Wednesday 11 December 17:30 - 18:30

Lecture theatre 1
Blackett Building
Imperial College London, South Kensington Campus

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The Higgs: what is it good for?

Science & Technology

The lecture is free to attend and open to all, but registration is required in advance.

A drinks reception will follow in the Level 1 foyer, Blackett Building.


In 2012 nearly 50 years of searching culminated in the detection of the Higgs boson, the elementary particle that provided a theoretical mechanism that gives fundamental particles mass. Since its first discovery this object has been the subject of intense study. One of the most important tools in these studies have been the decays of Higgs particle to tau leptons. These decays have provided the first direct evidence of Higgs boson coupling to fermions, placed stringent limits on new theories such as supersymmetry and are now being used to probe the basic properties of the Higgs boson. Other studies of the Higgs decaying to invisible particles have provided probes into dark matter that are complementary to direct searches.

Upon discovery of the Higgs boson the Director General of CERN described the discovery as the culmination of three success stories: the building of a machine to accelerate the colliding particles; the development of the detectors to find it; and the innovating computing to analyse and interpret the data. While the great detectors of CMS and ATLAS and the awesome scale of the LHC ring are well covered in the media, the computational challenges are a lesser-heard story.

David Colling is a Professor of Physics and e-Science at Imperial College London. He has been involved LHC computing since it its inception and has studied the Higgs boson in different ways for more than a decade. In his talk David will describe the Higgs mechanism, the search for the Higgs boson and how the study of the discovered particle can shed light on some of the most basic questions of the universe. He will describe the innovative computational approaches used by the LHC and how the lessons learnt are being used to build infrastructures that will help future generations of big data science.


David Colling has been a member of the CMS experiment since the year 2000. Initially he worked on the distributed computing model to be adopted by CMS (and the other LHC experiments) and the emerging Worldwide LHC Computing Grid and its UK component GridPP. He has led the e-Science activity within the particle physics group at Imperial College since this time.

In 2005, in preparation for the expected start of LHC data taking, David started looking at the physics of the Higgs boson and in particular its coupling to tau leptons. Despite being difficult objects to study, the tau leptons have great promise as tools to study the Higgs boson both within and beyond the Standard Model of particle physics. His team has been behind many of the important results that have come out in this field over the past decade.

Performing big science is about team work and David has been lucky enough to lead excellent teams at Imperial and across CMS in both Computing and Physics.

Before joining CMS David gained both his first degree and PhD from Imperial College. His PhD was on heavy flavour physics on the ALEPH experiment at CERN. Between his PhD and joining CMS David was a member of the D0 experiment at Fermilab near Chicago and spent time working on the application of particle physics technologies and techniques to other areas.


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