On Saturday March 15, 2008, students from Mills Godwin High School
(Richmond, VA) came to Hampton University with their physics teacher,
Michael Fetsko, to participate in a Particle Physics Masterclass.
The Masterclass is a one-day event in which
students analyze real particle physics data, with some advice
from particle physicists, who are there to help students understand
and interpret the data. The students at Hampton U worked
in parallel with students in Boston and Houston and video conferenced
with them to discuss and combine results. This was part of
a busy two-and-a-half weeks during which thousands of students
internationally -- over 150 from the US alone -- did the same thing.
At Hampton University, the Mills Godwin students analyzed
almost 1000 particle physics events (like the one pictured) from the
Delphi detector at the
Large Electron-Positron (LEP) collider. LEP was the accelerator that
formerly occupied the tunnel in which the new
Large Hadron Collider (LHC)
is being constructed. Understanding the results from LEP will help
us understand the new physics for which we will search with the detectors
at the LHC.
At Hampton University, faculty members Dr. Vassilis Vassilikopoulos
and Dr. Kenneth McFarlane worked with the Mills Godwin students.
At the end of the day, Mr. Fetsko and his students shared
their results and their questions in a videconference with students in Houston and Boston. .
LHC Postings is a blog on the COSM webserver, for students
to write about particle physics.
For three days, including the Saturday at Hampton, students live-blogged
their Masterclasses, adding comments such as:
"Right now [we] are at Hampton University getting a quick
review of the Standard Model by Dr. Vassillis Vassilikopolous,
who is very nice and very informative! All of the computers are
set up (super nice computers) for us to start looking at events!"
"Lunch is just ending, and we are getting ready
to start analyzing particle events. We have already learned a lot
about the standard model and interesting new theories, so I can't wait
to see what else we can learn. Actually, during lunch we got to have
some really cool conversations about CERN and its possibilities
thanks to Dr. McFarlane."
"We had a very exciting day as we learnt about the
Standard Model and had presentations on different topics pertaining to
particle physics which were pretty amazing."
"It is really cool to be around college professors."
"I guess one thing I learnt was that science is a collabaorative process
and interacting with other sites across the country and sharing the data
helped us to understand our statistical differences and similarities."
The March 15 Masterclass was the result of the efforts of many
people but it is only the beginning. Next year, the Masterclass is planned
to expand in the US, the work on blogs will intensify, and activity
surrounding the start-up of the LHC will present new challenges and
opportunities. Most of all, this is a beginning for the next generation
of particle physicists, some of who may have been sharing pizza
with Dr. Vassilikopoulos and Dr. McFarlane on March 15. It is these
young people who will one day analyze data from the LHC to create
masterworks of the new physics.
To 'see' into the subatomic world, we need
a machine (LEP) and a detector (Delphi), just as you need light (from the
Sun or a light bulb) and your eye (the detector) to see the larger world.
Delphi and LEP ceased operation in the year 2000 to make way for