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Physics Masterclass Day at University of Auckland

On Saturday, March 17th, five Physics students including myself, went to the annual 2018 Physics Masterclass at Auckland University.

Our day kicked off with a lesson from Prof. Mark Kruse, of Duke University, who introduced us to the basis of particle physics and the purpose of and science behind the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), the world’s most powerful particle accelerator, located just outside Geneva, Switzerland.

This was followed by another lesson by UoA professor, Dr. David Krofcheck, who is responsible for bringing New Zealand’s scientists into the LHC experiment.

Our third speaker was Mr. Tristan O’Hanlon, a first year physics teacher at UoA, who taught us about particle collisions, how to differentiate between them, and the results of these collisions. Mr O’Hanlon also taught us how to use the computer program which would allow us to analyse these particle collisions.

This led to the hands-on part of the day studying particle physics. Our team split off into groups and we each analysed real data from the LHC detectors, to identify between and deduce the masses of W and Z Bosons, or J/Psi Mesons, and find the total energy and momenta observed in each of the approximately 100 particle collisions we analysed.

The day concluded with what was meant to be an international video conference, but as that encountered technical difficulties, turned into a summary and Q&A of our learning from that day.

This masterclass further informed us on what particle physics is really about and undoubtedly piqued a lot of our interests. It has definitely introduced another possible career choice for us and several others that were at the event.


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