'Now the hard work on Higgs boson begins'

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 08 July, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 08 July, 2012, 12:00am


Joyous celebration of the discovery of a new particle that looks like being the Higgs boson has been short-lived. Intense study of the properties of this elusive particle has already begun, according to two students from Chinese University working at CERN.

'I didn't see people popping champagnes at CERN but I do know some of them had celebration parties after work,' said Michael Tam Chun-nam, 21, a physics undergraduate sent to the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) in Geneva for summer research.

'The atmosphere here is back to usual now since everyone knows that the discovery of new particle is just a starting point, and research is still going on,' said Tam, who is part of a team analysing and looking for improvements in the tracking system of CMS, one of the two teams that announced the Higgs discovery.

Fellow physics undergraduate Frankie Li Tsun-Yin, 21 said the atmosphere at Cern was back to 'normal' and that 'everyone is still working very busily'.

He said: 'I don't know [if] there is any celebration. There may be for some professors.'

The discovery of Higgs would affect many ongoing experiments in a deep, but indirect way, said Chinese University physics professor Chu Ming-chung.

'One of the most important questions now for particle physicists is whether the Higgs particle discovered is consistent with the Higgs particle in the Standard Model,' he said. 'How different they are will have great implications. They may point to new physics not previously built into the Standard Model.

'So the discovery will shape the direction of much research work in particle physics.'

One of the major projects the discovery of Higgs will have an impact on is the Daya Bay Reactor Neutrino Experiment, which studies the properties of the 'oddball' in the standard model of particle physics.

'Many physicists, including myself, believe that the neutrino sector is a promising window to lead us to physics beyond the Standard Model,' he said.

'If the Higgs particle turns out to be rather different from the Standard Model Higgs, then we have more paths to new physics.

'But if it is more or less the same as the Standard Model Higgs, then neutrinos will be more important as our only tool to study physics beyond the Standard Model.

'Either way, breakthroughs are right around the corner, and we are hopeful that new and deeper understanding of nature will emerge.'