Let's get physical

Four physics teachers from Edinburgh were part of a 14-strong UK delegation witnessing cutting edge physics research in action during a visit to CERN, the European particle physics laboratory in Geneva.

Mark Ramsay from Edinburgh Academy, Catherine Williams and Helena Whitelaw from Holy Rood High, and Keith Black from George Watson's College were taking part in the Physics Teachers@CERN event from March 15-18, which attracts teaching staff from across Europe. They were given an insight into contemporary particle physics, visited facilities and saw how spin-offs from particle physics impact on everyday lives.

Scientists at the laboratory are preparing for the switch-on of the large hadron collider, the latest particle accelerator, later this year. In the LHC, situated in a 27km underground tunnel, two beams of protons will collide at something approaching the speed of light. Four detector experiments will study the particles created when the collisions take place.

Two general purpose detectors, CMS and ATLAS, will search for new physics while the other two will look at specific phenomena. LHCb will look at the difference between matter and antimatter and ALICE will study quark gluon plasma that existed in the first fraction of a second after the Big Bang.

Teachers @CERN: http:public.web.cern.chpublicContentChaptersEducationTeacherProgramme sPhTeachers2005PhTeachers2007-en.html

CERN: www.cern.chUK LHC: www.lhc.ac.ukPPARC publications: www.pparc.ac.ukpblpublorderform.aspxNoNopsp

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