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.