The Higgs Boson Explained

ATTENTION: Reporters, producers covering science

WHAT: A free public lecture and panel discussion, “The Higgs Boson Explained: What is the Higgs and Why is Everyone So Excited About it?” by University of California, Berkeley, physicists involved in the search for what some have dubbed the “God particle” because it imbues all other particles in the universe with mass.

Last week, two teams of physicists announced that the ATLAS and CMS experiments at the Large Hadron Collider in Geneva, Switzerland, had discovered a new elementary particle that most likely is the long-sought Higgs boson. UC Berkeley physicists will explain what the Higgs is, why it was predicted and how a Higgs-like particle was proven to exist.

WHEN: 12 p.m. noon Friday, July 13

WHERE: 2050 Valley Life Sciences Building (Chan Shun Auditorium), UC Berkeley campus (see map)


  • Beate Heinemann, an experimental physicist, UC Berkeley associate professor of physics and member of the ATLAS experiment at the Large Hadron Collider run by the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN)
  • Lawrence Hall, a theoretical physicist, UC Berkeley professor of physics and former director of the Berkeley Center for Theoretical Physics
  • Marjorie Shapiro, UC Berkeley professor of physics and member of the ATLAS experiment
  • Josh Ruderman, a Miller Post-Doctoral Fellow in UC Berkeley’s Department of Physics
  • Louise Skinnari, UC Berkeley Ph.D. student and ATLAS experiment member

After short presentations by Heinemann and Hall, Mark Richards, executive dean of the College of Letters & Science, will moderate a discussion among all five physicists.

DETAILS: Early on the morning of July 4, the heads of the ATLAS and the CMS experiments at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) in Geneva announced that they had observed a new elementary particle with a mass “consistent with a Higgs boson.” While the LHC scientists were cautious, calling the results preliminary, many other scientists were eager to call the multi-billion-dollar quest for the Higgs boson a success worthy of a Nobel Prize. Some equated the results to the discovery of DNA. CERN heralded the discovery with the tag line, “Our understanding of the universe is about to change….”

All members of the campus community and the public are invited to attend.

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