Masterclass 2016—High-school students analyse LHC data
On Tuesday, 23 February 2016, the 6th International Masterclass took place at FAIR and GSI. 20 high-school students were invited to be a scientist for a day and analyse data of the ALICE experiment located at the accelerator LHC at CERN in Geneva. GSI has had a major part in the construction and scientific programme of ALICE from the beginning.
The students were asked to evaluate and interpret data from the ALICE experiment. Under professional supervision by scientists they autonomously analysed data recorded in collisions of protons and from lead nuclei. In the collisions the so-called quark-gluon plasma can be generated for a short time—a state of matter which existed in the universe for the first few microseconds after the big bang. The plasma undergoes a phase transition back to normal matter in fractions of seconds. The particles produced in this process can give insight into the properties of the quark-gluon plasma.
In a guided tour the students also visited the FAIR storage ring CRYRING and experiments at the GSI accelerators. The basic idea of the programme is to allow the students to work in the same fashion as the scientists. This includes a videoconference at the end of the day, where the students presented and discussed their findings with other students from the universities in Frankfurt, Münster, Zagreb, and with CERN.
Approximately 200 universities and research facilities from 47 countries participate in the International Masterclasses this year. Organiser is the International Particle Physics Outreach Group (IPPOG). All events in Germany take place in cooperation with the Netzwerk Teilchenphysik, a nationwide network for the communication of particle physics to youngsters and teachers. They aim to make particle physics accessible to a broader public.
ALICE is one of the four large international experiments at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC). It is the experiment specifically designed to investigate collisions of heavy nuclei at high energies. Scientists of GSI and of German universities were involved in the development of new detectors and in the scientific programme of ALICE from the beginning. The GSI computing centre is an inherent part of the computing grid for data analysis of ALICE.