Baylor Physicists Announce Research Results at Europe's Premiere Particle Physics Conference

July 25, 2011

Baylor physicists join other scientists in search for Higgs Boson; Results close in on Higgs mass range

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Baylor University physics researchers joined scientists from around the world July 25 to announce results relating to the search for the elusive Higgs Boson particle at the International Europhysics Conference on High Energy Physics, or EPS, in Grenoble, France.

In 2005, Baylor joined one of the world's largest experimental physics collaborations - the Collider Detector at Fermilab (CDF) collaboration - at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory near Chicago in Batavia, Ill. The CDF collaboration consists of nearly 60 universities and labs from around the world that work together at the federally funded laboratory to advance understanding of the nature of matter and energy. One of the experiments that Baylor researchers are working on is to find the Higgs, a particle predicted to exist that could explain how the universe came to be, how it functions and the origin of mass.

Physicists have detected the Higgs indirectly because they expect it to decay into other particles in a fraction of a second. For this result, scientists considered where the Higgs decays into two photons, the particle version of light. A major challenge of this search is the low probability of this occurring, with physicists expecting only about two out of every 1,000 Higgs particles produced to decay to photons.

At the EPS conference, Dr. Jay Dittmann, associate professor of physics at Baylor, and his Baylor research team presented results related to two main areas in the search for the Higgs Boson: a search for the standard-model Higgs particle when it decays into either photons or tau particles and a search for a Higgs particle described by a different, non- Standard Model theory that predicts a Higgs particle decaying to photons at a higher probability than the Standard Model theory. In fact, in this other theory, the most likely "mode" of decay is into photons rather than into b-quarks, the researchers said.

"If a Higgs Boson of this type exists, then it would have a mass above this value with a 95 percent confidence level," said Karen Bland, a Baylor doctoral student who is working on the proejct. "This is currently the world's best limit on this type of Higgs particle."

According to Fermilab scientists, they are close to reaching the critical sensitivity that is necessary to look for the existence of a light Higgs particle. The Higgs particle, if it exists, most likely has a mass between 114-137 GeV/c2, about 100 times the mass of a proton. This predicted mass range is based on stringent constraints established by earlier measurements, including the highest precision measurements of the top quark and W boson masses, made by Tevatron experiments. Fermilab's Tevatron experiments will continue in 2012 to rule out this Higgs mass range.

About Baylor University

Baylor University is a private Christian university and a nationally ranked research institution, classified as such with "high research activity" by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. The university provides a vibrant campus community for approximately 15,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest, continually operating university in Texas. Located in Waco, Texas, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 80 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 11 nationally recognized academic divisions.

Media contact: Frank Raczkiewicz, Assistant Vice President of Media Communications, 254-710-1964.

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