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The Higgs Boson and Beyond

The Higgs Boson and Beyond

Professor Sean Carroll, Ph.D.
California Institute of Technology

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The Higgs Boson and Beyond

Course No. 1205
Professor Sean Carroll, Ph.D.
California Institute of Technology
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4.7 out of 5
131 Reviews
90% of reviewers would recommend this series
Course No. 1205
  • Audio or Video?
  • You should buy audio if you would enjoy the convenience of experiencing this course while driving, exercising, etc. While the video does contain visual elements, the professor presents the material in an engaging and clear manner, so the visuals are not necessary to understand the concepts. Additionally, the audio audience may refer to the accompanying course guidebook for names, works, and examples that are cited throughout the course.
  • You should buy video if you prefer learning visually and wish to take advantage of the visual elements featured in this course. The video version is not heavily illustrated, featuring a variety of visuals designed to aid in your understanding of the course material, including eye-catching graphics and illustrations of concepts like gluons, quarks, and Feynman diagrams, as well as photographs and illustrations of the remarkable Large Hadron Collider. There are on-screen spellings and definitions to help reinforce material for visual learners.
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Course Overview

The search for, and ultimate discovery of, the Higgs boson is a triumph of modern physics—a global, half-century effort whose outcome would make or break the vaunted Standard Model of particle physics. The hunt for the Higgs was the subject of wide media attention due to the cost of the project, the complexity of the experiment, and the importance of its result. And, when it was announced with great fanfare in 2012 that physicists succeeded in creating and identifying this all-important new particle, the discovery was justly celebrated around the world.

And yet, virtually no one who happily read that news could tell you what, exactly, the Higgs boson was, and why its discovery was so important that we had to spend 10 billion dollars and build the single largest and most complex device in the history of mankind in order to find it. When you truly understand the details, this story ranks as one of the most fascinating, important, and thrilling in the history of modern physics.

Now, in The Higgs Boson and Beyond, award-winning theoretical physicist Sean Carroll returns to The Great Courses to guide you through the details of this incredible story. A brilliant researcher working at the very forefront of physics, as well as a gifted speaker who excels in explaining difficult and esoteric scientific concepts to the public, Professor Carroll is perfectly positioned to tell this story. In this 12-lecture masterpiece of scientific reporting, you'll learn everything you need to know to fully grasp the significance of this scientific discovery, including:

  • the basics of quantum mechanics;
  • the four forces that comprise the Standard Model of particle physics;
  • how these forces are transmitted by fields and particles; and
  • the importance of symmetry in physics.

In addition, Professor Carroll offers an in-depth view of the Large Hadron Collider—the largest machine ever built, and the device responsible for finally revealing the concept of the Higgs boson as reality. By the end, you’ll understand how the Higgs boson verifies the final piece in the Standard Model of particle physics, and how its discovery validates and deepens our understanding of the universe.

A Discovery of Mass Importance
It’s hard to overstate the importance of the Higgs field to the structure of our world and the universe itself. First postulated to exist in 1964 by Peter Higgs, the Higgs field and the particle associated with it explain one of the most fundamental concepts of reality itself—how elementary particles get mass. In addition, the discovery of the Higgs boson has importance for a huge number of unanswered questions and exciting avenues of research in modern physics, including:

  • insight into the nature of the universe and its ultimate fate;
  • the existence of scalar fields—fields with a zero "spin" that, prior to the discovery of the Higgs field, were only theoretical in nature;
  • insight into cosmic inflation—a theory that describes exponential expansion of space during the first few moments of the universe;
  • new understandings of how symmetry and symmetry breaking works; and
  • new approaches to understanding dark matter and possible extra dimensions.

In addition, you'll come to understand how the Large Hadron Collider, which was built specifically for the task of creating a Higgs boson, has immense value in future experiments in physics.

A Feast for the Eyes and the Mind

Professor Carroll's Higgs Boson and Beyond is a feast for the eyes as well as the mind. Produced on a virtual set, the course utilized purpose-built graphics and 3-D models as an incredible aid to understanding the material, allowing somewhat abstract and unusual concepts to be clearly rendered before your eyes. This is an experience like no other, a presentation beyond anything that you could experience in a traditional classroom.

A theoretical physicist of significant standing in the scientific community, Professor Carroll followed the hunt for the Higgs boson with rapt attention and was present at CERN on the day they announced the discovery. Between his access to the researchers working on the project, and his expertise in modern physics, he has a uniquely clear view of the subject. He also has an exceptional ability to explain complex scientific concepts in a way that makes them clear and comprehensible to any motivated learner. All of these factors make Professor Carroll the perfect guide to this complex and rewarding story.

The Higgs Boson and Beyond will expand your understanding of the universe by taking you on a tour of its most fundamental components. With the insightful guidance of Professor Carroll, you’ll soon be able to understand one of the most important discoveries of our age.

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12 lectures
 |  31 minutes each
  • 1
    The Importance of the Higgs Boson
    Why was the discovery of the Higgs boson such a big deal? That's the key question that Professor Carroll tackles in his illuminating introduction. Take a fascinating dive into the world of modern particle physics and see how the Higgs is the missing piece of a scientific puzzle that helps us understand the "rules" for the universe. x
  • 2
    Quantum Field Theory
    Toss out the textbook image of electrons circling an atom's nucleus. This lecture explores the big twist of quantum field theory: The world isn't really made of particles. They're fascinating and necessary figments of quantum mechanics created by observing the fields that fill every inch of the universe, and grasping that eye-opening concept is essential to understanding the Higgs. x
  • 3
    Atoms to Particles
    Now that you know what particles really are, it's time to walk through the particle zoo and explore the roles of photons, gluons, and quarks. Along the way, Professor Carroll looks back on the development of the Standard Model and how our changing understanding of the weak nuclear field suggested the existence of the Higgs years before we found it. x
  • 4
    The Power of Symmetry
    Symmetries don't only apply to geometrical objects. They apply to the laws of physics themselves. In this lecture, you may feel your mind twist in asymmetrical ways as you explore how symmetry governs the known forces of nature and how it helped form a wild theory that an as-yet-undiscovered particle - the Higgs - must exist. x
  • 5
    The Higgs Field
    With the basics of particle physics covered, Professor Carroll walks us through the decades-long hunt for the Higgs. You'll meet the many brilliant minds - Anderson, Englert, and Higgs among them - who determinedly set out to solve the mystery of the weak nuclear field. You'll also discover why Angelina Jolie is like a top quark. x
  • 6
    Mass and Energy
    In this lecture, classical" physics, as explained by Newtonian and Einsteinian mechanics, provides insight into what makes the Higgs so special. Uncover the key to the Higgs's uniqueness in the particle zoo - that even at its minimum energy state (its "resting" state), the Higgs field has a large, constant value." x
  • 7
    Colliding Particles
    Once physicists established the need for the Higgs boson to exist, how did they set out to locate it? It was just a matter of bringing the particles and fields together under the right conditions. You'll see how physicists use Feynman diagrams to keep track of how virtual particles carry the various forces between quarks and leptons. x
  • 8
    Particle Accelerators and Detectors
    Want to build your own particle accelerator? You'll need a lot of money, a lot of room, and the information that Professor Carroll shares in this lecture. You'll learn that particle accelerators aren't simply atom smashers." They bring into existence new particles that weren't there before." x
  • 9
    The Large Hadron Collider
    If blacksmithing were like particle physics, the Large Hadron Collider would be the anvil. Seventeen miles around and representing the unprecedented cooperation of scientists worldwide over the course of years, the LHC is a remarkable achievement. Explore its construction, capabilities, and amazing promise for the future of physics. x
  • 10
    Capturing the Higgs Boson
    Looking for a needle in a haystack? Try looking for a never-before-seen particle in the largest machine ever built. With the LHC complete, the search for the Higgs began in earnest, and particle physics combined with probability to find the missing piece in the Standard Model puzzle. Professor Carroll describes both the exciting hunt and the key players in the amazing discovery. x
  • 11
    Beyond the Standard Model of Particle Physics
    Now that the Higgs boson has been found, everything is answered, right? Not quite. Professor Carroll says the properties of the Higgs suggest that something else is at work out there. Moreover, the Higgs boson can be a stepping-stone to our exploration of dark matter, extra dimensions, the asymmetry of matter and antimatter, and a Grand Unified Theory of particle physics. x
  • 12
    Frontiers: Higgs in Space
    The Standard Model explains the forces and molecules that comprise us and everything with which we interact. But even with the Higgs, we can't explain the stuff that makes up 95% of the universe: dark matter and dark energy. In his conclusion, Professor Carroll shines a light on dark matter, its relationship with the Higgs, and the wonderful mysteries still ahead. x

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Your professor

Sean Carroll

About Your Professor

Sean Carroll, Ph.D.
California Institute of Technology
Professor Sean Carroll is a Senior Research Associate in Physics at the California Institute of Technology. He earned his undergraduate degree from Villanova University and his Ph.D. in Astrophysics from Harvard in 1993. Before arriving at Caltech, Professor Carroll taught in the Physics Department and the Enrico Fermi Institute at the University of Chicago, and did postdoctoral research at the Massachusetts Institute of...
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The Higgs Boson and Beyond is rated 4.7 out of 5 by 131.
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Spectacular Presentation! I'm just blown away by Professor Carroll's command of this utterly complex subject and by his ability to describe it with such a smooth, clear, and articulate oral delivery! Furthermore, the animated graphic support provided by TGC is astounding!! No plain old PowerPoint slides here!! I say that as one who regularly made business presentations in my career, and as one who has only scratched the surface of subatomic particle physics. Nevertheless, this course has given me an appreciation of the huge depth at this end of the physics pool! Except for the understanding that we must explore science for whatever we may discover, as mankind always has, I struggle for a reason to delve so far into subatomic physics. Only one value-centric reason comes to my mind: the ultimate ability manipulate gravity. As Professor Carroll makes clear, we're still in the early stages of this subject, in which Einstein's theoretical elegance is sorely missing but which may be just around the next corner!
Date published: 2016-12-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from ProperConcentration;ProfunditiesGalore--EvenInBKG This course does proper concentration of info. It's not so much that a "punchline" is given right away. There are many punchlines (metaphorical analogy for those whose 1st language is English): that is, there are MANY DEEPLY PROFOUND FACTS to know and these are not just about the Higgs. Rather it is that there is substance in this course right from the start. Some courses you can tell that the professor delights in what (s)he WILL say, maybe some 6 to 8 lectures hence. Many speakers (say at your work or in academia) do this too. Mosey on around -- nice and relaxed. Allegedly giving preamble or prefatory material. Maybe even allegedly giving background. Then when it finally comes to the meat of the matter, rush... we're almost out of time. I could muse upon the psychology of why lecturers do the above relaxed waste-your-time slow musings, prefacing and so on, but I won't. By contrast THIS professor and THIS course are 100% MEAT the whole entire way. Sure there is BRIEF talk about the atom -- what it meant to the Greeks and how that was NOT what Chemists did with that word. See? Meat already. In any case, prefatory material is brief. There IS much background, but NONE of that background is mosy-ing around relaxed "I can wait and I'll give them the neato meat maybe in 4 lectures from now". None of that. Meat from the start. NECESSARY background from the start. Meaty background. Profound background. Insightful background. You might have guessed, entirely unlike the Particle Physics course which wasted more than half the lectures -- more than half! They were on nothing. The only other item I am familiar with containing as DEEP and INSIGHTFUL PROFUNDITIES the whole entire way is the little book by Nagel, "Gödel's Proof." Like the Higgs, there is a deep profundity "lurking". But, again, like the Higgs, to appreciate that profundity you need to know where Gödel's theorem "fits into the program". Nagel's book is deep profundity right from the start -- even with there being much background. So too here in this course; even more so, in fact. Succintly put, BACKGROUND HAS PROFUNDITIES GALORE and are MEATY THEMSELVES and are not just the setup needed to get the punchline. Additionally, the experimental side is also presented full of meat too. With all the profundity and meat, I'd say the professor did well in the organization and the presentation. Perhaps not quite perfection (I think a bit more aid to your conceptual chunking would have been advisable), but quite a good presentation. But if you want around 30 species of parsley with your meat, then go to other courses.
Date published: 2016-12-06
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Difficult but very informative This is material which is difficult to understand, but the presentation -- the professor and the visuals --is excellent, and I am left with the feeling that I understand at least a little bit about the importance of this discovery.
Date published: 2016-12-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Higgs boson The course got me beyond electrons and protons and able to understand there are particles even smaller. Do not know what I'll do with the new knowledge but i'll be able to talk about something with my granddaughter who is a physics major.
Date published: 2016-11-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The Higgs Boson and Beyond Sean Carroll does about as good a job as possible in explaining, to interested laymen, what has been going on, and what is going on, at the forefront of particle physics. Plus he is a very engaging lecturer and fun to listen to.
Date published: 2016-11-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Confusing but wonderful The technical content of this course was a little beyond us; however, Dr Carroll's presentation and graphics made the course very enjoyable and instructive. We even learned a few things! We'll be watching some of the lectures again.
Date published: 2016-11-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from This is an appropriate title. Interesting video; good and informational content.
Date published: 2016-10-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The Higgs Boson and Beyond Dr. Carroll is so animated and enthusiastic, he makes the course very interesting, even for a non math/physics person like me, an 80 year-old woman. He makes "the standard model" of particles, their types, spin, and charges understandable. Finding the Higgs boson after postulating it was quite an astounding feat! I found all the lectures fascinating!
Date published: 2016-09-26
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Higgs Boson and Beyond Good lectures, lack of graphics or animated models reduced the effectiveness of the course.
Date published: 2016-09-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from
Date published: 2016-09-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from
Date published: 2016-09-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Higgs Boson and Quantum Field Theory Explained This is a terrific course. Professor Sean Carroll is a great teacher. He speaks clearly and concisely. He is engaged with the students, which is no easy task in a DVD class. He knows his stuff. The visuals are also terrific: extremely good at portraying difficult and complex scientific concepts. The subject material covered some challenging concepts, which made me think really hard. I loved it. If you put in some effort, you will learn some mind blowing physics! I highly recommend this course for anyone who wants to learn something out of the ordinary. I wish every Great Course was this GREAT!
Date published: 2016-09-08
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Very Inside Baseball I'm a Great Courses history guy but occasionally I'll wander into one of the science courses to expand my horizons. Unfortunately every time I do, I'm reminded of why I did so badly in science classes. To me, the stuff is downright boring. I'm not saying the course is bad, I'm saying it's highly technical and I'm the wrong guy to be taking it. I suspect that unless you have a solid base of understanding in particle physics and are truly fascinated by the subject, you're probably the wrong person to be taking this course as well. Sheesh, now I know how that Kaley Cuoco chick on "The Big Bang Theory" feels all the time.
Date published: 2016-08-31
Rated 2 out of 5 by from This course does not bring the hugh complexities of sub atomic physics which have been found in the last 70 years to the level of ordinary understanding . Instead it concentrates of the complex nomenclature in current use.
Date published: 2016-08-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from This is indeed a great course The lecturer is clear an entertaining. He understands that the excitement of science comes from unexpected observations. For a biologist such as myself, this information is tough to understand. I have listened to it twice, and will probably do so again because it is so much fun.
Date published: 2016-08-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent Higgs Course This course was very well done. The professor knows the material very well and presents it in a quite accurate and understandable way. Although there is little or no math in the course, which is necessary for a full understanding, he is still able to present the key ideals in a way that is understandable to a non-physicist. I especially liked his presentation of Feynman diagrams in the 7th lecture.
Date published: 2016-08-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from most exciting scientific dsicovery Sean Caroll is a wonderful speaker and it was fascinating to read about one of the most recent and important scientific discoveries.
Date published: 2016-08-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The Higgs Boson and Beyond My last Freshman Physics was in 1959! Neither the Special Theory of Relativity, nor the General Theory of Relativity were addressed. Field Theory, Particle Physics, Quarks, Bosons, etc. are new to me. The Course was interesting , to learn about "stuff" that I did not know or understand. I will need to review the course again (probably several times). This course "Plowed deep furrows in my knowledge of current Physics." The furrows will need "Disking" to level the "Field." I would recommend this Course to others, with careful Pre-Screening.
Date published: 2016-07-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Mystical Particle of Quantum Physics The Higgs Boson has received much press since it was discovered. However, few, outside of the small cadre of Particle Physics experts, can really tell you much about what it is. For us lay people, it takes a person of the stature and knowledge of Professor Carroll to make this creature come to life. Even though I was a science major in college, I find the whole field of Particle Physics and Quantum Mechanics very hazy at best. However, after listening and watching this course, I feel confident enough to enter into social conversation on the subject. This course is probably not for everyone. The subject matter is diffult to comprehend but Dr Carroll does a masterful job of explaining the Boson, the theory surrounding it and its discovery. I enjoyed the course, learned a lot, and recommend it highly for people interested in becoming conversant in the "God Particle"
Date published: 2016-07-28
Rated 3 out of 5 by from I am sorry but audio only does not do the subject justice. I have returned the item for refund.
Date published: 2016-07-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A lucid and deeply informative presentation A lucid and deeply informative presentation. Probably the best I've encountered from GC. I came away with a fundamental grasp of the significance of the Higgs field as well as a basic understanding of particle physics and quantum field theory. If you are interested in the subject, you could hardly do better than this.
Date published: 2016-07-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent Course Explains well, with no formulas, this sophisticated topic. I am still looking for a good explanation why symmetry is the same as a conservation law. Why is the Higgs Boson breaking a symmetry ?
Date published: 2016-07-20
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Qurks and hypotheses!!! This presentation made an effort to provide a scientific bases, but it was filled to many guesses. It was not helpful for me it might be for someone else?
Date published: 2016-07-19
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Tough Concept The ideas presented were done so clearly but are so at odds with what my mind's eye held that I have had difficulty fitting them into my 'world view'.
Date published: 2016-07-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fascinating overview of the Higgs Boson event It is clear that such a course is far too short to deal with a complex topic like particle physics in detail. Even as a PhD in chemical physics, familiar with quantum mechaniics, etc., there was a lot that went by too fast. Nevertheless, this course does give a fascinating glance at what the big deal is about the Higgs Boson, and outlines the frontiers of physics. I found the teacher to be very enthusiastic and able to do well with a nigh impossible task. I enjoyed it....makes me want to study the subject further!
Date published: 2016-07-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The Last Piece of the Puzzle ? Professor Sean Carroll captures the essence and excitement that went with the discovery of the Higgs boson a bit over 4 years ago. He is a engaging speaker and that alone is worth the price of the course. Indeed, he better be since he occupies the same office and desk that Richard Feynman had at Cal Tech. Like Feynman Mr. Carroll uses many useful analogies in covering the most complicated branch of science, theoretical particle physics. The big question remains whether the $ 9 billion dollar super collider at CERN will discover any more particles that will verify Super Symmetry (SUSY) or send physicists down a totally new path I would recommend this course to anyone who is curious about where we are heading in the future with physics I purchased Dr. Carroll's book The Particle at the End of the Universe seeking more insight into the most significant scientific discovery since relativity . .
Date published: 2016-07-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great purchase Extremely informative. Anyone with a burning curiousity about the latest developments in particle physics should buy this course.
Date published: 2016-07-11
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Thumb's up, good lecture! I have only watched the first disk (of two.) But I watched it in one go because the way the presenter built the suspense, I couldn't turn it off. I wanted to follow the path he was taking me on to the conclusion. Today I will watch the second disk, probably again, right through. I was a little surprised that he has few visuals. We follow the narrative of the physicists who went on to be given Nobel prizes for their work developing or expanding the Standard Model of particle physics. But having seen the traveling "Collider" show, I expected something along those lines, with lots of visual appeal. This really is just lecture. Not a criticism - I know this isn't a NOVA show, and it is even more acceptable because it is not overly long.
Date published: 2016-07-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The Higgs Boson For those similar to me who need time to process complex ideas and relatively unfamiliar information, both DVD and booklet are essential as a pair. This is a very interesting field of science and it is well presented by Professor Carroll..
Date published: 2016-07-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great, Clear, Mystical Sean Carroll does a great job explaining the physics behind the search for the higgs Boson. The presentation is very glitzy compared to his usual work. He always gives a clear, non-mathematical explanation for these very abstract physics concepts. His presentation is so slick you know that he really knows his physics and has given this presentation many times. I've seen all of his lectures and enjoyed them all. Maybe soon a re-run on dark matter?
Date published: 2016-07-10
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