Trinity hosts particle physics masterclass

Trinity hosted a masterclass in particle physics this week to open the eyes and minds of secondary school students to real research in the field.

Scientists from Trinity and CERN, the world’s largest particle physics laboratory, introduced the students to the tiniest building blocks of the universe and to the accelerators and detectors that probe these mysterious particles. Later on, the students analysed real data from the CMS experiment at CERN´s Large Hadron Collider (LHC).

Particle physics is one of the most important emerging fields in science. The discovery of the Higgs boson at the LHC in 2012 led to large public interest in understanding particle physics.

Part of the large hadron collider. Image credit: CERN-PHOTO-201802-030.

The basic idea of the Masterclass programme is to let students work as much as possible like real scientists. Four experiments – ATLAS, CMS, ALICE, and LHCb – made data available for educational use within the programme.

The Masterclass at Trinity was part of the annual International Masterclasses programme, which sees scientists from over 200 universities and laboratories host Masterclasses at their home institutions. This year they are organised in more than 50 countries worldwide.

International Masterclasses are organised by the International Particle Physics Outreach Group (IPPOG) – an independent group of outreach representatives from countries involved in the research at CERN and other leading research laboratories. The group’s goal is to make particle physics more accessible to the public.

Hitachi Assistant Professor in Trinity’s School of Mathematics, Marina Krstic Marinkovic, was the main organiser. She said:

At the end of the Masterclass, students connected via videoconference with physicists at CERN and other student peers from Bulgaria, Croatia, Finland and Turkey, to discuss their results.

ATLAS physicist from CERN, Dr Jelena Jovicevic added: “In our collaboration there are thousands of scientists across the world working on the same experiment. This requires constant communication via videoconferencing. Students explored this real scientific working environment in the Masterclass.”