September 14, 2023
Undergraduate Taylor Sussmane spent the summer in Geneva working at CERN, home to the world's largest and most complex scientific instruments dedicated to studying fundamental particles. She worked on the ATLAS experiment, which uses the largest detector ever constructed for a particle collider. Taylor was looking at the possibility of measurements that might further explain the Higgs Mechanism and therefore the electroweak theory, which unifies two of the four fundamental forces (the weak force and the electromagnetic force). She won support from the National Science Foundation Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program via the University of Michigan.
I was working on an ATLAS project studying the plausibility for a measurement of longitudinally polarized gauge bosons produced in VBF (Vector Boson Fusion) events. Because the longitudinal polarization state arises from the Higgs Mechanism, studying this state could answer some remaining questions about the Higgs Mechanism. Specifically, we wanted to study the energy dependence of the production cross section, which can tell us about the Goldstone Boson Equivalence Theorem in the domain of single gauge boson production.
I worked on this project under the advice of Dr. Philip Sommer, a visiting researcher at CERN. During the summer, I also attended the CERN Summer Student Lectures, where I learned about a wide range of topics relating to research done at CERN. Topics included high energy physics, antimatter studies, heavy ion physics, detector physics, and more. I definitely learned a lot while I was there! Overall, it was a fantastic summer of learning valuable career skills, lounging by Lac Léman, and eating too much Swiss chocolate.
Photo: Taylor in front of "Wandering the Immeasurable," a sculpture designed by Gayle Hermick that welcomes CERN visitors. From the Mesopotamians' cuneiform script to the mathematical formalism behind the discovery of the Higgs boson, the sculpture narrates the story of how knowledge is passed through the generations and illustrates the aesthetic nature of the mathematics behind physics. (Description Credit: ATLAS experiment)