Fitting another piece of the Higgs puzzle

The search for the Higgs boson is like a jigsaw puzzle. Just as no single piece reveals the whole picture, no single analysis will find the Higgs boson. Without all pieces, the picture is incomplete.

In the 1960s, a bevy of physicists pieced together our current understanding of the electromagnetic and weak forces. The first task was to show how those forces were two facets of an underlying single force, called the electroweak force. The second task they accomplished showed how the two forces could look so different to us, given their common origin. Physicists call this second task electroweak symmetry breaking, which is just a fancy term for showing why the weak and electromagnetic forces are different.

Many people contributed to the most popular theory of electroweak symmetry breaking, called the Higgs field. It is important to remember that, no matter how popular the idea has become, it is still just a theory until it is confirmed by experiment. At its core, physicists believe that the Higgs field is an energy field that permeates the cosmos, interacting with particles and giving them their mass. We think that the dizzying range of masses seen in fundamental subatomic particles stems from the degree to which they interact directly with the Higgs field: the heavy top quark interacts a lot, while the massless photon doesn’t interact at all. If the Higgs hypothesis is correct, than it predicts a particle called the Higgs boson.

Finding the Higgs boson is extremely difficult and no single analysis or Tevatron experiment will provide the smoking gun. Ultimately, physicists must combine dozens of analyses, each searching for a different decay chain to have a shot at the prize: observation of the Higgs boson.

Today’s result comes from a search for a Higgs boson decaying into two W bosons. One of the W bosons decayed into a charged lepton (electron or muon) and its associated neutrino, while the other W boson decayed into a pair of quarks. This is the first paper on this difficult signature. Like all analyses, this study could not find the Higgs boson by itself, but it added another piece to the puzzle. Slowly, but surely, the pieces lock into place.

-Don Lincoln

These researchers performed this difficult analysis.
The most interesting collisions are often very rare. In order to select collisions that have the potential to include interesting physical phenomena, DZero uses three levels of custom electronic systems. These physicists are responsible for the final system, which can make the most complex decisions.