This eight-part series maps the frontiers of contemporary particle physics. It begins with an introduction to the world’s most powerful particle accelerator, the seventeen-mile-long Large Hadron Collider (LHC), where scores of new data were collected last year after a three-year hiatus following the discovery of the Higgs boson in 2012. Among the recent findings are signs that may point to “new physics”—phenomena that cannot be explained by the Standard Model, our most fundamental theory of matter. Chronicling the work of thousands of scientists over the last four decades, theoretical physicist Matthew Buckley tells a story of dazzling achievement and collaboration—across disciplines as well as borders—and hints at what new wonders may lie in store in our quest to understand the deepest workings of the universe. Follow along as we watch science unfold in real time.
- “The Search for New Physics at CERN”
An introduction to the LHC and some intriguing data from its second run, announced in December 2015.
- “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Quantum Field Theory”
A gentle overview of the mathematical language of particle physics, which is used throughout the rest of the series.
- “How Stuff Works”
A tour through the Standard Model, up to the Higgs mechanism.
- “Minding Matter”
The theory of the Higgs mechanism, and how it explains the quantum puzzle of mass.
- “When (Quantum) Worlds Collide”
A close look at the design and function of a particular LHC detector, and the debt theorists owe to engineers and experimentalists.
- “Closing in on the Higgs”
The high standard of evidence in particle physics, and the history of false alarms leading up to the final discovery of the Higgs boson.
- “What Lies Deep”
What else might be found at the LHC: additional Higgses, supersymmetry, and dark matter.
- “The End of the Beginning”
The long-awaited resolution of a tantalizing hint of new physics discovered last December at the LHC.