Masterclass 2017 – On the hunt for particles
On Thursday, March2, 2017 the 7th International Masterclass took place at FAIR and GSI. 14 high-school students were invited to become a scientist for a day and analyse data from the ALICE experiment at the LHC accelerator at CERN in Geneva. GSI has had a major part in the construction and the scientific programme of ALICE from the beginning.
The young persons were asked to evaluate and interpret data of the ALICE experiment. Under professional supervision of scientists they autonomously analysed recent data recorded in proton-proton and lead collisions. In the lead collisions a so-called quark-gluon plasma is generated – a state of matter which existed in the universe shortly after the big bang. This plasma undergoes a phase transition back to normal matter in fractions of seconds. The particles produced in the process can give insight into the properties of the quark-gluon plasma.
In an introductory talk about quark-gluon plasma the pupils were informed about the analysis. Furthermore they visited the large-scale experiment HADES, one of the current experiments at the GSI accelerator facility that will also become a part of the future FAIR accelerator.
The basic idea of the programme is to allow the students to work in the same fashion as the scientists. This includes having a videoconference at the end of the day. In a conference connection with groups from the universities in Frankfurt, Münster, Copenhagen (Denmark) and Zagreb (Croatia) as well as CERN they presented and discussed their results.
This year 210 universities and research institutes from 52 countries particpate in the International Masterclasses. They are organised by the International Particle Physics Outreach Group (IPPOG). All events in Germany are held in cooperation with the "Netzwerk Teilchenwelt", a nationwide network committed to 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.