Higgs Boson, the Musical: CERN Data Turned into Melody

When researchers at CERN announced the dis­cov­ery of the Hig­gs Boson this sum­mer, Domeni­co Vic­i­nan­za, a pro­fes­sion­al com­pos­er and par­ti­cle physi­cist at DANTE (Deliv­ery of Advanced Net­work Tech­nol­o­gy to Europe) took the Hig­gs research data and turned it into a melody. He explained how he did it to PRI’s The World:

In order to take a sub­atom­ic par­ti­cle like the Hig­gs Boson and con­vert it into a melody, to notes, what we do is basi­cal­ly take the data and asso­ciate with each one of the numer­ic val­ues a sin­gle note on a score. Melody is fol­low­ing basi­cal­ly exact­ly the same behav­ior the sci­en­tif­ic data is show­ing. So when the piano starts play­ing, you can hear some real­ly real­ly high pitched notes.… They are the sig­na­ture of the Hig­gs Boson melody and they are cor­re­spond­ing to a peak in the sci­en­tif­ic draft research has shown at CERN. The actu­al data points are only the one played by the piano at the begin­ning and then played by piano and marim­ba in the sec­ond rep­e­ti­tion. So the marim­ba was play­ing the low­er notes and the piano was play­ing the high­er notes. So it sounds like a Cuban Habanera but this is clas­si­cal insi­d­ence.… I thor­ough­ly believe that sci­ence can offer musi­cians a won­der­ful way to look for inter­est­ing melodies, inter­est­ing har­monies, inter­est­ing son­ic phe­nom­e­na. They can be tak­en and be used by com­posers to cre­ate some real enter­tain­ment.

Back in 2009, Vic­i­nan­za orig­i­nal­ly caught our atten­tion when he and the ‘Lost Sounds Orches­tra’ gave a unique per­for­mance, play­ing ancient instru­ments live in Stock­holm while the audi­ence watched dancers per­form some 7,000 miles away in Kuala Lumpur on an ultra-fast dis­play screen. You can catch scenes from that per­for­mance right here.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

The Hig­gs Boson and Its Dis­cov­ery Explained with Ani­ma­tion

Demys­ti­fy­ing the Hig­gs Boson with Leonard Susskind, the Father of String The­o­ry

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