Physicists simulate sounds of the Higgs boson (w/ Video)

June 23, 2010 by Lisa Zyga weblog
You can listen to the sounds of different particles at

( -- If particle physicists ever find the Higgs boson, they might be hearing its signature rather than - or in addition to - seeing it. The different sounds that particles make can give physicists another way to analyze their data, explains a team of physicists working on data sonification, which is the process of converting data into sounds. Partly for research and partly for public awareness, the scientists have simulated the sounds that the Higgs boson and other subatomic particles might make at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC).

"When you are hearing what the sonifications do you really are hearing the data,” said Archer Endrich, a composer and software engineer working on the project. “It's true to the data, and it's telling you something about the data that you couldn't know in any other way.”

Some of the data comes from Atlas, one of six detectors at the LHC. Atlas uses a calorimeter to measure the energy of the particles that collide inside of it. The calorimeter consists of seven concentric layers, each of which can be represented by a note. The note’s volume and pitch depend on the amount of energy deposited in that layer and its location in the layer, respectively. As physicist Lily Asquith explained, large amounts of energy make louder sounds than small amounts, while energy closer to an observer will have a higher pitch than energy located further away.

One of several tracks available at the LHCsound website, the "Higgs Boson Simple" represents the sounds of an emerging and decaying Higgs boson. Credit: LHCsound.

Although the project may give a new tool to analyze their data, the main goal is to bring attention to the beauty in science, helping promote public awareness of science exploration. You can listen to sounds of the and other particles at the project’s website. The LHCsounds team, led by Asquith, is also working on developing cellphone ringtones and plans to host a public performance of the sounds performed by musicians from its scientific community. Musicians from around the world are also working with the sounds to incorporate them into compositions.

"We can hear clear structures in the sound, almost as if they had been composed,” said Richard Dobson, a composer involved with the project. “They seem to tell a little story all to themselves. They're so dynamic and shifting all the time, it does like a lot of the music that you hear in contemporary composition. You feel closer to the mystery of Nature which I think a lot of scientists do when they get deep into these matters.”

To listen to more sounds of the LHC, visit

Explore further: Michigan integral to world's largest physics experiment

More information: via: BBC News

Related Stories

Michigan integral to world's largest physics experiment

September 5, 2008

After 20 years of construction, a machine that could either verify or nullify the prevailing theory of particle physics is about to begin its mission. CERN's epic Large Hadron Collider (LHC) project currently involves 25 ...

The hunt for the Higgs steps up a gear

August 28, 2008

The hunt for the Higgs boson, the most highly sought-after particle in physics, received a boost this month with the release of two new results from the Tevatron particle collider at the US Department of Energy's Fermilab ...

ILC Physics: The Analysis Has Already Begun

February 12, 2007

For the proposed International Linear Collider, physicists are trying to both design the most precise calorimeter ever and still be able to afford it. A calorimeter measures the energy of particles in a detector, and is typically ...

Is the Vacuum Empty? -- the Higgs Field and the Dark Energy

May 10, 2007

The problems in understanding the true nature of the “vacuum” of space were discussed by theoretical physicist Alvaro de Rújula from CERN (the European Council for Nuclear Research) in Geneva, Switzerland, and a professor ...

Recommended for you

Spider-web 'labyrinths' may help reduce noise pollution

October 17, 2017

(—Researchers have demonstrated that the geometry of a natural spider web can be used to design new structures that address one of the biggest challenges in sound control: reducing low-frequency noise, which is ...

A miniature laser-like device for surface plasmons

October 17, 2017

Researchers at ETH Zurich have developed a miniature device capable of producing laser-like beams of a particular kind of electromagnetic wave called a surface plasmon. Surface plasmons can be focused much more tightly than ...


Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

4.2 / 5 (5) Jun 23, 2010
This is illusory correlation with music using arbitrary tones. How is that science?
5 / 5 (2) Jun 23, 2010
It reminds me of a cat walking on my synthesizer:)
not rated yet Jun 24, 2010
This is illusory correlation with music using arbitrary tones. How is that science?

This is about getting people interested in science. And the simulated sounds is a form of science in itself.
1 / 5 (1) Jun 26, 2010
What a wonderful extension of vocabulary. I wonder how many paths Nature chooses, to evolve a geometry (our hearing)that mimics the math (more vocabulary!)of Fourier Analysis. Almost, as if we are defining ourselves, regardless, or even despite measure. lol

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.