On big discovery day,it’s a ‘godly’ feeling for TIFR team

In 2008,Saranya Ghosh (23) wrote an article in his college magazine on the Large Hadron Collider (LHC),touted as the world’s biggest experiment,which has now confirmed the existence of a particle in consistent with long-sought Higgs boson — the basic building block of the universe.

Written by Mihika Basu | Published: July 5, 2012 12:03:52 am

In 2008,Saranya Ghosh (23) wrote an article in his college magazine on the Large Hadron Collider (LHC),touted as the world’s biggest experiment,which has now confirmed the existence of a particle in consistent with long-sought Higgs boson — the basic building block of the universe. The Tata Institute Fundamental Research (TIFR) student had “no idea” back then that he will be a part of a major scientific breakthrough over three years later.

“We are ecstatic and it’s a proud moment for us all. The Higgs boson is one of the most important particle and its discovery is a major achievement for us. I first wrote about the LHC experiment for our college magazine. I had no idea then that I will be part of this historic moment,” said Ghosh,who returned from the European Centre for Nuclear Research (CERN) on June 16,where LHC has been built.

“I returned from CERN two days ago and it feels good to share the excitement with our faculty and fellow students. My family knows I go to CERN and that I am part of some big experiment. When the news broke out today,my father asked ‘is this what you do?’ They are very excited,” said Rajdeep M Chatterjee (24),also a TIFR PhD student.

Ghosh and Chatterjee are not alone in their enthusiasm. Room number 66 at TIFR,where the CERN announcement was webcast live,broke into a thunderous applause on Wednesday afternoon. The LHC is a global effort and TIFR leads the CMS (Compact Muon Solenoid) experiment. Both the CMS and ATLAS experiments have observed a new particle in the mass region around 125-126 GeV,consistent with the Higgs boson.

ATLAS and CMS gave the level of significance of the result as five sigma on the scale that particle physicists use to describe the certainty of a discovery. While one sigma means the results could be random fluctuations in the data,a five-sigma result is a discovery.

“Higgs explains the mass of every particle and the discovery we’ve made is a giant step. Results today showed that Higgs like object has been discovered and the Standard Model is in place. We have reached a milestone in our understanding of the universe and it’s hard not to get excited or feel emotional about it. We saw Peter Higgs (one of the proposers of the theory in 1964) getting teary-eyed when the announcement was made and I could almost feel what he must be feeling today,” said Naba Mondal,senior professor at TIFR.

Sudeshna Banerjee,one of the principal investigators and scientist at TIFR’s department of high energy physics,called it a “proud moment” for faculty and students. “We were hopeful that it will be found and last year,experiments had hinted towards the possibility of Higgs particle in the universe. Half a century after it was first proposed and after a monumental effort by generations of physicists around the world,the discovery of the Higgs particle represents a historic achievement for us. Currently,we have 10 faculty members,16 students and 10 support staff from TIFR working on CMS,” she said.

What is further significant is that while CMS started off with the involvement of two students,different aspects of the Higgs analysis were gradually incorporated in the research work in a big way. Each year,students spend three-six months at CERN,working closely with top scientists from across the world.

“Some of my friends currently at CERN said the atmosphere is very charged. Though we knew internally about the discovery of this particle a month ago,we were waiting for the day when it would be announced to the world. For students like us,it is of great significance that we have contributed towards this great moment. Even for the general public,components of these detectors (like CMS and ATLAS) will eventually find their way in various avenues like medicine or computing,” said Ghosh.

“Our intuition is that it is Higgs particle. But with more data now,we have to further analyse and establish experimentally that it is indeed the Higgs of the Standard Model. Much more needs to be found,which is called the Beyond the Standard Model (BSM). The discovery of Higgs-like object makes a more strong claim for the existence of BSM,which we expect to discover at the LHC,” said Monoranjan Guchait,TIFR professor.

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