Physicists at the Large Hadron Collider would like your help in studying the Higgs Boson. It' s true that they found the Higgs boson-which is responsible for giving all particles their mass-nearly two years ago, but its exact behavior is still mysterious. Now, the scientists are asking coders to develop algorithms that can reveal the Higgs' properties. The Higgs Boson Machine Learning Challenge will reward successful coders with up to $ 7,000 in actual money. But it' s hard to put a price on the chance to be involved in one of the biggest scientific discoveries of the decade. Interested? Here' s the situation. At the LHC, protons are smashed together at colossal energies, creating a chaotic shower of particles. Physicists have to hunt through the noisy mess of other particles to see the Higgs' weak decay signal. They already have code that can pull out the Higgs signal from this noise (in fact, researchers at the Higgs-hunting ATLAS experiment didn't actually see the enigmatic particle in their detector, simply its decay signal). But the scientists think the public might be able to help them get a sharper signal and figure out what the Higgs is really like.
The contest started up about a week ago and already has nearly 200 participants. But the final prizes won't be awarded until September, so there's plenty of time for interested budding scientists to get involved.