Higgs Hunters

Congratulations! Over 37,000 citizen scientists, from more than 170 countries, became part of the team to search for interesting features in LHC data. Over 1 million classifications were made, and both searches for new long-lived particles and weird events were successful.

There were some surprising events – including observation of a “weird event” - a jet of muon particles in the ATLAS detector, which got the scientists very excited, and provoked a lot of head-scratching. It turned out to be caused by a rare detector process where a shower of particles from the calorimeter can produce what appears to be many muons, so a very interesting detector artifact. So no Nobel prize for this yet, but it certainly got us excited!

The results were excellent. We found that citizen scientists could compete very well with computer algorithms in the analysis of collider data from CERN, performing better for many of the searches. There have been two publications so far: the first describing the (very impressive) ability of the collective set of citizen scientists to detect new phenomena in images of collisions and the second describing community engagement with the project.

HiggsHunters on the Zooniverse platform has beem followed with a schools project, run in partnership with the Institute of Research in Schools, in which school students have been performing further analysis of the classifications. Each group generated their own investigation, choosing an aspect to investigate, producing results and analysis of the results. School analysis included clustering algorithms, complex machine learning algorithms, and databases for large data analysis. School students submitting research posters to the Department of Physics in Oxford at a two-day seminar in Oxford in Summer 2018. The proceedings of this conference have been submitted for review by colleagues at CERN.

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