The Standard Model Higgs folks got to have all of their fun back in 2011. They were a high priority for both the ATLAS and CMS experiments, and so it was natural and appropriate that a lot of attention and resources were directed their way. Now that these analyses have, for the most part, said all that can be said using the 2011 data sample, attention has turned to the many other analyses ongoing within the two experiments. In ATLAS, a lot of the Higgs focus has shifted to the searches for non-Standard Model Higgs bosons, such as the Supersymmetric Higgses.
I’ve commented on my own interests in a post in my own professional blog . If the Higgs mechanism is the means by which nature gives mass to matter and force carrier particles (such as the electron or the Z boson), then there are not enough Higgses predicted by the Standard Model in order to accommodate the fact that particles like Dark Matter would also have to have been given mass. Dark Matter, should it turn out to be a class of one or more subatomic particles, is also not accommodated by the Standard Model. An extension of the Standard Model, representing a more encompassing theory of nature, would be needed to explain Dark Matter; in extending the theory to contain more particles, more Higgs bosons would be necessary in order to give mass to the particles.
Theories like Supersymmetry do this, though to date there has been no direct or indirect evidence for the existence of Supersymmetry in nature. The LHC is actively engaged in searches for evidence, both in the form of new particles and new forces. However, any extension of the Standard Model will require the addition of more physical Higgs states, and in even modest extensions two of these new Higgs bosons carry electric charge. They are like subatomic chimera, an odd marriage of electric charge and the Higgs mechanism.
At SMU, we are highly actively engaged in the search for an electrically charged Higgs boson, which I will simply henceforth denote “H+”. This week, I traveled to CERN to participate in an informal workshop. Members of Higgs Subgroup 6 (“Charged Higgs”) have gathered in a room here at CERN to work together, solve common problems, compare results, and soon combine our results on multiple independent searches for this particle. We come from all over the map, ranging from continental Europe, to the United Kingdom, the United States, and Israel. There are many more countries represented just in our effort, and I risk forgetting somebody, so I’ll leave it there! What we do now at this workshop is just the tip of a much larger iceberg; this week has helped close out a part of our current efforts while raising new challenges and launching ideas for future searches.
What I have learned over the past few months is how well we work together when we work together. One of the members of the ATLAS leadership dropped by the workshop earlier in the week and commented on how excellent it was that we made two efforts in the last 5 weeks to come together at CERN and push our efforts forward in a collaborative and concerted way. That doesn’t mean we can just call it a day and feel good about our effort; success is IMPERATIVE, and so we accept the compliment all the while remaining focused on the fact that there is always much to do and less time to do it. But the fact that we work together, in a true spirit of both collegiality and healthy competition amongst the independent searches, makes this effort one of the most positive I’ve worked on.