• Question: What discoveries have led up to your current Work?

    Asked by bump354bat to Savannah on 17 Jun 2019.
    • Photo: Savannah Clawson

      Savannah Clawson answered on 17 Jun 2019:

      So many! All science builds on the work of people before you, no matter what the subject is. In my job, I work with particles so the discoveries of the particles we know about today all contribute to the work I do now. The first fundamental particle to be discovered was the electron, discovered in 1897. After the nucleus of the atom was discovered in 1911 by Ernest Rutherford (here at the University of Manchester!), the nucleus of the element hydrogen was discovered to be a single particle called a proton that has a positive electric charge. In 1932 the neutron was discovered. A neutron is very similar to a proton except that it has no electric charge. All atoms are made from protons, neutrons and electrons.
      Lots of work by famous scientists such as Albert Einstein and Paul Dirac led to the discovery of new particles in the early 1900s such as the neutrino and the photon, which both have no electric charge. This is around the time when the theory of quantum mechanics was being developed which describes a lot of the theory behind particle physics.
      One of the most recent discoveries in particle physics was the discovery of the Higgs Boson at CERN in 2012 – this particle was predicted to exist about 40 years before it was discovered so this was a really exciting thing!