Digging Deeper Into The Particles

by Jalen Crump

Bonjour encore une fois tout le monde!

Hello again curious viewer! You’ve made it back to the second post, Congratulations. In this post, I will be explaining the physical processes, uses, and definitions involved in a citizen science project calls Higgs Hunters, which includes Higgs Boson particle data classifications. This post will include my personal experiences with classifications, and also what you can do to help the physicists. So, let us move on!

Higgs Hunters was started by a group of physicists who research and analyze particle data in the LHC. Most recently, a particle called the Higgs Boson was found. We will be looking into the data from this particle in recordings from the ATLAS detector (see my last post). Now, what is a particle data classification? A particle data classification is just what it sounds like. You’re observing data from a particle collision and recording what you see. The intended  event to be observed is called an off-center vertice. An off-center vertice is a line showing the motion of particles that does not originate from the center or create a new vertice after originating from the center. Another word for a particle line is called a branch. Identifying the branches inside of these data sheets can be quite the challenge. To compensate, I have provided a diagram to elaborate on what the citizen scientists are searching for. The pictures below will further elaborate the components in a data sheet.

In the first picture below, the “H” indicates the Higgs particle, which is also indicating the center. The dotted line is the path of the particle. The off center vertice occurs when new particles break off from the original particle, creating the new paths that show up as an off center vertice.


There are 2 types of images you might classify on the website. One is the original view of the data. The other is called the slice view. I have placed both below (original view is on the left, slice view on the right).


Shown in the picture below is a data recording from ATLAS. The colored lines represent the motions  of particles, the site also refers to these as branches. Most of them originate from the center. I have indicated the vertices not from the center with red circles.


I have done quite a few of these classifications myself. My personal experience with classifying was initially challenging. Overtime, I developed an understanding of a basic data and applied that understanding to the my classifications. I then developed my own method to analyze the data classifications.

  1.  First, I look at the type of data sheet I have. I notice what is present on the sheet, as in an abundant supply of particle lines, or very few.
  2.  Secondly, I observed the data for off center vertices. I then indicated the vertice. The amount of branches in some data sheets will sometimes come in a copious sum, the site asks you to record the exact number of branches you see so this made this method play out a bit more challenging than expected.
  3. Lastly, I went into detail observe mode. In this, I looked for more minute vertices coming off another off center vertice. This was by far the most complicated part. It took absolute focus and precise observing to classify correctly.

A common question is: Why do we need to classify particle data? The answer is quite simple actually. These classifications give the physicist a more accurate understanding of the Higgs Boson particle, or any particle being studied for that matter.

Now that you know how to classify, it’s time for you to spring to action and do classifications of your own! “But why do you need me?” Particle studies grant tons of data. All of this data needs to be organized correctly. With your help on the classifications, it will make data organization much easier. It also benefits you with improved knowledge! I have placed the link to Higgs Below. So go on, Happy Hunting!



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