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Open Day on June 1, 2019

From A for Axion to Z for Z boson: On June 1, 2019 from
10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
, the Max Planck Institute for Physics is hosting another open day. At the event we will demonstrate the exciting research questions on elementary particles and other fields of physics that keep our scientists busy.

For example, our physicists will explain why we need temperatures even lower than freezing in order to detect dark matter. Or how the most precise weighing scale in the world works, which we’ll use to finally work out the mass of a neutrino. Not only that, we are also offering a virtual tour of the new Belle II detector, which physicists use to investigate the mystery of disappeared anti-matter.

In our electronic and mechanical workshops we will provide an insight into how large experiments are planned and built – like the huge new gamma-ray telescope on La Palma. Our technicians and engineers will demonstrate which particular techniques and specialized devices are used in this.

We also have a lecture program - here we’ll delve into current research topics at our Institute. Our guests will also be able to build their own particle detector out of Lego - there will be prizes for the best proposals. For children we’re offering the drawing competition ‘Particles in the universe’ and a particle hunt through the Institute.


Woraus besteht das Universum, wie ist es aufgebaut? Was haben Elementarteilchen damit zu tun? Warum suchen Wissenschaftlerinnen und Wissenschaftler nach neuen, exotischen Teilchen?

... und was Sie sonst noch über Teilchenphysik wissen wollen: Hier finden Sie eine erste Anlaufstelle für Ihre Fragen – diskutieren Sie mit uns!

Scientists have long known that the universe must contain a form of matter which cannot be seen. It attracts mass, just as normal, visible matter does. This is how dark matter keeps galaxies together – and determines how they are spread out in the universe. CRESST is one of several experiments searching for the as yet unknown particles of dark matter –and it requires very low temperatures.

What can you see here?

  • The CRESST cryogenic temperature laboratory: How can low temperatures close to absolute zero (-273 degrees Celsius) be achieved?
  • In the CRESST tent: Which methods does the experiment use to detect dark matter?
  • Also: Entertaining experiments with nitrogen and balloons!

A new project started only recently at the Max Planck Institute for Physics — MADMAX. Everything here revolves around the axion. The elementary particle exists in theoretical models, but it has not yet been possible to detect it. Axions can help to eliminate some nconsistencies in particle physics. It is a possible candidate for dark matter, for example.

We explain the tricks scientists can use to expose axions — and exhibit the prototype for a new experiment in the axion laboratory.

The neutrino is the Mona Lisa of the elementary particles – it is even more mysterious than the other members of the particle family. The neutrino could be its own antiparticle, for example. If this is the case, it could have played an important role in the disappearance of antimatter from the universe. And cause germanium to decay in a very special way. Germanium detectors are being used in the search for these extremely rare radioactive decays.

What can you see here?

  • Natural radioactivity is everywhere – there would be no life without it! We show how it can be measured and if you guess correctly, you can take away something delicious.
  • How do germanium detectors work? How can they be understood?
  • How are they used in the GERDA experiment?
  • What are the plans for the future?

Matter and antimatter were generated in equal amounts during the Big Bang, but in today’s universe we see mainly matter. Why is there this asymmetry between matter and antimatter? The Belle experiment investigated decays of matter and antimatter particles to find out why they behave differently. Belle II will improve these measurements further: With more data and new detectors.

What can you see here?

    • Virtual tour through Belle II: Stroll through the experimentation room in Japan with VR glasses and take a close look at the detector
    • Typical signals from matter and antimatter colliding
    • Pixel detector: Measuring particle tracks with the highest precision

    Telescopes are the most important “visual aids” for studying the universe. Scientists use them to investigate various wavelengths of light, for example visible light, infrared or radio waves. The MAGIC and CTA telescopes focus their sights on the most energetic radiation: Gamma radiation. It tells us what happens near black holes and when stars explode, and allows us to have a look into the distant past of our 13-billion-year-old universe.

    What can you see here?

    • Mirror experiments at the experimental set-up
    • Live broadcast to La Palma at  11:00, 12:30, 14:00, 15:30 – scientists demonstrate the brand new LST telescopes and MAGIC  on the highest mountain on the Canary Island
    • Camera technologies which can detect and evaluate gamma radiation

    After the discovery of the Higgs boson, more particles could maybe follow soon: At the LHC, protons are smashed into each other at almost the speed of light and incredibly high energies. The accurate data from ATLAS enable researchers to conduct high-precision measurements of the standard model using known particles, and to search for things unknown. To increase the chances of detecting new particles, the LHC is updated for further outstanding achievements. This applies to the ATLAS instrumentation as well – our scientists give you an insight into how detector technologies are being developed further and report on the results achieved.

    What can you see here?

    • The instruments used to measure muons: Smaller, faster and much more precise than before
    • New types of silicon pixel sensors to measure electrically charged particles
    • ATLAS control room: How scientists work at CERN
    • Precision measurements for the mass of the top quark

    Electronics technician for equipment and systems

    In addition to information about the training and the workshop, there are computer games for children and young people of any age – three players can compete at any one time.

    Industrial mechanic (precision engineering)

    In addition to information about the training and the workshop, we show functioning (compressed air controlled) models which the apprentices have built.

    • Pneumatic control
    • Marble run
    • 3D printing with parts to take home
    • Table soccer
    • Presentation of the company/vocational school joint project: 3D Delta printers

    Lego competition “Build your own particle detector!“ Prizes will be awarded to the three best models. The winners will be announced on: end of June 2019.

    Drawing competition: Particle party in the Universe
    The competition will be held at set times. We will begin by introducing the most important residents of the particle zoo.

    The prize for the best drawing will be awarded immediately afterwards. All the artistic works will be entered into the final round and the three best artistic works overall will win a prize.  The winners will be announced on: end of June 2019.  

    Competition times (you can come and paint just for fun at any time):

    10:00-11:00, prizes will be presented at 11:15
    12:00-13:00, prizes will be presented at 13:15
    14:00-15:00, prizes will be presented at 15:15

    Particle hunt

    Without us even noticing, trillions of neutrinos travel through our body every second. They are everywhere, and yet we know precious little about them. The exact mass of a neutrino is one of the missing jigsaw pieces in properly understanding how structures developed in the early universe. That’s why the KATRIN Experiment, also called ‘the most accurate weighing scale in the world’, made it its aim to determine the mass of this mysterious elementary particle.

    What can you see here?

    • With our energy game we measure how much neutrinos weigh - and show where they come from.
    • What does a weighing scale for neutrinos look like?
    • What are silicon drift detectors?

    It takes huge accelerator facilities to bring particles to high energy. Scientists are researching new methods to accelerate particles to almost the speed of light in much quicker ways that are as efficient as possible: AWAKE uses plasma waves that electrons surf on to get themselves revved up.

    What can you see here? We’ll show different games with light (waves), and explain the methods with which plasma waves can be generated.

    Experiments in particle physics push the limits of what can be done with technological developments - new detection technologies are needed for new generations of experiments. One example is detectors to measure energy with up to 1000 times higher granularity than the systems currently being used at the Large Hadron Collider. The smallest, silicon-based light detectors will be used for this, the kind already being used for specialist purposes in the Belle II Experiment.

    What can you see here?

    • Experiments to measure cosmic radiation and determine the speed of light
    • Detector designs for particle physics experiments after the LHC
    • from underground in the Belle II Experiment with silicon photomultipliers

    Electronic components are a bit like the brain of modern particle physics experiments. No matter whether particle physics collisions or light signals: modern chip and semiconductor technologies ensure precise measurements and data analyses, without which new knowledge would be impossible.

    What can you see here?

    • Electronics laboratory in the experiment hall North
    • How can individual particles of light be visualized in the MAGIC telescope?
    • ATLAS detector: how to track muons
    • Silicon photomultiplier: the next generation of telescope cameras
    • By the apprentice workshop: a model of the AWAKE accelerator and a floating magic ball (Levitron)

    All experiments in particle physics are unique. Our Mechanical Department shows you how new experiments are designed, built and installed.

    What can you see here?

    A number of parts, from screws to highly complex rotary-milled components, have to be manufactured individually. You can see various machines at work in our workshops (milling shop and mechanical), for example 3D printers, milling or waterjet cutting machine

    Talks (in German)

    10:30 - 11:00 CRESST - mit ultrakalten Kristallen auf der Jagd nach der Dunklen Materie (Johannes Rothe)
    11:00 - 11:30 Die nächste Beschleuniger-Generation: Geplante Großexperimente in der Teilchenphysik (Frank Simon)
    11:30 - 12:00 Neutrinos - rätselhafte Bausteine des Universums (Tobias Stirner)
    12:00 - 12:30 Belle II und das Geheimnis der verschwundenen Antimaterie (Christian Kiesling)
    13:00 - 13:30 Was bedeutet die berühmte Unschärferelation von Heisenberg für die moderne Teilchenphysik? (Christoph Dlapa)
    13:30 - 14:00 Wenn Elektronen surfen gehen - Teilchenbeschleunigung mit AWAKE (Mathias Hüther)
    14:30 - 15:00 Mikrowellen aus dem Nichts – die Suche nach Axionen als Dunkler Materie (Stefan Knirck)
    15:00 - 15:30 Alles Gute kommt von oben - der Nachweis kosmischer Teilchen mit den MAGIC- und CTA-Teleskopen (Moritz Hütten)
    15:30 - 16:00 Wie schwer ist ein Neutrino? Messungen mit der genauesten Waage der Welt (Lisa Schlüter)
    16:00 - 16:30 Teilchenphysik am Large Hadron Collider: Vom Ursprung der Masse zu neuer Physik (Marius Wiesemann)