At a Particle Physics Masterclass recently students in 6.1 worked on real CERN data to isolate potentially interesting events which they identified and then logged. By measuring the energy of the known particles produced they were able to see direct evidence of heavy neutral particles (you can see a picture of Jade Low and Christopher Langton with their graph which shows a nice peak at the energies associated with the Z-boson).
All the student data at Birmingham was collected together and this helped to confirm our results. We could also begin to see some evidence for the presence of the Higgs Boson – although this definitely required more data! In the afternoon there was a live video conference with two particle physicists at CERN and other students around Europe that were taking part in the same Masterclass (in Lecce, Zaragoza, Geneva and Slovakia).
At the masterclass, we got to listen to introductory talks on particle physics and the LHC, do some data analysis on a computer programme, talk to some of the experts in the field and live video to CERN. I personally really enjoyed the hands-on computing activity using the HYPATIA software.
It took time to learn all the procedures at first but once you get used to it, you can quickly identify footprints of heavy neutral particles. It’s very nice to put your knowledge into context. I think It made us feel like what we learn in A Level are not just factual and theoretical things but gave us an idea of how they are derived or applied in practice and therefore help us to appreciate what we are learning more.
Anna Bui 6.1