Sawyer to participate in 10th anniversary of Higgs boson discovery celebration at CERN

Jun 29, 2022 | Engineering and Science, Faculty/Staff, Research

Dr. Lee Sawyer, Director of Louisiana Tech’s Chemistry and Physics programs and Professor of Physics, will celebrate the 10th anniversary of the discovery of the Higgs boson particle at the CERN (European Organization for Nuclear Research) Large Hadron Collider (LHC) on June 30. The celebration, coordinated by the United States LHC Users Association (USLUA), will feature distinguished guests and virtual tours.

As part of the celebration, Sawyer will lead a 10-minute virtual tour of the ATLAS experiment control room at CERN’s LHC. The virtual tour, scheduled for 1:20 to 1:30 p.m. CST, will be available to the public via Zoom and streamed in the Integrated Engineering and Science Building Atrium on Tech’s campus.

Louisiana Tech faculty, post-doctoral researchers, and students were among the international cadre of physicists who proved the existence of the Higgs boson, sometimes called the “God particle,” nearly 10 years ago. The particle, produced within the Higgs field, gives mass to building block particles – like electrons and quarks – found throughout the universe. The result of more than 30 years of construction and planning and tens of thousands of research hours, proof of the Higgs boson is one of the most important discoveries in physics and the most important discovery in particle physics this century.

The 2012 Louisiana Tech team included Physics Professors Sawyer, Dr. Markus Wobisch, and Dr. Z.D. Greenwood (now retired), postdoctoral researchers Dr. Matthew Tamsett and Dr. Catrin Bernius, graduate students Ram Dhullipudi, Arirvan Sircar, Rajiv Subramaniam, Alex Johnson, Khadeejah Alghadeer, and David Palma, and undergraduate student Andrew Touchet.

Researchers at the LHC’s ATLAS and CMS (Compact Muon Solenoid) experiments created Higgs bosons by colliding protons at the highest energies achieved in an accelerator until they discovered the range for the Higgs boson to appear.

“As a data collector, I was at CERN weeks before the announcement,” Sawyer said of the work that led to the discovery. “As one of the teams in charge of the quality of our data, we were urged to approve as much data as possible for our scientists to analyze. That’s a good example of how these large experiments work – the people who run the detectors and certify the data play as important a role as the ones who make the final plots.”

“The discovery of the Higgs boson particle is one of the most important discoveries of our time, and I’m proud that Louisiana Tech and the College of Engineering and Science played a role in its detection,” COES Dean Dr. Hisham Hegab said. “The research that proved the existence of the Higgs boson changed our understanding of the universe, and the research that Dr. Sawyer and Dr. Wobisch are currently working on with CERN and the ATLAS experiment will further impact particle physics and how science defines matter. I’m excited that our faculty are at the forefront of such monumental work and that they provide Louisiana Tech Physics students with opportunities to engage in such game-changing research.”

July 4, CERN will hold additional talks on the anniversary of the discovery.