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Searching For Light Dark Matter: A Gedankenexperiment

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Tommaso DorigoRSS Feed of this column.

Tommaso Dorigo is an experimental particle physicist, who works for the INFN at the University of Padova, and collaborates with the CMS experiment at the CERN LHC. He coordinates the European network... Read More »

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Despite the hopes of most and the preconceptions of many, news from the Lepton-Photon conference in Mumbay, India, report that the Standard Model is as alive and strong as it has ever been. Indeed, the recent searches for Supersymmetry by ATLAS and CMS, now analyzing datasets that by all standards must be considered "a heck of a lot of data", have returned negative results and have placed lower limits on sparticle masses at values much larger than those previously investigated (by experiments at the Tevatron and LEP II).
If you work in experimental high-energy physics you soon acquire a particular sensitivity to the economical display of relevant information. Producing figures that convey the most meaning with the minimum effort is sort of an art, and it is a necessary consequence that HEP experimentalists -the smart ones- end up converging on the definition of graphs which are better than all others in this respect.
"In a world of string theory, I can be the Pope [...]. I just need to modify dilatonic Einstein-Gauss-Bonnet theory with low-energy heterotic string theory and it's all quite easy."

H. Campbell


I have written enough today about the topic of Higgs boson searches at the LHC by discussing the new ATLAS limits (see previous post), but I feel that, before going to bed, I need to point out the new results on the same topic by CMS, the competitor experiment. As you know, I work in CMS and I have to be twice as cautious when I write about the results of my own experiment, because some of my colleagues have uncovered nerves when it comes to blogs. However, the little I'll say here tonight should cause no discomfort to anybody.
Much awaited, the results of searches for the Higgs boson at the Large Hadron Collider have been released by the ATLAS collaboration, and are being shown at the Lepton-Photon conference in Mumbay, India. I will provide here just the main results, with little commentary - I wish to let the cake cool down a bit before discussing the subject in detail, examining the various inputs.
In my latest instantiation of the "Guess the plot" series I offered a clipped part of a graph showing branching fractions of the Higgs boson. One of the readers made a comment which I was proud to read, since it showed that interested readers of this blog with no specialized education in particle physics can get to know quite a lot about the matter. I answered there more extensively than I do on average, and then I thought that the answer could be of some use to others to whom the thread had fallen out of the horizon. So I am recycling it here.