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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
129 Reviews
90% of reviewers would recommend this series
Course No. 1205
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  • 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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Reviews

The Higgs Boson and Beyond is rated 4.7 out of 5 by 129.
Rated 4 out of 5 by from I enjoyed the course, but it is hard to visualize some of the concepts. Even after the course, I am skeptical of the whole Higgs field, a uniform field throughout the whole universe, where the energy in a space the size of a ping-pong ball has as much energy as the mass of the earth. My math skills aren't good enough to look at the equations, but my common sense tells me something is still missing from the Standard Model of Particle physics.
Date published: 2017-03-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Mind boggling. Great follow-up to Particle Physics for non Physicists. Professor Carroll is very enjoyable to listen to and really knows his stuff. Enjoyed it immensely.
Date published: 2017-03-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Perfect! Exactly what I hoped for! This is one of my favorite Great Courses. I finished it with a sense of awe, lots of new knowledge, and an excitement for physics! The "promise" of the course was really delivered upon. I feel like Professor Carroll struck a perfect balance between not dumbing things down but not leaving lay-people behind. I'm definitely a lay-person when it comes to physics; I've read a couple articles online and watched the TV series Cosmos. But I feel like I really got the what, why, and how of the Higgs boson, its history, its discovery, and its significance. The pace, presentation, and professor's obvious love for his subject was beautiful...never a dull moment! My only complaint is that I didn't leave with a very solid understanding of all the "other particles." This is of course all about the Higgs, but other particles play a large role in understanding the subject as a whole. Even though it was covered in a lecture, I have no idea what W bosons, charm quarks, or neutrinos are or what the differences between them are. I don't know if it was because it was glossed over or whether it could be more intuitively taught. Either way, I still enjoyed the course and "got" most of it. As a note: this was the first Great Course I've done via video. I'm really glad I did. The visual references were a little sparse, but necessary and helpful for me!
Date published: 2017-02-17
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Not Enough Lectures Too much material in first six lectures; makes it seem disorganized.
Date published: 2017-01-29
Rated 4 out of 5 by from
Date published: 2017-01-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Highly Recommended The content and presentation are excellent. Carroll starts with the very basics needed to get us up to speed and then walks us through the physics we need to know to understand what the Higgs is and how they found it. Besides the simple fact that he knows the subject matter inside-out and is a very good speaker, I especially appreciated two things about his presentation: He very liberally acknowledged all those people who came before him and who contributed to the development of the physics that led to the Higgs prediction and discovery. He also devoted time to the engineering side of the discovery, pointing out and describing what it took to build the machine that made the actual discovery. Highly recommended.
Date published: 2017-01-08
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
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