Sarah Charley

Sarah Charley is senior writer in the Fermilab Office of Communication.

Only a fraction of collision events that look like they produce a Higgs boson actually produce a Higgs boson. Luckily, it doesn’t matter.

What if you want to capture an image of a process so fast that it looks blurry if the shutter is open for even a billionth of a second? This is the type of challenge scientists on experiments like CMS and ATLAS face as they study particle collisions at CERN’s Large Hadron Collider. An extremely fast new detector inside the CMS detector will allow physicists to get a sharper image of particle collisions.

Those who study particle physics will find that every step of the journey offers a new perspective and new set of responsibilities. Symmetry chats with scientists working at the Large Hadron Collider to hear about differences between seven different rungs on the academic career ladder.

It started with a cough that wouldn’t go away. After years of medical treatment and a successful heart transplant, physicist Avi Yagil partnered with the doctors who gave him a new heart to bring techniques from particle physics into the evaluation of heart-failure patients.

A series of joint NASA and ESA spacewalks four years in the making aims to extend the life of the AMS particle detector. On Nov. 15, astronauts took on a series of tasks ranging in difficulty from zip-tie-cutting to safely launching a piece of equipment into space, all while orbiting the planet at around 5 miles per second. The goal was to fix a component of the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer, an international particle physics experiment, and to extend its study of cosmic rays, dark matter and antimatter for another decade.

Maria Teresa Dova has been instrumental in bringing scientists in Argentina new opportunities to participate in particle physics and astrophysics experiments, including one that co-discovered the Higgs boson.

Researchers at CERN are investigating how very high-energy electrons could help target tumors. The possibility of using high-energy electrons for cancer treatment combined with new experimental dose-delivery techniques poises the medical field for a revolution in cancer treatment.

Working on hardware doesn’t come easily to all physicists, but Francesca Ricci-Tam has learned that what matters most is a willingness to put in the practice.

Our world is governed by general relativity, which sees gravity as the effects of massive objects warping space-time. The world of particle physics, on the other hand, envisions all forces as mediated by force-carrying particles — and ignores gravity entirely. This year’s Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics was awarded to three theorists who proposed a way to marry these contradictory descriptions: with a theory called “supergravity.”