuon)



Read-Set-Go: The LHC 2012 Schedule

Thursday, September 20th, 2012

From Now Until Mid-December, Expect One Thing from the LHC: More Collisions.

Figure 1: Integrated luminosity for LHC Experiments versus time. 8 TeV proton-proton collisions began in April 2012. Credit: CERN


Hi All,

Quick post today. That plot above represents the amount of 8 TeV data collected by the LHC experiments. As of this month, the ATLAS and CMS detector experiments have each collected 15 fb-1 of data. A single fb-1 (pronounced: inverse femto-barn) is equivalent to 70 trillion proton-proton collisions. In other words, ATLAS and CMS have each observed 1,050,000,000,000,000 proton-proton collisions. That is 1.05 thousand-trillion, or 1.05×1015.

To understand how gargantuan a number this is, consider that it took the LHC’s predecessor, the Tevatron, 24 years to deliver 12 fb-1 of proton-antiproton collisions*. The LHC has collected this much data in five months. Furthermore,  proton-proton collisions will officially continue until at least December 16th, at which time CERN will shut off the collider for the holiday season. Near the beginning of the calendar year, we can expect the LHC to collide lead ions for a while before the long, two-year shut down. During this time, the LHC magnets will be upgraded in order to allow protons to run at 13 or 14 TeV, and the detector experiments will get some much-needed tender loving care maintenance and upgrades.

To estimate how much more data we might get before the New Year, let’s assume that the LHC will deliver 0.150 fb-1 per day from now until December 16th. I consider this to be a conservative estimation, but I refer you to the LHC’s Performance and Statistics page. I also assume that the experiments operate at 100% efficiency (not so conservative but good enough). Running 7 days a week puts us at a little over 1 fb-1 per week. According to the LHC schedule, there about about 10 more weeks of running (12 weeks until Dec. 16 minus 2 weeks for “machine development”).

By this estimation, both ATLAS and CMS will have at least 25 fb-1 of data each before shut down!

25 fb-1 translates to 1.75 thousand-trillion proton-proton collisions, more than four times as much 8 TeV data used to discover the Higgs boson in July**.

Fellow QDer Ken Bloom has a terrific breakdown of what all this extra data means for studying physics. Up-to-the-minute updates about the LHC’s performance are available via the LHC Programme Coordinate Page, @LHCstatus, and @LHCmode. There are no on-going collisions at the moment because the LHC is currently under a technical stop/beam recommissioning/machine development/scrubbing, but things will be back to normal next week.


Happy Colliding

– richard (@bravelittlemuon)


* 10 fb-1 were recorded each by CDF and DZero, but to be fair, it also took Fermilab about 100 million protons to make 20 or so antiprotons.

** The Higgs boson discovery used 5 fb-1 of 7 TeV data and 5.5 fb-1 of 8 TeV data


Why The Higgs Boson Should Not Exist and Why This Is a Good Thing

Thursday, September 13th, 2012

Theoretically, the Higgs boson solves a lot of problems. Theoretically, this Higgs boson is a problem.

Greetings from the good ol’ U.S. of A.

Now that Fall is here, classes are going, holidays are wrapping up, and research programs are in full steam. Unfortunately, all is not well in the Wonderful World of Physics. To refresh, back on 4th of July, the LHC experiments announced the outstanding and historical discovery of a new particle with properties consistent with the Standard Model Higgs boson. No doubt, this is a fantastic feat by the experiments, a triumph and culmination of a decades-long endeavor. However, there is deep concern about the existence of a 125 GeV Higgs boson. Being roughly 130 times the proton’s mass, this Higgs boson is too light. A full and formal calculation of the Higgs boson’s mass, according to the theory that predicts it, places the Higgs mass pretty close to infinity. Obviously, the Higgs boson’s mass is less than infinite. So let’s talk mass and why this is still a very good thing for particle physics.

For an introduction to the Higgs boson, click here, here, or here (This last one is pretty good).

The Standard Higgs

The Standard Model of Particle Physics (SM) is the theory that describes, well, everything with the exception of gravity (Yes, this is admittedly a pretty big exception).  It may sound pompous and arrogant, but the SM really does a good job at explaining how things work: things like the lights in your kitchen, or smoke detectors, or the sun.

Though if this “theory of almost-everything” can do all this, then when written out explicitly, it must be pretty big, right? Yes. The answer is yes. Undeniably, yes. When written out fully and explicitly, the “Lagrangian of the Standard Model” looks like this (click to enlarge):

Figure 1: The Standard Model Lagrangian in the Feynman Gauge. Credit: T.D. Gutierrez

This rather infamous and impressive piece of work is by Prof. Thomas Gutierrez of Cal Poly SLO. Today, however, we only care about two terms (look for the red circles):

Figure 2: The Standard Model Lagrangian in the Feynman Gauge with the Higgs boson tree-level mass and 4-Higgs vertex interactions terms circles. Original Credit: T.D. Gutierrez

The first term is pretty straightforward. It expresses the fact that the Higgs boson has a mass, and this can represented by the Feynman diagram in Fig 3. (below). As simple and uneventful as this line may appear, its existence has a profound impact on the properties of the Higgs boson. For example, because of its mass, the Higgs boson can never travel at the speed of light; this is the complete opposite for the massless photon, which can only travel at the speed of light. The existence of the diagram if Fig. 3 also tells us exactly how a Higgs boson (denoted by h) travels from one place in the Universe, let’s call is x, to another place in the Universe, let’s call it y. Armed with this information, and a few other details, we can calculate the probability that a Higgs boson will travel from point x to point y, or if it will decay at some point in between.

Figure 3: The tree-level Feynman diagram the represents a SM Higgs boson (h) propagating from a point x in the Universe to a point y somewhere else in the Universe. Credit: Mine

The second term is an interesting little fella. It expresses the way the Higgs boson can interact with other Higgs bosons, or even itself. The Feynman diagram associated with this second term is in Fig. 4. It implies that there is a probability a Higgs boson (at position w) and a second Higgs boson (at position x) can collide into each other at some point in the Universe, annihilate, and then produce two Higgs bosons (at point z and y). To recap: two Higgses go in, two Higgses go out.

Figure 4: The tree-level Feynman diagram the represents two SM Higgs bosons (h) at points w and x in the Universe annihilating and producing two new SM Higgs bosons at points z and y somewhere else in the Universe. Credit: Mine

This next step may seem a little out-of-the-blue and unmotivated, but let’s suppose that one of the incoming Higgs bosons was also one of the outgoing Higgs bosons. This is equivalent to supposing that w was equal to z. The Feynman diagram would look like Fig. 5 (below).

Figure 5: By making an incoming Higgs boson (h) the same as an outgoing Higgs boson in the 4-Higgs interaction term, we can transform the tree-level 4-Higgs interaction term into the 1-loop level correction to the Fig. 1, the diagram the represents the propagation of a Higgs boson in the Universe. Credit: Mine

In words, this “new” diagram states that as a Higgs boson (h) at position x travels to position y, it will emit and absorb a second Higgs boson somewhere in between x and y. Yes, the Higgs boson can and will emit and absorb a second Higgs boson.

If you look carefully, this new diagram has the same starting point and ending point at our first diagram in Fig. 3, the one that described the a Higgs boson traveling from position x to position y. According to the well-tested rules of quantum mechanics, if two diagrams have the same starting and ending conditions, then both diagrams contribute to all the same processes and both must be included in any calculation that has the same stating and ending points. In terms of Feynman diagrams, if we want to talk about a Higgs boson traveling from point x to point y, then we need to look no further than Fig. 6.


Figure 6: The tree-level (L) and 1-loop level (R) contributions to a Higgs boson (h) traveling from point x to point y. Credit: Mine

What Does This All Mean?

Now that I am done building things up, let me quickly get to the point. The second diagram can be considered a “correction” to the first diagram. The first diagram is present because the Higgs boson is allowed to have mass (mH). In a very real sense, the second diagram is a correction to the Higgs boson’s mass. In a single equation, the two diagrams in Fig. 6 imply

Equation 1: The theoretical prediction for the SM Higgs boson's observed mass, which includes the "tree-level" contribution ("free parameter"), and 1-loop level contribution ("cutoff"). Credit: Mine

In Eq. (1), term on the far left is the Higgs boson’s mass that has been experimentally measured, i.e., 125 GeV. Hence the label, “what we measure.” The term just right of that (the “free parameter”) is the mass of the Higgs boson associated with the first term in the SM Lagrangian (Fig. 2 and 3). When physicists talk about the Standard Model not predicting the mass of the Higgs boson, it is this term (the free parameter) that we talk about. The SM makes no mention as to what it should be. We have to get down, dirty, and actually conduct an experiment get the thing. The term on the far right can be ignored. The term “Λ” (the “cutoff scale“), on the other hand, terrifies and mystifies particle physicists.

Λ is called the “cutoff scale” of the SM. Physically, it represents the energy at which the SM stops working. I mean it: we stop calculating things when we get to energies equal to Λ. Experimentally, Λ is at least a few hundred times the mass of the proton. If Λ is very LARGE, like several times larger than the LHC’s energy range, then the observed Higgs mass gets an equally LARGE bump. For example, if the SM were 100% correct for all energies, then Λ would be infinity. If this were true, then

(the Higgs boson’s mass) = (something not infinity) + (something infinity) ,

which comes out inevitably to be infinity. In other words, if the Standard Model of Physics were 100% correct, then the Higgs boson’s mass is predicted to be infinity. The Higgs boson is not infinity, obviously, and therefore the Standard Model is not 100%. Therefore, the existence of the Higgs boson is proof that there must be new physics somewhere. “Where and at what energy?,” is a whole different question and rightfully deserves its own post.


Happy Colliding

– Richard (@bravelittlemuon)


What Comes Next?

Tuesday, July 3rd, 2012

Suppose for a moment the LHC experiments announce the discovery of a new object Wednesday. What comes next?

Figure 1: The list of all known elementary particles in Standard Model. The existence of the Higgs boson has yet to be confirmed. Credit: AAAS

Hi All,

In fewer than 20 hours, on Wednesday, July 4th, now dubbed Higgsdependence Day, something very important will happen. In a physics laboratory just outside of Geneva, Switzerland, in a pretty spacious auditorium, the spokespeople for two rival experiments will unveil their independent searches for a microscopic object predicted to exist almost over 40 years ago. Not impressed?

Well, I will put it another way. In fewer than 20 hours, the world will learn just how a near hundred-billion dollar industry, the same industry that invented both the World Wide Web and new cancer treatments, will spend the next 10 to 20 years after finally learning if the Higgs boson really is responsible for the origin of mass in the visible Universe!

Figure 2: Diagram depicting the process known as WW Scattering, where two quarks from two protons each radiate a W boson that then elastically interact with one another. Credit: Me.

The who, what, where, why, whom, regarding the Higgs boson has been covered quite extensively and so I will not dwell on it. What I am talking about today is the BIG question on every physicist’s mind.  At this point, us physicists have stopped asking whether or not the LHC experiments will announce the definitive discovery of a new particle. We are now more focused on answering,

What do we need to do after Wednesday?

Quite frankly, there just has to be at least one new particle lurking in the data. It does not have to be THE Higgs boson as predicted by the Standard Model by any means. So long as this object fulfills the role of the Higgs boson, physics works. How am I so sure of this? Well, taking the Higgs Boson out of the Standard Model causes a rather ludicrous prediction:

The probability of WW scattering (Fig. 2) at the LHC becomes infinity.

That result, my dear friends, I promise you is total rubbish. This is the famous “Unitarity Problem” and is heroically solved by assuming that the Higgs boson is a real particle and has a mass less than 1400 times the mass of the proton.

Figure 3: The combined limits on the expected number of SM Higgs bosons decaying into bottom quark-anti-bottom quark pairs from the Tevatron experiments (CDF+DZero) July 2012, using almost 10 fb-1 of data. Data indicates a excess of events compared to the no-Higgs hypothesis, and thus consistent with the existence of a higgs-like object. Credit: FNAL.

Furthermore, if the LHC experiments confirm the existence of a Higgless Standard Model, then we have to explain why, as of Monday, the Tevatron has seen: an excess in the number of bottom-anti-bottom quark pairs (Fig. 3) and 2-photons events, but a deficit of the number of expected W+W- pairs.

Announcing the discovery of a higgs-like object on Wednesday will literally dictate the (non-neutrino) high energy physics programme until well-after the end of the decade. This will take a lot of data, and hence time & effort, to accurately tabulate all the quantum numbers of a new particle.

For starters, we need to immediately confirm what we have is a particle without any intrinsic angular momentum! In physics talk, this is called “spin.” One way to determine the spin of a particle capable of decaying into into a bottom-anti-bottom quark pair is to look at the angle between the two quarks as the object decays. This angle has a very unique shape if the new particle has no intrinsic angular momentum (spin-0), a single unit of angular momentum (spin-1), two units of angular momentum (spin-2), and so on. They should look something like the three plots below (L is spin-0; C is spin-1; R is spin-2). For more information, see the original QD post. The point I am trying to make is that it is very straightforward to confirm the “spin” of any new Higgs-like particle.

Figure 4 (a): The angular distribution of a spin-0 object decaying to a bottom and anti-bottom quark pair. Credit: Me.
Figure 4 (b): The angular distribution of a spin-1 object decaying to a bottom and anti-bottom quark pair. Credit: Me.
Figure 4 (c): The angular distribution of a spin-2 object decaying to a bottom and anti-bottom quark pair. Credit: Me.









Another quintessential piece of information: determining into what particles this new particle can decay. If this mystery object is our beloved Standard Model Higgs boson, then the probability it will decay into quarks and leptons is proportional to how heavy individual quarks and leptons are. Therefore, the rate at which this potential Higgs-like object decays into lighter particles must be carefully measured to confirm that it decays into bottoms quarks (mass = 4 GeV) more often than it does to muons (mass = 0.1 GeV). New theories, like Supersymmetry (SUSY), can alter such rates slightly. Consequentially, precisely measuring the decay rates of any Higgs-like object is automatically a test SUSY.

Figure 5: In SUSY, the correction to Higgs mass by the top quark (L) is inherently cancelled by the contribution from the top quark's supersymmetric partner, the stop (R). Credit: Chuan-Ren Chen.

Science is all about explaining how nature works by carefully and methodically testing hypotheses. The Higgs boson may be the final piece of the Standard Model puzzle but our work hardly stops on Wednesday. If we have truly found the Higgs boson at roughly 125 times the mass of the proton, then there is a very troublesome issue:

The Higgs boson mass is too heavy!

Recovering a 125 GeV Higgs boson requires a few contrived cancellations that are pretty unsatisfactory. It is significantly more rigorous if terms cancel based on physical principles. Remember, since this is real life and not a chalkboard, there are hardline, concrete principles for the way nature works the way it does. To suggest otherwise is silly. Oddly enough, such cancellations do occur inherently  in Supersymmetry (Fig. 5). Understanding the precise value of the Higgs mass is another item on our ever-growing Higgs Boson Properties checklist.

At the end of the day, discovering a Higgs boson means, experimentally and theoretically, pushing the bounds of our knowledge of the Universe that much further. Yes, it is likely that after tomorrow many physics textbooks will be outdated. This is a very good thing. However, confirming ALL the spin, decay, mass, mixing, etc. properties of this new particle, if there is indeed a new particle, will require many years, and you can count on hearing all about it from us!


Happy Colliding

– richard (@bravelittlemuon)



Neutrino 2012: Day 5 Part 1: The Return of the FTL Neutrino

Friday, June 8th, 2012

What has no thumbs and travels at the speed of light, to within experimental uncertainty?

Hi All,

I will just say this right away, the Borexino, ICARUS, LVD, OPERA, and MINOS Experiments have all independently found, within experimental uncertainty, that neutrinos travel at the speed of light. To enlighten, last September the OPERA Experiment at the Gran Sasso Laboratory, in Gran Sasso, Italy, observed what appeared to indicate that neutrinos travel faster than the speed of light. (More information available from veteran QDers Aiden and Seth).

The reported quantity is time it took neutrinos to travel from CERN to Gran Sasso minus the time it would have taken light. I should also mention that the statistical (stat.) and systematic (sys.) uncertainties are incredibly important.

δt = (Time it took neutrinos to reach GS from CERN) – (Distance between GS and CERN)/(Speed of Light)

Figure 1: Results from four Gran Sasso Laboratory experiments indicating neutrinos travel at the speed of light, to within exerpeimental uncertainty. Reported quantity is time it took neutrinos to travel from CERN to Gran Sasso minus the time it would have taken light. Credit: BERTOLUCCI, Sergio

Figure 2: Results from the MINOS Experiment indicating neutrinos travel at the speed of light, to within exerpeimental uncertainty. Reported quantity is time it took neutrinos to travel from Fermilab to MINOS minus the time it would have taken light. Credit: ADAMSON, Phil

To clarify the situation, this result was not a typical “Hey! We discovered new physics!” result. Had OPERA correctly observed a massive particle traveling faster than light, then we would truly be in the midst of a physic revolution. That is not a hyperbole either. As a result, everyone, theorists and experimentalists alike, put on their scientists hats and scrutinized the result to no end. Much drama ensued and at long last the problem has been resolved. The issue at hand were actually two very subtle effects that worked against each other. The first was that a 5.2 mi (8.3 km) cable was accidentally stretched back in 2008 and systematically introduced a 74 nanosecond delay in the system that recorded the time the neutrinos arrived at the detector. The second issue involved the highly precise master clock system for the entire experiment; it was slow by about 15 nanoseconds. 74 – 15 = 59 nanoseconds was exactly how much sooner the neutrinos were arriving than they were expected.


Figure 3: Two previously unaccounted issues regarding the OPERA Experiment. Credit: DRACOS, Marcos

In conclusion, neutrinos may still travel faster than the speed of light. It is unlikely, but still possible. Officially as of today, though, we know that all measurements of neutrinos’ speed show are consistent with the speed of light.