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Higgs Properties Micro Workshop January 15, 2009

Posted by gordonwatts in Conference.

There is a micro workshop going on at the UW this week: Higgs properties. The web site contains links to the talks and we are also uploading video of the formal discussions (sorry, it is in EVO format).

This is the first in a series of Joint Theoretical-Experimental workshops run jointly by the University of Washington Physics Department and the University of Oregon Physics Department. The idea is that everyone has been spending all of their time at the LHC working on the Higgs discovery (as we should be). But once the Higgs is discovered – then what? The most important question, perhaps, is “What kind of Higgs is it?” Is it a Standard Model Higgs? Or is it something more exciting – a Higgs that looks like it better matches a particle in another theory?

Actually, this question is the age old one in particle physics. As soon as a new particle is discovered one must measure everything about it to make sure it is the particle we think it is. We think we have a duck, now, listen to its quack and make sure it is a duck! We did this with the top quark discovery back in 1995. As soon as we had it, we started measuring its properties (for current results see the Other Properties section of our current Top Results).

Of course, if we are do this this properly, we need to know what numbers are expected within the theory of the Standard Model – so we can look for deviations. And with the Higgs this is just getting started. Experimental and Theoretical concerns come together here: some things are hard to measure and others are hard to calculate. The point is to find the numbers that need a bit more calculation or slightly better measurement techniques. This is best done when you have a group of experimenters and theorists sitting around a table hashing things out. We can then all go back to our offices and our experiments and try out our new ideas over the next year. I suppose one can think of these workshops as a jumping off point for new investigations. The biggest surprise for me is how theoretically unstable the jet-veto cut is. I don’t really understand enough of the issues yet to write about it, however.

I really like this format of workshop. I attended something similar in at Davis back in 2007 on really crazy (unexpected) theories. This one is organized around a one or two talks in the morning and afternoon, and the rest of the time is spent in discussion in smaller groups. The result is people like me, who are lucky enough to be local and perhaps don’t know so much about Higgs properties, are learning a lot, and the experts are getting to talk about the things that need to be done for the next year. There is one major downside to this however: it is at my home institution. That means I’m still preparing lecture for classes, attending department meetings, and coming home every evening to be a Dad. The result is the workshop doesn’t get as much time as it should! Or I’m just not getting the sleep I should be getting!

The series is supported by the DOE – they gave us enough money for this idea that we can fly participants to Seattle. This makes a huge difference as to whom we can invite: it is much easier to pull people from Europe, and in a world of tight science budgets this is hugely appreciated!

UPDATE: Ann Heinson pointed out I should really be linking to a much nicer web page with top quark results on it.



1. Lisa Smith - January 16, 2009

Hey, that’s the website I designed! Or rather, ad hoc web page. 🙂

2. gordonwatts - January 16, 2009

That background picture is pretty cool!

3. Michael Schmitt - January 18, 2009

I’m glad the Higgs Properies workshop is a success. In my opinion, we need far more of these kind of brief but very focussed workshops with lots of rich discussions and ideas for future work. Bravo to the team who organized this (and to DOE for supporting it).

4. Gordon Watts - January 18, 2009

Definately — I like these things a lot better than the big conferences – at least when I want to learn about a single topic. I hope the DOE will continue to support efforts like this around the country.

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