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In this issue:
W Boson Squeezes Higgs Particle
FGST Collaboration Meets in Hiroshima
Around SLAC: Spring is Coming

SLAC Today

Thursday - March 12, 2009

W Boson Squeezes Higgs Particle

(Photo - W bozon plush toy puts the Higgs in a vice)
Photographer Robert Tilden, a software engineer at Northwestern University, caught the W boson squeezing the Higgs. Artist Julie Peasley created the plush toys for The Particle Zoo. (Photo by Robert Tilden. Click for larger image.)

The DZero collaboration at the Department of Energy's Fermilab has achieved the world's most precise measurement of the mass of the W boson by a single experiment. Combined with other measurements, the reduced uncertainty of the W boson mass will lead to stricter bounds on the mass of the elusive Higgs boson.

The W boson is a carrier of the weak nuclear force and a key element of the Standard Model of elementary particles and forces. The particle, which is about 85 times heavier than a proton, enables radioactive beta decay and makes the sun shine. The Standard Model also predicts the existence of the Higgs boson, the origin of mass for all elementary particles.  Read more in Symmetry Breaking...

See also the Fermilab news release on Interactions and "'God Particle' Not a Heavyweight" in New Scientist.

FGST Collaboration Meets in Hiroshima

(Photo - FGST collaboration in Hiroshima)
The FGST collaboration met in Hiroshima, Japan, last week. This group photo was taken at the Cenotaph in Peace Park. (Photo courtesy of the FGST collaboration. Click for larger image.)

Last week, Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope collaborators from around the world—including 21 from SLAC and the Kavli Institute for Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology—gathered in Hiroshima, Japan, for five days of extensive discussion on a very broad range of topics.

"Our recent results are excellent, and there was a great feeling at the meeting," said KIPAC physicist Elliot Bloom. "We often hold these meetings in California or Washington DC, but because we have a lot of collaborators around the world we sometimes have these meetings abroad. This one was particularly nice because our Japanese collaborators and the city of Hiroshima really went out of their way to accommodate us."

Held in the conference center adjacent to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum, the meeting included general sessions on recently completed analyses, tutorials on various parts of the data analysis process, and science working group splinter sessions covering the astrophysics gamut from dark matter and new physics to supernova remnants and pulsar wind nebula.

KIPAC physicist Richard Dubois said that in addition to the information covered in the scheduled sessions, the meeting was quite useful because he could work with his collaborators face-to-face. "We have a lot of teleconferences, but it's really handy to get all the experts together to work on problems in person," he said. "Things get done much more quickly when you're together in a room."

(Photo - volleyball on the SLAC Green March 10, 2009)

Around SLAC: Spring is Coming

With the recent sunny days and the vernal equinox just over a week away, spring is in the air, and certainly in the step of these SLACers. This group from the Linac Coherent Light Source practice their spikes, sets and serves on sunny afternoons twice a week. New players are welcome—the game starts at noon, Tuesdays on the SLAC green and Thursdays behind Building 40.

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