In March of last year, scientists working with the Large Hadron Collider at the European Organization for Nuclear Research in Geneva, Switzerland identified the Higgs boson, the last elusive particle in the Standard Model of physics. The Higgs particle, said Northeastern assistant professor of physics Toyoko Orimoto, one of the scientists on the team, can be used to explain how elementary particles acquire mass. “Before the discovery of the Higgs boson, the Standard Model was like a puzzle with one piece missing,” she said, “and you kind of know what that piece will look like.”
Orimoto hopes the Large Hadron Collider will be able to address many more unanswered questions in physics. “The Higgs particle is interesting,” she said, “but what really captures my imagination is thinking about possibilities beyond the Standard Model.”
Backed by an Early Career Award from the Department of Energy, Orimoto hopes to begin exploring those other possibilities.
For her, the two biggest questions still left unanswered by the Standard Model are gravity and dark matter. “Dark matter and dark energy make up more than 95 percent of the universe, and yet the Standard Model doesn’t address them,” she said.