July 4th will never be the same. As a child growing up in the United States, it meant flags, humidity, Sousa marches, democracy, and fireworks. Now it means something else: Switzerland, laboratories, technical wizardry, Higgs particles and — fireworks!
Yes, this picture is a representation of the data taken by the ATLAS experiment during a 2012 proton-proton collision at the Large Hadron Collider [LHC], in which (probably) a Higgs particle was created and swiftly decayed to (i.e. was transformed into) a muon, an antimuon, an electron and an anti-electron [“positron”]. Also flying about are many proton-like particles, called hadrons, the debris always seen in a proton-proton collision. Boom! (Admittedly a very quiet boom!)
2012 was a remarkable year that we’ll never forget, and its July 4th, when the Higgs particle’s discovery was announced, was unique. [And if you’re still confused about what the excitement is all about, or want to learn more, click here for some of my writing and speaking about it all.]
But as we wait for the LHC to start running again in 2015, analysis of the 2011-2012 data continues. People are working very hard, even on July 4th :-), and the possibility of other discoveries in that data is real! So stay tuned as more results emerge over the summer and fall and into 2014.