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Wednesday, October 5, 2022

Bread, Backpacks and Bosons — Summer at CERN

Caitlin Gainey and a few friends from Yale spent the summer in Europe, hiking in the mountains, strolling through medieval villages, and looking for subatomic particle collisions that mankind has rarely seen. .

A Yale senior studying astrophysics, Gainey, along with fellow Yale seniors Dawson Thomas, Matthew Murphy, and Alexandra Haslund Gorey, is one of the world’s most important physics hubs. He did important research at a large hadron collider. CERN (European Organization for Nuclear Research) is located on the outskirts of Geneva, Switzerland. They were part of a scientific team led by Sarah Demers, a physics professor at the Yale School of Arts and Sciences.

of Large Hadron Collider — The world’s largest particle accelerator in a huge underground compound — rebooted in midsummer after four years of upgrades. Physicists use the facility to test theories on the fundamental laws of physics, from the organization of space and time to the relationship between quantum mechanics and general relativity.

The Yale students’ task was to analyze test collisions of subatomic particles, look for specific particles such as Z bosons and J/Psi particles, and create visual representations of the collisions. The work required intensive physics knowledge, computer coding, and graphics expertise.

Their visit overlapped ten yearsth It marks the anniversary of the discovery of the Higgs boson, a fundamental particle of the order of electrons or quarks, a landmark moment celebrated in July by scientists at CERN. In the same month, CERN announced the discovery of three new particles (a pentaquark and two tetraquarks) using a more powerful accelerator beam.

Created by a Yale student, an event display showing the collision of specific particles was an important part of the presentation.

It’s been an exciting time at CERN. These students were in the middle of it. Atlas experiment At the LHC, a member of the international research team that discovered the Higgs Boson (along with Yale physicists Keith Baker and Paul Tipton).

I am very impressed with what they have accomplished,” she said.

team outside pizza restaurant

Team introduction

The Yale physics quartet arrived in Switzerland in May, boasting a range of scientific skills and research interests.

A native of Santa Barbara, California, Haslund-Gourley has been passionate about physics since elementary school. She previously completed an internship in physics at the Fermilab facility outside Chicago, and she hosts her science podcast, “Extended Office Hours,” on Spotify.

A native of Atlanta, Thomas studies physics and mathematics, with a particular interest in exploring particle physics using geometric and topological machine learning techniques.

Gainey, like Hasland-Gorey, grew up in Santa Barbara. During her time at Yale University, she already worked at three scientific laboratories. Two of her laboratories focused on research in astronomy, and one worked on particle physics. Her research interests are data and applying her science skills to both fields.

Murphy, a member of the Yale University rowing team in Portland, Oregon, had no lab experience before asking former PHYS 200 professor Demers about research opportunities in a campus lab. She told him she could do it-or he could come to Switzerland.

It was the first time we had done research,” Murphy said. “I didn’t know what to expect.”

They arrived at their rented apartment outside Geneva in the third week of May in a torrential rainstorm. Their excavation site was just 10 minutes by train to CERN.

With Demers leading the way, they quickly got to work.

this magical land

Yale undergraduates joined the CERN scene in a wave of activity. First launched in 2008, the Large Hadron Collider was beginning his third extended run of particle collisions in a series of test collisions.

Their mission was two-fold: from the early data, pick out interesting collision “events” that would indicate whether the detector was functioning properly, create a visual representation of those events, and track the particles from the accelerator. and energy storage.

They spent weeks learning how the Large Hadron Collider itself works and familiarizing themselves with the computing tools they use to write code to access test data and identify candidate collision events.

I remember sitting in my apartment with Dawson on a Friday night in mid-June, writing code that didn’t work very well,” Murphy says. “Then all of a sudden it started working perfectly. It was amazing.”

I feel very lucky,” said Haslund-Gourley. “I have always wanted to work at CERN. CERN is a magical land where physicists learn about the forces and particles that make up the universe.”

On July 5th, the students participated in the first collision using the Collider’s “stable beam”. This beam he reached a world-breaking energy level of 13.6 TeV (tera-electronvolt). They watched the crash live stream his broadcast, listened to music, and waited for code to run.

Once we started, some of the world’s best physicists reviewed everything we did, and it was a race against time,” Gainey said.

It was an exciting pressure,” Thomas said. “They needed a display for the event ASAP.”

One of their first visualizations was immediately used in a science talk at the 2022 International Conference on High Energy Physics. In fact, this was the first slide of the presentation.

It worked incredibly well,” Haslund-Gourley said.

job well done

By all accounts, the group’s work was successful.

Our students have identified the only publicly available candidates for event exhibition from ATLAS and are regularly thanked and highlighted in presentations throughout the collaboration,” said Demers.

Apart from their assigned projects, the students said they enjoyed immersing themselves in an enthusiastic, scientific environment far from home. For example, Haslund-Gourley says he was inspired by the international nature of the collaboration at CERN. Thomas was delighted to have the opportunity to meet some of the physicists he admired in his 2013 documentary film Particle Fever, which inspired him to pursue physics.

Students eating sandwiches after hiking

After hours, students hiked in the Jura Mountains, toured rustic French villages, and explored the sights of Vienna, Budapest, Munich, and Bern. We also had ample opportunities to sample local cuisine.

A lot of bread was consumed,” Gainey said.

Looking to the future, Gainey said he plans to continue his work on CERN while at Yale this year, and use it as the basis for a senior project. Thomas, on the other hand, believes he has found an “unexpected” way to apply topological machine learning techniques to particle physics.

Inspired by the data science and machine learning techniques used to process crash data at CERN, Haslund-Gourley hopes to apply similar analytical techniques to neurological data.

And Murphy? After a summer at CERN, he says he has quite a few bugs in his research. “I never felt stressed,” he said. “We all hung out and worked and made it work. I know he will continue working at CERN for the dissertation.”

#Bread #Backpacks #Bosons #Summer #CERN

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