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Jugendliche auf Teilchenjagd an der Urknallmaschine
High school students hunting particles at the Large Hadron Collider  High school students hunting particles at the Large Hadron Collider
  Note: Journalists are very welcome to visit the International Hands on Particle Physics Masterclasses 2012, see agenda below.

Research institutes around the world are opening their doors and invite high school students to become particle physicists for one day. More than 9000 students will participate in the International Masterclasses and analyze real data from the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), the new and powerful particle accelerator at CERN, near Geneva, Switzerland. International Masterclasses will take place from February 28 to March 24, 2012 in 31 countries worldwide.

München/Garching – On 20th, March 2012 the Max Planck Institute for Physics, the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität and the Excellence Cluster Universe at Technical University Munich team up for the International Hands on Particle Physics Masterclasses 2012. With the start-up of the new and powerful particle accelerator LHC, a new era in research has dawned. The LHC is used by physicists to study the smallest known particles – the fundamental building blocks of all things. It will revolutionize our understanding of nature, from the minuscule world deep within atoms to the vastness of the Universe. Results of the experiments are followed with great interest, not only by physicists but also by the general public. International Masterclasses allow students to experience this research at close range. The basic idea of the annual program is to let students work as much as possible like real scientists. “International Hands on Particle Physics Masterclasses are a unique opportunity for students to work elbow-to-elbow with scientists and get a taste of how modern research in physics works,” says Michael Kobel, Physics Professor from Technical University Dresden.

In an authentic environment students are allowed to gain insight into the international organization of modern research; at the same time, they learn about the world of subatomic particles through easy-to-understand presentations by physicists who are themselves involved in particle physics research. Participants will examine the products of collisions of elementary particles traveling at close to the speed of light, racing through a 27-kilometer-circumference accelerator. “Students can work on real data from the LHC, collected just few months ago,” Michael Kobel emphasizes. Three experiments – ATLAS, CMS, and ALICE – have made data available for educational use within the program. For example, students can rediscover the Z boson or the structure of the proton, or reconstruct “strange particles”. They can even hunt for the elusive Higgs boson in particle tracks.

Scientists at about 120 universities and laboratories in 31countries will host these international student research days at their home institutions. In addition, more than 30 US-institutes will participate via a branch program in U.S. as part of the QuarkNet program. The worldwide participation reflects the international collaboration in particle physics. Students can experience this international aspect in a video conference concluding their research day. In a video linkup with students in other countries and CERN or Fermilab participants present their findings – just like actual particle physicists do in international collaborations.

International Masterclasses take place under the central coordination of Uta Bilow, Technical University Dresden, in close cooperation with the International Particle Physics Outreach Group (IPPOG). IPPOG is an independent committee of outreach representatives from states involved in the research at CERN and of the research laboratories CERN, and DESY. The committee’s goal is to make particle physics more accessible to the public. Support for International Masterclasses is given by the Helmholtz Alliance “Physics at the Terascale” and the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF). As part of the program, students receive a DVD with interactive material related to particle physics, translated into 17 languages with the help of IPPOG and support of the High Energy and Particle Physics Division of the European Physical Society (EPS-HEPP).
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