Walter Hopkins is a graduate student working with Professor Julia Thom on identifying and measuring the rate of decays of the Bs meson into two oppositely charged muons at the Collider Detector at Fermilab (CDF). The CDF detector identifies and measures the momentum and energy of the products of proton and anti-proton collisions at the Tevatron, a powerful accelerator at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Illinois. Until the LHC (Large Hadron Collider) at CERN is completely operational, the Tevatron will continue to be the highest energy collider in the world. Hundreds of collaborators from many countries and institutions worked together to build the CDF detector, and are now taking data and analyzing it.
Bs mesons are made up of a bottom and a strange quark, which makes them very heavy- the Tevatron is currently the only collider with a Center of Mass energy high enough to produce them. The measurement of Bs decays into oppositely charged muons is important because in New Physics theories, such as Supersymmetric theories, the number of these decays is enhanced, compared to what we expect in the Standard Model of Particle Physics. A measurement of a rate that is higher than expected would be a very exciting discovery, and a first sign for New Physics beyond the Standard Model.