Higgs Particle and Helmholtz Alliances
On 4 July 2012 at CERN in Geneva, Switzerland, two international research teams have presented the results obtained in experiments using the Large Hadron Collider (LHC). During the experiment projects ATLAS and CMS, they have observed a hitherto unknown particle with a mass in the spectrum of 125 to 126 gigaelectronvolt. This may well be the long sought after Higgs boson or Higgs particle, which could explain how elemental particles obtain mass.
Germany has a share of 20 per cent in the LHS, the currently largest particle accelerator in the world. Since 2007, the ATLAS and CMS researchers have been receiving support from the Helmholtz Alliance "Physics on the Terascale", which integrates 17 universities, DESY, the KIT and the Max Planck Institute Munich in their work on central issues in the field of particle physics involving the highest energy levels. This alliance was brought into existence by Prof. Dr Rolf-Dieter Heuer, the current director of CERN, while he still was employed in his previous post as research director at DESY. His aim was to bundle the German competences in the fields of data analysis, detector development, computing and accelerator technology.
The alliance receives financial support totalling 25 million Euro from out of the Helmholtz Association's Initiative and Networking Fund and, in addition, twice that sum from the 20 partnering institutions. The alliance focuses on the project-related cooperation between the partnering institutes. A special feature of the alliance are the more than 40 schools and workshops serving to train early career researchers. These are supported by both experimental and theoretical physicists. "The Helmholtz alliance was important for this discovery at the LHC," says Prof. Dr Joachim Mnich, Research Director at DESY. "For universities in Germany, the alliance has become a firmly established component in the research landscape," says Prof. Dr Klaus Desch, University of Bonn.
In order to process the enormous amount of data from the LHC experiments, computers from the partnering institutions were linked by so-called GRID computing (for example, at the Tier-1 centre GridKa at the KIT and at the Tier-2 centre at DESY). The alliance has provided a significant share of means towards the computing power required in Germany.