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Particle Physics and Pony Fiction Experimentalist

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Pinkie Pie explains the latest press release from the CERN particle physics laboratory · 5:03pm August 6th

CERN experiments announce first indications of a rare Higgs boson process

Pinkie Pie bounced up to her friends, who were enjoying drinks at an outside café table in Ponyville. She beamed at them with a full-width high energy smile.

“Hey there! Have you heard the latest news from the International Conference on High Energy Physics? It’s the most exciting particle physics news EVER!.. Well maybe not the most exciting particle physics news ever… I suppose the most exciting particle physics news ever was over two thousand years ago when Demo-what’s-his-name realized everything is made of particles—but this is more exciting than that! At least, it’s the most exciting news since the LHCb experiment saw a four-charm tetraquark. And the most exciting Higgs results since—well since the last Higgs results were announced. It’s about the Higgs Boson! How could it not be the most exciting news EVER!”

Rainbow Dash put down her mango and passion fruit smoothie and looked back at the grinning pink face.

“What are you… What’s Higg’s Bison?”

“Higgs Boson. Higgs Bison works at Fermilab. Of course, Fermilab is also involved in what’s going on at CERN. Who wouldn’t want to be involved? CERN is the High Energy Frontier. Where all the record-breaking hoof-biting high-energy action is happening. At the Large Hadron Collider, where they smash proton beams together at 13 tera energy volts energy. Or at least, it’s where it was happening until Run 2 ended and the long shutdown began. But the break has given the physics teams the time to look at the huge enormous pile of data, and guess what they’ve found!”

“A Higgs?”

“Yes a Higgs Boson—or rather lots of Higgs Bosons—or rather a statistical excess of events which can be attributed to the Higgs Boson. The Higgs is one of the coolest particles in the Standard Model of Particle Physics. There are lots of other cool particles. There’s strange quarks and charm quarks and tau leptons and photons and Z bosons and anti-muon-neutrinos and all sorts of other cute fermions and bosons. But the Higgs has to be the coolest. It was discovered eight years ago—the final missing piece in the Standard Model which explained how other particles got their mass. We never actually see a Higgs itself, it only lives for a fraction of a billionth of a picosecond before it decays into other particles. When it was discovered we knew it was there as we could see the high energy W bosons and Z bosons that it decayed into… Except we didn’t actually see the W or Z bosons themselves as they don’t live any longer than the Higgs… but we see the other particles that they decay into…”

“So what’s the big news now?”

Pinkie threw her hooves in the air and raised her volume to convey how big it was. “They’ve seen the Higgs decaying into muons!”


“Muons. Dashie, you really should pay any attention to fundamental particle physics? You should follow what’s happening at ICHEP – they have some really cool public talks and other stuff on their website. Muons are one of my personal favourite particles. They’re a heavier version on the electron. Actually quite a lot heavier. Two hundred times heavier. That’s like moose-sized compared to rabbit-sized. I think. I’ve never actually tried to lift a moose, but they look like they are about two hundred times as heavy as rabbits. And muons are a SECOND GENERATION PARTICLE! This is what makes it really exciting! We’ve known since it was discovered that the Higgs decays to third generation particles like taus and bottom quarks, as well as photons and W and Z bosons, but it’s the first time we’ve seen the Higgs interact with a second generation elementary particles like muons! It’s a really rare decay. Let me explain…”

Pinkie Pie paused her monologue and put her hoof into her mane and pulled out a segmented fruit tart, which she put on the table. As if by magic, but of course it wasn’t magic. It was just Pinkie Pie.


“What’s that?”

“It’s a pie chart. The majority of the time, a Higgs will decay to two b-quarks. The other big channels are tau-tau, WW, ZZ. Everything else is in this little slice—” she pointed a hoof at the ‘other’ slice. “The Higss to mu-mu is just 0.02 percent. If there was a mu-mu portion, there would be so little pie that you wouldn’t see or taste it at all. That’s how rare it is.”

Twilight Sparkle raised an eyebrow. “It’s not unexpected Pinkie. It took a while to collect all the data to show this, but the result is just as expected. It fits the Standard Model perfectly.”

“Not that amazing!” Pinkie thrust her head closer to her friend and narrowed her eyes to challenge this assessment. “Think of the work that went into this! Finding a Higgs decaying to two muons, among everything else that decays to two muons is a juggling-twenty-batons-while-balancing-on-a-giant-ball-and-playing-the-accordion level of complicated. There are so many things that can mimmick this. It took a very close look at the data to be sure. You need to measure the energy really really really really well as show it matches the mass of the Higgs, and do a super sophisticated background model and some clever machine-learning stuff. But THEY DID IT. It’s a THREE SIGMA RESULT!”

Rainbow Dash only heard the last sentence. “Does that mean your team won?”

“Everyone wins Dashie! The chance of seeing what looked like a Higgs turn into two muons just because of some statistical fluke is less than one in seven hundred.” Pinkie paused, tired out by her long speech. She looked up at the sky dreamily. “It’s just so super amazingly exciting what we’ve learned from the Run 2 data from the Large Hadron Collider. I just can’t wait to see what results we get from Run 3 once the long shutdown is over.” After this moment of reflection, she looked back at her friends with a ready-for-action expression. “You know what this calls for?”

“More particle physics?”

“No. Well yes—that goes without saying. But first we need to have A PARTY! Are you ready? I’ve got balloons and streamers and party cannons at the ready. Now I just need my friends to celebrate! And a suitable cake recipe.”

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Comments ( 5 )

How lucky for us, feels like the LGC won a lottery ticket.

“What’s that?”

“It’s a pie chart.

Technically, are all her charts pie charts? :pinkiehappy:

:pinkiegasp: Lemon meringue is not a fruit pie! It is a curd pie!

A pie chart about pies, made of pie. I can't even be mad about the pun because it was so much work for what, in the end, was just pieces of six different kinds of pie that added up to one pie total. That sort of dedication to a joke is admirable regardless of the punchline's quality.

Ah, muons again. These cool cats keep coming up:

When 1st discovered, they showed that timedialation is real because cosmic rays generated them at the top of the atmosphere and they should decay before reaching the ground.

They can cause cold fusion by forcing 2 deuteriumnuclei close enough together for quantumtunneling to fuse them, but this is uses more energy than it generates.

Gammaraybursts can irradiate half the planet by generating a shower of muons from relativistic protons colliding with nuclei in the upper atmosphere.

On a sidenote, my physical therapist vetoed returning to work until 12,020-09-21 HE (Human Era) so that I can regain strength and range of motion (my bones healed but my left arm is still stiff and weak.

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