Carleton faculty members and students played a key role in the project behind the recently announced Nobel Prize in Physics. The prize was awarded jointly to François Englert and Peter W. Higgs “for the theoretical discovery of a mechanism that contributes to our understanding of the origin of mass of subatomic particles, and which recently was confirmed through the discovery of the predicted fundamental particle, by the ATLAS and CMS experiments at CERN’s Large Hadron Collider.”

The 15-member ATLAS group at Carleton includes faculty, research assistants and students. The group’s original involvement included contributing to the construction of detector components that were shipped to CERN six years ago. This work was carried out in part by Carleton’s Gerald Oakham. These were installed in ATLAS and are now producing data along with the other detectors. Carleton team members have also provided crucial contributions to the Higgs analyses, including faculty members Thomas Koffas, as well as research associates Fabien Tarrade and Jean-Francois Marchand, and grad students Graham Cree, David DiValentino and Jim Lacey. In addition, faculty member Manuella Vincter and graduate student Kate Whalen worked on new event reconstruction techniques that were an important ingredient of this analysis.

The Higgs boson was the only piece missing in an otherwise extremely successful and well-tested theoretical model describing all the fundamental processes of nature called the Standard Model. The particle is believed to be responsible for giving mass to all the particles in the universe. Its discovery was one of the main goals behind the construction of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN.

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