Beyond the Higgs boson – the high energy physics conference continues this week in Melbourne

Bulletins, High Energy Physics Conference, Media bulletins

Higgsteria has gripped the nation – this week we’ve seen physics on the front pages of newspaper, on commercial TV and breakie radio. A conversation has continued in the letters pages and online. Today Annabelle Crabb at Fairfax and Miranda Devine at News have focussed on the Higgs.

But it’s not over yet. Now we’ve found the Higgs boson, what’s next?

At the high energy physics conference this week, we’ll hear about:

  • a giant ice cube telescope under the South Pole looking for neutrinos;
  • the search for dark matter;
  • building new atom-smashers;
  • charm quarks and charmonium;
  • the possibility of multiple Higgs bosons;
  • and leaders from CERN, Fermilab, KEK (Japan) and IHEP (China) will tell us what’s next – what we will be hearing about in two years, five years, ten years and beyond.

We’ll be holding morning and afternoon press briefings at 8am and 6pm in plenary 3 at the Melbourne Convention Centre, and webcast via 

Monday 9 July – ‘Evans the Atom’ and the future of the LHC

Lyn Evans, dubbed ‘Evans the Atom’ by the Welsh press, led the construction of the LHC. He was there to switch it on in 2008 and he was in Geneva last week to hear the results of its search.

He’s now working on designs for the next generation of atom-smashers as the International Committee for Future Accelerators considers sites in Japan, America, Russia and Western Europe.

New machines will have to cope with extreme heat and pressure. Meet scientists who are using diamonds to develop a new array of sensor technologies for use in “extreme radiation conditions”.

And now that the LHC has found the Higgs boson, scientists will use it to search directly for dark matter, as astrophysicists look into space to looks for evidence of its existence.

We know it makes up the bulk of the universe, but we’re not sure why. We can’t see it, but we know it’s there. Understanding dark matter and dark energy will help us to understand gravity and the expansion of the universe.

At Monday’s briefings, meet:

  • Lyn Evans – the man behind the Large Hadron Collider
  • William Trischuk – who says that $10 million worth of diamonds is ‘dirt cheap’
  • Mark Trodden – a self-described ‘particle cosmologist’
  • Karen Gibson – who’s looking for dark matter in an abandoned gold mine

Tuesday 10 July – a telescope buried under the Antarctic ice

A supernova shoots out billions of neutrinos, which have no mass and pass straight through Earth as if it wasn’t there. Jenni Adams is a Kiwi scientist who’s trying to detect neutrinos as the pass through the Earth. She’s lucky to catch a dozen of them.

She’s using a neutrino telescope buried a couple of kilometres under the South Pole. It’s one of a pair – the other is under the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of France.

They’re looking for black holes at the centre of galaxies, tracing the origin of cosmic rays and helping in the search for dark matter.

And hear about the unusual world of subatomic particles, where charm quarks and charm antiquarks come together in charmonium. We’ve got people who can talk about muons, pions, kaons, and gluons; top quarks, bottom quarks, up and down quarks; as well as the more familiar photons, electrons and the recently discovered Higgs boson.

At Tuesday’s briefings, meet:

  • Jenni Adams – a Kiwi scientist spotting neutrinos IceCube, an underground Antarctic telescope
  • Pat Scott and Matthais Danninger – two young guys working with Jenni at IceCube
  • Lance Dixon – who’s searching for ‘new physics’ in the menagerie of subatomic particles

Wednesday 11 July – what’s next? Physics in Japan, China and around the world

Delegates at this conference were witness to a huge announcement, a game-changer in the field of particle physics.

What can we expect at Valencia in Spain in 2014 when high energy physicists reconvene for the 37th International Conference on High Energy Physics?

What will the next atom-smashers look like and where will they be?

What will we look for after the Higgs boson?

Wednesday’s briefing will be a speculative chat with leaders from:

  • CERN, the European Organisation for Nuclear Research
  • Fermilab, the leading American particle physics lab
  • KEK, the Japanese accelerator research organization
  • IHEP, the Institute for High Energy Physics in Beijing
  • And, here in Melbourne, the ARC Centre of Excellence for Particle Physics 

Conversation with Fabiola Gianotti – Tuesday 10 July, 8pm

Meet the leader of the ATLAS collaboration, one of the two teams who worked on the search for the Higgs boson at the Large Hadron Collider.

Fabiola Gianotti is the spokeswoman and coordinator of the world’s largest scientific experiment. She was elected by her scientific colleagues to represent them as they revealed the results of their $10 billion search for the Higgs.

Prof Gianotti will be at Melbourne University this Tuesday 10 July.

In her lecture she will discuss the challenges and goals of the Large Hadron Collider, the ATLAS experiment and its latest results, and the impact of particle physics on society.

The Basement Theatre, The Spot Building (Business & Economics)

198 Berkeley Street, Carlton

Press briefing details and background information

All our press briefings are in Plenary 3, at the Melbourne Convention Centre, South Wharf. We are also hosting a media room upstairs for accredited media.

For those of us without a higher degree in theoretical physics, we’ve got a crack team of friendly physicists to answer your questions and help you understand the science.

On the conference media website,, we have: photos and videos of the Higgs announcement: abstracts and program timetables; background information; and copies of any press releases and briefing materials we put out.

These press briefings and all of this week’s plenary sessions will be live-streamed at the conference press website if you can’t make it to the Melbourne Convention Centre. There’s no need to register for that – it will be freely available via the conference media website.