Edificio Eugenio Mendoza, Universidad Metropolitana
Caracas, Venezuela
November 18, 2012


The Higgs Barrel

by Claudio Mendoza (IVIC Astrophysicist-Researcher)



The experimental confirmation of the existence of the Higgs Boson announced in July 2012 by the European Center for Nuclear Research (CERN) in Geneva undoubtedly shook the planet. Perhaps it was because of the globalization of telecommunications and social networks that make the news a collective fact in real time; But I also believe that our civilization, now more mature, has not been short in expressing its euphoria for an intellectual achievement that, although it did not understand very well, was convinced that it was of singular importance. At least the wait was long, almost fifty years since three independent groups of theoretical physicists, one led by Professor Peter Higgs of the University of Edinburgh, proposed a somewhat exotic mechanism to explain how matter is generated at the highest level basic. Exotic because they invent out of nothing a "field" - something similar to the Earth's magnetic field or cellular signal - that permeates all space, all the void, the whole Universe, which, when interacting with elementary particles Assigns them their mass, that is, their quota of matter. With this discovery, the Higgs field, personified in an elusive particle that is already identified as Higgs Boson, firmly manifests its physical existence; In other words, it ceases to be a mere conceptual invention of free thinkers.

Today the Higgs Boson is the protagonist of the most established models of contemporary physics to explain, on the one hand, the basic system of matter known as the Standard Model, which details the fundamental particles (atoms) and They derive unified mathematical formalisms to describe some of the interactions or forces with which they interact. And on the other, to explain the first nanoseconds of the birth of the Universe in the cosmological model of the Big Bang, when it began to condense the material to give body to the natural environment that nowadays makes us so familiar. The experimental effort made by the CERN multinational consortium with its Large Hadron Collider (LHC), the giant ATLAS and CMS detectors and the multitudinous teams of researchers, engineers, technicians and students illustrates the science of the 21st century on a larger scale. With the celebration of this fact, the Venezuelan Association for the Advancement of Science (AsoVAC) wants to record the opening of its LXII Annual Convention that this year takes place in the distinguished Metropolitan University. In a modest way, he also wants to recognize a group of about ten Venezuelan graduate students led by Professor José Ocariz of the University of Paris VI and VII who actively participated in the CERN teams and which has the Higgs and the interlacings of his Discovery as the main topic of his doctorate theses.

For this purpose and with the sponsorship of the Banco Mercantil Foundation, the General Secretary of the Caracas Chapter of AsoVAC, Dr. Yajaira Freites, chose a mural by the artist Rolando Peña that we unveil today and are part of the cultural heritage of UNIMET. In the work of the Black Prince, the Higgs Barrel is a natural continuation of the inquiries that it has made since 1999 about the history of the atom, the high energies, the dark energy, the ruptures of symmetries and the artistic possibilities of the Feynman diagrams that acompation to this mural to describe the channels of formation and decay of the illusive barrel. It is a testimony to the optimism and confidence we feel for the scientific performance of the era to come, of the country and especially of UNIMET.