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Gamberg discusses discovery of the Higgs particle in Losoncy Lecture Series

Dr. Leonard Gamberg
Dr. Gamberg discusses discovery of the Higgs particle

In the second annual George J. Losoncy Lecture in Physics and Astronomy, Dr. Leonard Gamberg, Associate Professor of Physics at Penn State Berks, will give a lecture titled “At the Frontier of Particle Physics: The Discovery of the Higgs Particle-What Does it Mean?” on Thursday, March 21, 2013, at 5:00 p.m. in the Perkins Student Center Auditorium. This event is free and open to the public, and it will be preceded by a reception in the Freyberger Gallery at 4:30 p.m., where light refreshments will be served.

The talk is the second in the annual lecture series named in honor of George Losoncy, who was a dedicated Penn State Berks employee for 17 years, serving the college with perfect attendance, and donating 182 unused sick days when he retired in 2009. He was an enthusiastic supporter of the Science Division Colloquia and was particularly interested in physics and astronomy. Upon his retirement, he donated $50,000 to set up a research endowment in physics and astronomy at Penn State Berks.

On July 4th, 2012, the leaders of two experimental collaborations numbering more than 6,000 scientists from around the world announced the discovery of a new elementary particle resembling the so-called Higgs particle from experiments performed at the Large Hadron Collider, which is located at the European Center in Switzerland. The Higgs particle is named after Peter Higgs, a British physicist. In 1964, along with five other physicists, Higgs proposed a physical mechanism to characterize the properties of the weak nuclear force of nature. As a consequence of this theory, he predicted the existence of a new particle that explains how all other elementary particles seen in nature, such as the electron, possess mass. The consequences of this prediction led to a revolution in physics where a small number of newly predicted elementary particles were subsequently discovered over a 40-year period, except for the illusive Higgs particle.

If the recent discovery holds up under further tests, it would complete a quest of more than 50 years of exploration to verify the Standard Model of elementary particle physics. This new discovery could, on the other hand, require a modification of the theory and thus open the door to physics beyond the Standard Model. To date, the Standard Model has been the most successful physical theory in describing the visible elementary particles and fields of nature. Uncovering the full characteristics of this "Higgs-like" elementary particle will rely on carefully measuring its interactions with other particles and fields, and that may take sometime to resolve.

In this presentation, Gamberg will give an overview of what appears to be a monumental discovery at the frontiers of science, and describe the central role that the Higgs mechanism plays in Standard Model of elementary particle physics.

Recently, Gamberg has been awarded a grant for $120,000 from the Office of Science of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), Division of Nuclear Theory. His research focuses on understanding how the sub-nuclear elementary particles, quarks and gluons, give rise the spin and momentum structure of composite particles that feel the strong nuclear force, such as the nucleons (proton and neutron) and mesons (pions, kaons). The grant for Gamberg's project, "Transverse Spin and Momentum Structure of Hadrons in QCD" began on Nov. 15, 2012, and will run until Nov. 14, 2015. This three-year grant includes funds to support student research assistants to work with Gamberg, a sub-atomic nuclear particle physicist.

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