Weizmann Wins International “Pretend Experiment”


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More than 2,000 physicists from about 50 countries are preparing for an experiment, planned for 2007, which aims to find a particle believed to make up all mass in the universe. Proving the existence of the particle, called the Higgs, would improve our understanding of the universe and might open the door to “new physics,” the laws of which physicists today can only try to imagine.

The particle accelerator being built for this goal on the French- Swiss border will contain a particle detector, called ATLAS, which will receive more data at any given moment than all of the world's telephone networks combined. The big challenge will be to interpret the data. Thus the organizers of the project decided to conduct a “dry run”: Several small hints for a possible new physics were hidden among millions of simulated events, and groups of physicists were challenged to find as many hints as possible and “publish” their findings. Tying for first place were the Weizmann Institute and Cambridge University. The prize was a wooden brainteaser.

Taking a major part in the deciphering were Ph.D. student Arie Melamed-Katz, Profs. Ehud Duchovni and Eilam Gross, postdoctoral fellow Dr. Michael Rivline and Ph.D. students Lidija Zivkovic and Peter Renkel. 

Prof. Duchovni’s research is supported by the Nella and Leon Benoziyo Center for High Energy Physics.