John F. Gunion & Radovan
Dermisek talk with ScienceWatch.com and answer a
few questions about this month's Fast Moving Front in the
field of Physics.
Article: Escaping the large fine-tuning and little
hierarchy problems in the next to minimal supersymmetric
model and h-> aa Decays
Journal: PHYS REV LETT, 95 (4): art. no.-041801 JUL 22
Addresses: Univ Calif Davis, Dept Phys, Davis, CA 95616
Univ Calif Davis, Dept Phys, Davis, CA 95616 USA.
Why do you think your paper
is so highly cited?
It was a very important new idea regarding the Higgs boson (the particle
associated with the mechanism by which the most elementary particles
acquire their mass).
Does it describe a new discovery, methodology, or
synthesis of knowledge?
It was a new idea that has ignited a whole stream of papers. If correct, it
would have dramatic implications.
Would you summarize the significance of your paper in
In the paper, we pointed out that the properties of the hypothesized Higgs
Boson (sometimes referred to as the "God Particle"), an as-yet-undiscovered
particle associated with the mechanism by which the most-elementary
particles acquire mass, are very sensitive to other new-particle sectors.
In particular, the very simplest extension (called the "Next-to-Minimal
Supersymmetric Model" or NMSSM) of the previously most-favored model (the
"Minimal Supersymmetric Model" or MSSM) for physics beyond the well-known
Standard Model resolves all of the problems associated with the MSSM.
working on a summary paper for
Annual Reviews of Nuclear
Science that summarizes
all the ideas/theories which
are currently most
It does so by completely changing the way in which the unstable Higgs boson
decays to other particles. As a result, the search for the Higgs boson at
existing and future colliders (in particular the nearly-completed Large
Hadron Collider at CERN) must be performed in a completely unexpected
manner. Furthermore, the most preferred mass for the Higgs boson (100 times
the proton mass) which has been experimentally ruled out by results from
existing colliders in the case of the MSSM theory, is entirely consistent
with experimental limits in the context of the NMSSM theory.
How did you become involved in this research and were
any particular problems encountered along the way?
Jack Gunion: "The physics of Higgs bosons is an area that I have been
working in for 25 years. As the problems of the MSSM (see above) became
increasingly apparent, I was searching for a better theory and realized
that one (the NMSSM) that I and collaborators had developed about ten years
ago was the perfect possibility. Detailed work was required to show that it
really was quite an ideal theory."
Where do you see your research leading in the
Discovery of the Higgs boson would represent a huge breakthrough in our
understanding of Physics beyond the Standard Model. The new model means
that the search for the Higgs must be carried out in ways that differ
dramatically from those considered to date. This means that theorists and
experimentalists must work together to develop the necessary techniques for
allowing discovery in the unexpected "channels" (i.e., the states produced
in high-energy collisions at the Large Hadron Collider) in which the Higgs
boson would appear with greatest frequency.
One of the major directions of my ongoing research is to develop these
techniques and to further explore the implications of the NMSSM theory. I
am also looking at other models that might be as attractive as the NMSSM.
We are working on a summary paper for Annual Reviews of Nuclear
Science that summarizes all the ideas/theories which are currently
Do you foresee any social or political implications for
Discovery that the Higgs boson is as predicted in the NMSSM theory would
dramatically impact our understanding of the physical laws that govern our
universe. It is difficult to know if and when this kind of increased
understanding will impact the world in a practical way. History has shown
that increased understanding ultimately has dramatic technological impacts,
either directly or through spin-offs.
John F. Gunion, Ph.D.
Department of Physics
University of California
Radovan Dermisek, Ph.D.
Institute for Advanced Studies
Princeton, NJ, USA
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