On 14th March, Year 12 Physics students visited the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in Oxfordshire for a Particle Physics Masterclass. The Campus houses some of the most important and expensive science facilities in the country, where researchers from universities and scientific companies across the UK and around the world come to carry out their experiments. Facilities on the site include Particle Physics, Chemistry and Biology imaging and space engineering, amongst many others, although much of the work is based around using particle accelerators and immensely powerful lasers.
The students had a tour around the ISIS Neutron source which facilitates experiments which cannot be done anywhere else in world – the immense scale of this site proved awe-inspiring. Talks included a history of particle accelerators and the basics of Particle Physics, a description of the construction and ongoing work at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) – the largest particle accelerator in the world – in France and Switzerland, from workers who contributed to the hunt for the Higgs Boson, and a guide to where small particle accelerators are essential to modern life, with applications in medicine, engineering and computer chip production. The students were also given a task to spot fundamental particles using actual LHC data including trying to find the Higgs Boson.
The students all agreed that the day was informative and inspiring, and well worth the early start and late return!