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Northeastern Researchers Play Key Role in DZero International Physics Research Collaboration

ZZ diboson production observed for first time at Tevatron

(Pictured – The Fermilab accelerator complex in Batavia, IL. Photo courtesy of Fermilab.)

Boston – August 4, 2008 – Darien Wood, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Physics at Northeastern University, and other researchers from Northeastern have played integral roles in the recent discovery of the production of pairs of Z bosons, or ZZ dibosons, at the Tevatron particle accelerator. As the co-leader of the DZero project, Wood led a team of scientists who recently announced the observation of previously unobservable ZZ diboson particles. The properties of the ZZ diboson make its discovery a necessary precursor to determining whether the Higgs boson does indeed exist. The Higgs boson is the only hypothetical particle in the Standard Model of particle physics that has not yet been observed.

DZero is an international collaboration of 600 scientists from 90 institutions in 18 countries who conduct physics research at Tevatron, currently the world’s highest energy particle accelerator. The experiments explore matter by creating an environment where they can observe interactions of protons and antiprotons, which they hope will lead to a better understanding of the fundamentals of matter and our universe. Tevatron is located in Batavia, IL at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, a United States Department of Energy laboratory.

The scientists set out to examine particle collisions at high energies to see what interactions occur. The scientists developed tools to detect the presence of ZZ dibosons, an extremely rare occurrence, from their decays into electrons, muons, and neutrinos. Despite being difficult to detect, the team was able to observe the ZZ dibosons in three proton-antiproton collisions out of more than 200 trillion.

The final analysis, accomplished by a team of 11 physicists – five of whom are from Northeastern – brought this result to its completion. In addition to Prof. Wood, the Northeastern team included Associate Professor Emanuela Barberis, Ph.D., Postdoctoral research associates Gianluca Cerminara, Ph.D., and Gavin Hesketh, Ph.D., and graduate student Gabriel Facini, all in the physics department. The other schools involved with the final analysis included SUNY – Stony Brook, the University of Manchester, SUNY – Buffalo and the Institute of High Energy Physics, Russia.

“This result is very exciting and it is one of the last stepping stones on the route to possible detection of the elusive Higgs boson,” said Wood.

For more information about Northeastern’s role in the ZZ diboson observation, please contact Jenny Eriksen at (617) 373-2802 or via email at

About Northeastern

Founded in 1898, Northeastern University is a private research university located in the heart of Boston. Northeastern is a leader in interdisciplinary research, urban engagement, and the integration of classroom learning with real-world experience. The university’s distinctive cooperative education program, where students alternate semesters of full-time study with semesters of paid work in fields relevant to their professional interests and major, is one of the largest and most innovative in the world. The University offers a comprehensive range of undergraduate and graduate programs leading to degrees through the doctorate in six undergraduate colleges, eight graduate schools, and two part-time divisions. For more information, please visit