Higgs hunters look beyond the Standard Model

Published in Physics World, 6 May 2013

After discovering the Higgs boson last year, researchers at the Large Hadron Collider are now trawling through the data as the collider undergoes an 18-month shutdown for repairs and upgrades. The goal is to discover hints of physics beyond the Standard Model of particle physics – but tantalizing glimpses of new physics have been harder to spot than many physicists had expected.

Three years, eight-quadrillion particle collisions and the discovery of the most infamous particle of them all: the Higgs boson. With such achievements under their belt, you might think that physicists working on the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN, near Geneva, would be taking a well-earned break. But the current shutdown – a two-year period of repairs and upgrades that began in February – is affording them no holiday. “This is actually the most intense period we’ve ever had,” says Joseph Incandela, spokesperson for the LHC’s CMS experiment. “The schedule is so tight there’s almost no contingency to prepare for the next run. It’s a bit insane.” […]

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