APPEAL-9: How to Build the Biggest and Most Complex Discovery Machines

APPEAL 9 – Year of Engineering 2018

How to Build the Biggest and Most Complex Discovery Machines

With the designation of 2018 as the Year of Engineering, it is a great time to discuss with A-level pupils the connections between engineering, particle physics and particle accelerators.

Particle accelerators present engineers with a variety of challenges at the forefront of technology. Engineers build and test the equipment and systems required by accelerators. Building a particle accelerator, for example, can require civil engineering: digging tunnels and installing large infrastructure projects. Other engineers design and build accelerator components: radiofrequency cavities must be crafted to just the right shape and size to boost particles along accelerators; thousands of large custom-built electromagnets focus particle beams and guide them around bends in circular accelerators; and the world’s largest cryogenic system cools magnets on the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) to close to absolute zero, so that the wires supplying their electricity can work in a superconducting state without losing energy to resistance.

The University of Oxford organised in collaboration with CERN a one-day school to give A-level teachers an opportunity to learn about the phenomena and challenges which connect engineering, particle physics and particle accelerators. This school was designed for physics teachers who are not necessarily physics specialists.

Teachers had the opportunity to learn more about particle accelerators, connections between engineering and particle accelerators, and phenomena being studied with particle accelerators – such as the Higgs boson(s) and the search for dark matter. The school addressed questions such as “What is the origin of the Universe and of matter?”, “How do the LHC and other particle accelerators work?”, “What are some of the engineering challenges for particle accelerators?” and “What are the applications of particle accelerators in our daily lives?”

This professional development event aimed to:

  • provide ideas and experience relating to particle physics, accelerator physics and related areas of science and technology;
  • increase confidence in delivering particle physics and accelerator science-related curriculum;
  • consolidate and extend teachers’ knowledge and expertise related to particle physics and accelerator science;
  • deliver up-to-date ‘next steps’ for study and careers related to particle physics and accelerator science;
  • provide an opportunity to network with other teachers, researchers and Oxford admissions tutors.

The timetable for the event is presented here:

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