6386 Exploring the New Frontier: First Physics from the Large Hadron Collider

Friday, February 17, 2012: 1:00 PM
Room 220 (VCC West Building)
Sergio Bertolucci , CERN, Geneva, Switzerland
On March 30, 2010, the Large Hadron Collider at CERN in Geneva, Switzerland, embarked on its 20-year mission to seek out new physics and investigate some of the deepest-held mysteries of our universe. Since then, the machine's performance, along with that of the experiments that observe the LHC's proton-proton and lead-lead collisions has exceeded all expectations, leading to a rich harvest of new results. After two years of running, this talk will take stock of where the LHC research program is, and what can be expected when the LHC starts its third year of running in 2012. It will cover the status the Standard Model of particle physics, the remarkably successful theory pieced together over several decades, that describes the behavior of nature's fundamental particles and forces.  The Standard Model has been put to the test at laboratories around the world since the 1970s, with no experiment before the LHC showing any significant disagreement with the theory. Nevertheless, the Standard Model cannot be a complete theory: it has several shortcomings. For example, it describes only the particles and forces that make up what we think of as ordinary, visible, matter. It does not explain the approximately 95 percent of the universe that has so-far remained invisible. The LHC experiments are in a position to go beyond the Standard Model, either by finding direct evidence for new physics, or by excluding the last remaining piece of the Standard Model jigsaw: the Higgs boson. The Higgs was proposed in the 1960s as part of a mechanism that endows particles with mass. If it exists, the LHC will find it. If it does not, its absence will point the way to new physics.