The Higgs Boson and Beyond

Rated 5 out of 5 by from Is the Standard Model of particle physics complete I always enjoy Sean Carroll's courses and lectures. He is a great teacher. So, I was not disappointed with this course on the Higgs Boson. It was a wonderful overview. I noticed that the other reviewers had only only one general disappointment with the course: they feel that they were not sufficiently motivated as to why we needed the Higgs boson in the Standard Model. That is my only criticism, too. I understand why, but then I am a particle physicist, but it wouldn't have hurt for Prof. Carroll to have included a few more words at the beginning to motivate the listener why the Higgs is so important, and even that once having found it, the Standard Model is still not complete. Perhaps, he could have asked in the introduction, if all existence can be described by one field or another and their influence can be felt by other particles, the Standard Model particles have no real physical extent in space, so exactly what is "mass" then? Anyway, Prof. Carroll did a great job with the subject overall.
Date published: 2021-04-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great course! I've sat through MANY post-school presentations/lectures, both remotely, and in-person. Dr. Carroll is a VERY engaging presenter, his lectures are entertaining, and the professional graphics keep your attention. (Think about presenters that droned on-and-on, thinking they're witty, with a hand-scribbled whiteboard as their only supportive information.) I thought this would be a "lay-person's" level of the Higgs. I planned on browsing the web, while Dr. Carroll's first several lectures inched through basic Physics. I was wrong. Dr. Carroll gave an Executive Summary in Lecture #1, in keeping with peer presentations, then proceeded to have background and supporting lectures, follow on. I had to put my computer down, in order to pay attention. This doesn't mean this course is only for intermediate/advanced Physics people! I've seen several comments about how laypeople were left behind. I'm sorry to see that. His approach seems to be well-suited for all disciplines. I'm going to reply on several of their threads. "The Great Courses Plus" courses have several benefits: 1) The ability to pause/rewind the lecture; 2) A "Course Guidebook" that has materials that can be referenced in later discussions (Re: "Particle Zoo"); 3) I've got an "intermediate" understanding of Physics, but I still needed to close my computer, and pay attention to Dr. Carroll's presentation. (Trust me, this is new to me. I used to ignore ANY professor's first several lectures. Unfortunately, this correlates to my overall GPA...).
Date published: 2021-03-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Challenging Ideas, Well Presented I'd heard/read about the Higgs particle and wanted to know more about it. I viewed this course from a double perspective: 1) as a curious learner with a background in physical chemistry dating back to the 1960's, and 2) as a (retired) teacher of high-school chemistry and physics. As a curious learner, Prof. Carroll's lectures provided far more than I had expected. He provides a step-by-step overview of the ideas needed to assemble an understanding of what the Higgs is about, including quantum fields, symmetry, and the standard model of elementary particles. I especially appreciate that he describes the experiments and the equipment that led to our present knowledge. As a retired teacher, I wonder who would benefit from this course. I think you have to have some background in these ideas in order to follow the presentation. I don't think my average high school students would understand the course. So would I recommend it to someone who never studied physical science beyond high school level? It depends. If you're looking for a general sense of how much knowledge and experience went into the discovery of the Higgs, yes, enjoy. But I think it helps to be comfortable reading graphs and thinking in terms of intangibles. By the way, the lectures are very well supported by graphics and other visual effects. Prof. Carroll is an excellent teacher, but it helps if you are somewhat prepared through introductory studies.
Date published: 2021-02-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Finally someone who actually is a teacher and not Finally someone who actually is a teacher and not a storyteller. Too often this kind of courses is just a retelling of the discoveries, and in the case of quantum physics most often making a big deal about how strange something is. In some cases I even noticed that they even make the mistake he is describing in the course regarding relativistic mass and mass. In this course his focus is instead on trying to teach and explain. Which is what all courses in science actually should be about, but my guess is that most "storytellers" doesn't really know what they talk about and therefore can't explain it. The subject is very complex and the level is advanced, which means a lot of rewatching and contemplating. But I don't think that there is any need for prior knowledge other than a basic understanding that most people have. That said, the course isn't for everyone and if you don't want to put in any effort of your own this is not for you.
Date published: 2020-11-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Making the Complex Understandable I have enjoyed many of the Great Courses. But, none of them were as engaging and informative as this one. More like this, please.
Date published: 2020-10-26
Rated 1 out of 5 by from My only disappointment. I have purchased several of you courses and have been satisfied or very satisfied. But this latest one is very frustrating. THE HIGGS BOSON AND BEYOND assumes way too much background knowledge. It’s really frustrating and disappointing. Do you allow exchanges or returns?
Date published: 2020-10-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great challenging course I have just bought the course, and It is fascinating me the way the course was performed. The information given was very challenging and enlighten. I highly recommended.
Date published: 2020-08-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Dr Carroll is a great instructor I have followed Professor Carroll in books and on several Great Courses and I am never disappointed. He brings in new information that others leave out because they want to make complex science accessible to the layman. Dr Carroll can explain quantum field theory clearly without dumbing down. Very well done.
Date published: 2020-07-09
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The Higgs Boson and Beyond
Course Trailer
The Importance of the Higgs Boson
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.

33 min
Quantum Field Theory
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.

32 min
Atoms to Particles
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.

31 min
The Power of Symmetry
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.

31 min
The Higgs Field
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.

33 min
Mass and Energy
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.

31 min
Colliding Particles
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.

31 min
Particle Accelerators and Detectors
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.

32 min
The Large Hadron Collider
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.

32 min
Capturing the Higgs Boson
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.

31 min
Beyond the Standard Model of Particle Physics
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.

32 min
Frontiers-Higgs in Space
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.

34 min
Sean Carroll

We need to push on our understanding of cosmology, particle physics, gravity, not to mention how complexity and entropy evolve through time, and eventually you'll be able to really understand what our theories predict.


Harvard University


California Institute of Technology

About Sean Carroll

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 Technology and at the Institute for Theoretical Physics at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Professor Carroll is the author of Spacetime and Geometry: An Introduction to General Relativity, published in 2003. He has taught more than 200 scientific seminars and colloquia and given more than 50 educational and popular talks. In addition, he has written for numerous publications including Nature, New Scientist, The American Scientist, and Physics Today. Professor Carroll has received research grants from NASA, the U.S. Department of Energy, and the National Science Foundation, as well as fellowships from the Sloan and Packard foundations. He has been the Malmstrom Lecturer at Hamline University, the Resnick Lecturer at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and a National Science Foundation Distinguished Lecturer. While at MIT, Carroll won the Graduate Student Council Teaching Award for his course on general relativity. In 2006 he received the Arts and Sciences Alumni Medallion from Villanova University.

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