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Media Advisory: Johns Hopkins Expert Available to Discuss Restart of LHC

June 8, 2015
CONTACT: Arthur Hirsch
Office: 443-997-9909 / Cell: 443-462-8702

Andrei Gritsan, a Johns Hopkins University associate professor of physics and astronomy who contributed to the discovery of the fundamental particle known as the Higgs boson, is available to discuss the restart of the Large Hadron Collider, where the Higgs boson was detected in 2012.

Located some 320 feet underground at the border of France and Switzerland, the LHC – one of the largest pieces of scientific equipment and the most powerful particle accelerator ever built – is designed to help answer basic questions about the laws of nature.  After two years off for maintenance and upgrading, the machine that crashes protons together at nearly the speed of light has just been switched back on by its operator, the European nuclear research organization called CERN.

The upgrades will boost the energy of proton collisions by more than half, meaning the new round of experiments could produce information beyond what scientists found in the first round, said Gritsan, who leads a team of Hopkins researchers studying the Higgs boson at the LHC.  The greater intensity of the collisions makes it difficult to predict what will emerge in the months to come, but that’s part of why scientists are doing the work, he said.

“The reason we do what we do is to challenge predictions and current knowledge,” said Gritsan, who has been a CERN visiting scientist since 2006, one of about 1,000 U.S. scientists working on the project.  In 2012, he took part in analyzing information from proton collisions that contributed to the announcement that summer of the discovery of the Higgs boson, a particle that helps explain why some elementary particles have mass.

The discovery of the Higgs boson in July 2012 culminated a search that began in the 1960s when a number of physicists, including Peter Higgs of Great Britain, theorized on the existence of a field that would give certain particles mass.  The field became known as the Higgs field, and in 2013 Peter Higgs and Belgian physicist Francois Englert were awarded the Nobel Prize for their work.

Gritsan has co-authored several published papers on the Higgs boson, and expects to travel to the CERN site this summer.  He heads a team of two researchers at the LHC site and four in Baltimore.

To speak to Gritsan, contact Arthur Hirsch at 443-997-9909 (office), 443-462-8702 (cell) or ahirsch6@jhu.edu.


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