• Question: what do u work on

    Asked by ole to Savannah, Philippe, Lucy, Joanna, Harrison, Edoardo on 13 Jun 2019.
    • Photo: Savannah Clawson

      Savannah Clawson answered on 13 Jun 2019:


      I study particle physics which is the study of the most fundamental building blocks of our Universe. In particular, I work for the ATLAS detector at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC). At the LHC, we smash particles together at really high energies to see what will happen and to test whether our theories agree with experiment. I am looking at data from ATLAS to look for rare processes where particles of light (called photons) smash together to produce new particles. We do this because we are trying to break our current best theory of particle physics – called the Standard Model. You might wonder why we are trying to break it – it’s because finding somewhere that it goes wrong is exciting because this opens up doors to brand new physics! New theories of particle physics are (not very inventively) called “Beyond the Standard Model” theories and a lot of them also make predictions that we can test in experiments. So far, we haven’t found evidence that strongly agrees with any of them but this doesn’t stop us trying!

    • Photo: Harrison Prosper

      Harrison Prosper answered on 14 Jun 2019:


      I study what happens when protons collide at very high energy. Why, you might ask? Well, because I want to know whether there are simpler rules than the ones we know that govern how Nature works. I’d like to know, for example, if the particles called quarks are really the final story or whether they are themselves made up to other entities. I would love to discover that all of the particles we currently think are fundamental are all made up of smaller, simpler, stuff. Even though I helped to discover the Higgs boson in 2012, and our current understanding suggests that it, or rather something called the Higgs field, is the thing that causes particles to have mass, I would be delighted if we showed that we’re wrong about the Higgs field. I would love that all the basic stuff in Nature is has zero mass and that all the mass in the Universe arises from Einstein’s amazing formula m = E / c^2. This is almost the case: 99% of the mass of your body has nothing to do with the Higgs field; 99% of your mass is due to m = E/c^2, where E is the energy trapped inside the protons and neutrons. It would be wonderful it turned out to be 100%!

    • Photo: Lucy Budge

      Lucy Budge answered on 14 Jun 2019:


      My work is similar to Savannah’s – except that instead of working to look for the new (Beyond the Standard Model) physics, I’m trying to predict what results we expect to see as precisely and accurately as possible – which then makes it easier to find any experimental result that is different from the Standard Model.

      So I’m looking at particles called quarks and gluons (which protons and neutrons are made of) and how these interact to produce a particle called the Higgs boson, which was only discovered in 2012.

    • Photo: Philippe Gambron

      Philippe Gambron answered on 14 Jun 2019:


      I’m trying to find methods to accelerate large calculations like what is used for weather forecasting or aerodymanics simulations. I am also trying to use those techniques to try to calculate how the particles behaves during the first second of the Universe.

    • Photo: Edoardo Vescovi

      Edoardo Vescovi answered on 14 Jun 2019:


      My research is purely theoretical and has nothing to do with experiments or models that describe nature. Instead, the focus shifts to simpler models of fictitious universes that can be completely understood and solved, given little information on the particles in them. The story doesn’t begin with the outcome of an experiment and ends with tweaking the model accordingly, but the other way around. We choose particles and interactions, then calculate the result of an imaginary experiment. It’s imaginary because on a scratchpad.
      The reason is that these models are far easier than nature, more symmetric, have less numbers to adjust (like masses and electric charges). Simplicity means that many quantities are calculated without approximations or measurements. We want to use some calculations and techniques to say something — even not with high precision — on the behaviour of real particles and their collisions.

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