UCL Particle Physics Masterclass

Posted on: 26/03/2024

UCL Physics MasterclassOn Tuesday 26th March, Hatch End High School students had the fantastic opportunity to attend a masterclass on Particle Physics at University College London.

Below, Year 12 students Sidhant and Vranda tell us more about this event:



This subject was entirely new to us, making it a formidable challenge to grasp what is considered one of the most complex areas of modern Physics.

The session began with an introduction by Dr. Martywood, a post-doctoral scientist working with the ATLAS project at CERN, who began with providing us a historical overview of the evolution of Particle Physics, from the Democritus-Leucippus theory of Atomon in the 5th Century BC, to the discovery of the Higgs Boson in 2012.

Dr. Martywood humorously described Particle Physics as essentially 'men colliding rocks to find the smallest possible rock.' He introduced us to the basic elementary particles, such as Quarks and Leptons, and discussed upcoming experiments at CERN, including proton-proton collisions in an RF Cavity.

As we took our break, Dr. Martywood left us with intriguing questions to ponder: What is dark energy? What is dark matter? And will we ever uncover the unknowns of the universe

After the break, each pair of students were given an individual data set which they would be analysing together using a piece of software called ATLAS. The data set indicated areas of the collider, where energy has been recorded, as well as the charge, etc, which we used to attempt to identify what particle these signatures have come from.

After this, we had a live video zoom session with sessions from other parts of the world, such as France, as well as some physicists who work at CERN! I as well as one other student volunteered to answer a question. My question was about the difference in the ratio found at CERN, and the ratio found in sessions that day, to which I spoke about the larger uncertainty with smaller data sets.

Then we were given the opportunity to ask questions to the scientists, to which they gave very insightful responses, allowing us a deeper understanding into what they do at the CERN Hadron Collider.  

Overall, we found it a really interesting experience and learnt a lot from the hands on analysing we were doing, as it left us to spot the patterns in data and draw conclusions and expanded our Physics knowledge! Thank you to Dr Mark Fuller for inviting Hatch End High School students to this event.

Article by Sidhant P and Vranda R, Year 12

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