Advances in Historical Studies
2013. Vol.2, No.1, 3-5
Published Online March 2013 in SciRes (
Copyright © 2013 SciRes. 3
On the New Boson Higgs’s Studies at the CERN-ATLAS
Experiment. The Emergency of a Historical Discovery*
Raffaele Pisano1,2
1Sciences, Sociétés, Cultures dans leurs Evolutions, University of Lille 1, Lille, France
2Research Center for Theory and History of Science, University of West Bohemia, Plzen, Czech Republic
Received December 23rd, 2012; revised January 25th, 2013; accepted February 5th, 2013
This paper is a summary of the interview-workshop to Aleandro Nisati (12 December 2012, SEMM-
Service Enseignement et Multimédia) co-organized by UFR Physique, University of Lille 1, France
(Raffaele Pisano, Remi Franckowiak, Bernard Maitte and Lisa Rougetet), ATLAS Experiment Team
(CERN, Genève, Switzerland), in persons of the cited Italian scientist—already Physics coordinator at
ATLAS—and his colleague, Steven Goldfarb (CERN-University of Michigan, USA). The latter kindly
answered to the questions on the ATLAS detector, LHC machine and CERN-ATLAS laboratories pro-
posed by the participants. Distinguished lectures by historians of science at University of Lille 1 (Bernard
Maitte, Bernard Pourprix and Robert Locqueneux) specialist on history of physics opened the workshop
Keywords: History of Physics; Science and Society; Standard Model Higgs Boson
A Short Introduction on the Discovery
On July, 4th 2012, the ATLAS experiment presented a pre-
view of its updated results on the search for the Higgs Boson.
(Figure 1). The results were shown at a seminar held jointly at
CERN and via video link at ICHEP, the International Confer-
ence for High Energy Physics in Melbourne, Australia (Atlas
Collaboration, 2012; CMS Collaboration, 2012). At CERN,
preliminary results were presented to scientists on site and via
webcast to colleagues located in hundreds of institutions around
the world. Aleandro Nisati was ATLAS Physics coordinator.
The Higgs boson is the only missing elementary particle of
the Standard Model (SM) of particles and fields. In the SM, the
non-zero vacuum expectation value of the Higgs field breaks
the electroweak gauge symmetry. It is the simplest process
capable of giving mass to the gauge bosons and elementary
fermions. Its quantum would be a scalar boson, the only one in
this theory. A brief overview of the searches for this particle
with the A Toroidal LHC ApparatuS (ATLAS) detector at the
Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is given. In particular, the latest
results of the search for this particle at the LHC are summarized
and discussed, focusing on the recent observation of a new
boson by the experiments ATLAS and Compact Muon Solenoid
(CMS, the main experiments) at the LHC, with a mass around
126 GeV. Preliminary available data show that this particle is
consistent with the boson predicted by the SM. More data are
needed to perform precision measurements of the physics prop-
erties of this new boson, and verify whether this is the Higgs
boson predicted by Standard Model.
Interview to Aleandro Nisati
The latest results concerning the discovery of a new boson
(m ~126 GeV) were experimented by A Toroidal LHC Appa-
Figure 1.
Higgs decay to four electrons recorded by ATLAS in 2012 (Bottom).
Higgs decay to four muons recorded by ATLAS in 2012. Images credit:
URL (last checked 14 January 2013).
latest-results-from-higgs-search.html. Nisati Workshop Brochure or-
ganized at University of Lille 1, France.
ratuS (ATLAS) and Compact Muon Solenoid (CMS) at the
Large Hadron Collider (LHC) and recently exposed at SISFA
2012 Congress where I interviewed Aleandro Nisati (I.N.F.N.
Sezione di Roma-CERN, Italy/Switzerland), ATLAS Physics co-
t review.
ordinator who had a major role in the discovery and key-note at
the Congress. This new particle is effetely consistent, within the
current available experimental accuracy, with the Standard
Model Higgs boson (SMHB).
But, what is the importance of the Higgs boson?
Nisati: the Higgs boson is the only missing elementary parti-
cle of the Standard Model (SM) of particles and fields. Here the
non-zero vacuum expectation value of the Higgs field breaks
the electroweak gauge symmetry. It is the simplest process
capable of giving mass to the gauge bosons and fermions.
What about preliminary available experimental data?
Nisati: the quantum associated to this field is a spin-0 parti-
cle, the Higgs boson. An indirect constraint on the Higgs boson
mass of mH < 185 GeV at 95% confidence level (CL) has been
set using global fits to electroweak precision data. Direct
searches (up to 2011) excluded at 95% CL a SMHB with mass
mH < 114.4 GeV and 147 < mH < 179 respectively. The search
for this particle was pursued at the LCH looking in particular to
high mass resolution channels: the diphoton and the 4-lepton
final states. The data sample used in the analysis was based on
about 5 fb1 of proton-proton collisions data taken at s = 7
TeV (2011) and 5.5 fb1 taken at s = 8 TeV data (early
2012). In the diphoton final state, both ATLAS and CMS ob-
served an excess of events around the γγ invariant mass of 125 -
126 GeV, on top of a smooth background produced mainly by
SM γγ process. Jet-jet and γ-jet processes, a potentially dan-
gerous background with jets misidentified as photons, are sup-
pressed thanks the robust photon identification and reconstruc-
tion provided by the high-performance electromagnetic calo-
rimeters of these two experiments. An excess of events is ob-
served also in the HZZ*4-lepton channel (where for lep-
tons only electrons and muons are considered). In this case, the
dominant background is represented by the SM diboson pro-
duction ZZ*4-leptons (irreducible background) and by Z +
jets processes, where jets can be mis-reconstructed as electrons
or muons. Also in this case, the robust electron and muon iden-
tification in both experiments allows a strong reduction of Z +
jets events below the irreducible background. Finally, this ex-
cess is observed also in the low mass resolution channel
HWW*lνlν, in a mass interval fully consistent with the
125 - 126 GeV mass, where the excess is observed in γγ and
4-leptons. The statistical combination of these results for AT-
LAS, and independently for CMS, leads to the observation of
an excess of events at around 125 GeV mass with at least
5-sigma significance (corresponding to a probability ~4 × 107)
per experiment.
Are these results well-matched with historical theoretical
theory hypothesed by Higgs last century?
Nisati: at this stage the results are compatible with the hy-
pothesis that the new particle is the Higgs boson predicted by
the SM. We have to wait to claim that the boson discovered is
exactly Higgs Boson; particularly, observing this new particle
also in final states with fermions, such as Hττ and
What is the main consequence if Higgs boson is confirmed?
Nisati: in case, SM will receive one of the strongest support
from experimental results. On the contrary, deviations of this
particle from the Standard Model Higgs boson will inevitably
indicate new physics at the energy scale of the LHC. In both
cases, a new extraordinary and exciting era in particle physics
just opened up.
Thus, is seems that, more data are needed to perform preci-
sion measurements of the physics properties of this new boson,
and verify whether this is the Higgs boson predicted by Stan-
dard Model.
Pisano: Maybe new reflections on the history of the World
and its live components might be near to have a crucial
founded hypothesis?
I would like to express my sincere gratitude to Aleandro Ni-
sati for his friendly and precious collaboration. I also thank
Bernard Maitte, Remi Franckowiak, Bernard Pourprix, Robert
Locqueneux, and Lisa Rougetet for co-authoring in the work-
shop-interview and further process during workshop organizing
ATLAS Collaboration (2012). Observation of a new particle in the
search for the standard model higgs boson with ATLAS detector at
the LHC. Physics Letter B 716, 1, 1-29. URL (last checked 14 Janu-
ary 2013).
CMS Collaboration (2012). Observation of a new boson at a mass of
125 GeV with the CMS experiment at the LHC. Physics Letter B,
716, 30-61. URL (last checked 14 January 2013).
Higgs, P. W. (1964). Broken symmetries and the masses of Gauge
Bosons. Physics Review Letter, 13, 508-509.
Higgs, P. W. (1966). Spontaneous symmetry breakdown without Mass
less Bosons. Physics Review Letter, 145, 1156-1163.
Lévy-Leblond, J. M. (1996). Aux contraires, l’exercice de la pensée et
la pratique de la scie n c e. NRF Essais, Paris: Gallimard.
Lévy-Leblond, J. M. (2006). De la matière: Relativiste, quantique,
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Locqueneux, R. (2009). Une histoire des idées en physique. SFHST,
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Kibble, T. W. (1967). Symmetry breaking in non-abelian gauge theo-
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Pisano, R., & Casolaro, F. (2012). A historical inquiry on geometry in
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Pourprix, B. (2009). D’où vient la physique quantique? Paris: Vuibert
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Copyright © 2013 SciRes.
Notes on Aleandro Nisati
Aleandro Nisati is I.N.F.N. (The Italian Institute of Nuclear
Physics) physicist researcher and scientific associate at CERN
on LHC (Large Hadron Collider), Geneva. His research re-
gards with new and strange particles producing a large publish-
ing-and-spreading-job within the ECFA (The European Com-
mittee for Future Accelerators) particularly on Higgs searches,
as well as studies of muon production, in proton-proton colli-
sions at the LHC. He is one of the main founding physicists of
one of the two main experiments at LHC, A Toroidal LHC Ap-
paratuS (ATLAS) where he has been recently Physics Experi-
mental Coordinator: scientific program and the project on muon
detection and spectrometer, trigger system. Nisati also designed
the first-level muon trigger algorithm, as well as the one of the
second-level and for that he was elected chair of the Trig-
ger/DAQ Institutes Board until 2007, and Higgs group co-
convener for next two years. Recently (2012) he is also coordi-
nator of the “ATLAS Input to the European Strategy Prepara-
tory Group”. ATLAS (and CMS, the main experiments at LHC)
has found in summer 2012 a strong evidence of the production
at the LHC of a new boson with mass near 126 GeV. This new
particle is consistent, within the current available experimental
accuracy, with the Standard Model Higgs boson.
Copyright © 2013 SciRes. 5