High-school students analyze measurement data — ALICE Masterclass in virtual format


In March, interested students had again the opportunity to analyze data from the ALICE experiment at the CERN research center in a virtual masterclass. The event was jointly organized by scientists of the ALICE experiment from the Universities of Frankfurt and Münster as well as from GSI.

In the framework of the ALICE Masterclass, 13 students were able to gain an insight into the scientific work and data analysis . Under the expert guidance of the scientists, they analyzed the ALICE experiment data themselves and discussed their results with other participants in a joint video link. A virtual visit to the ALICE measurement setup at CERN was also part of the day's program.

ALICE is one of the four large-scale experiments at the LHC collider at the CERN research center in Geneva and deals in particular with heavy ion collisions of lead atomic nuclei. When lead atomic nuclei collide with unimaginable impact in the LHC, conditions are created similar to the first moments of the universe. During the collisions, a so-called quark-gluon plasma is created for a very short time - a state of matter that existed in the universe shortly after the Big Bang. This plasma transforms back into normal matter within fractions of a second. The particles produced in the process provide information about the properties of the quark-gluon plasma. Thus, the measurements can peer into the birth of the cosmos and reveal information about the basic building blocks of matter and their interactions.

The relationship between GSI and ALICE is traditionally very close: The two large ALICE detector systems Time Projection Chamber (TPC) and Transition Radiation Detector (TRD) were designed and built with significant contributions of GSI’s ALICE department and Detector Laboratory. Today scientists from both departments focus on the TPC, which is the centerpiece for track reconstruction in the central ALICE barrel setup and is also indispensable for particle identification. Scientist from GSI's IT department contribute strongly to the new data acquisition and analysis software O2, and the GSI computer center is an integral part of the computer network for data analysis of the ALICE experiment.

The Masterclasses are organized by the IPPOG (International Particle Physics Outreach Group), of which GSI is an associate member. Each year, more than 13,000 students from 60 countries take part in the events of about 225 universities or research centers for a day to unlock the mysteries of particle physics. All events in Germany are held in collaboration with the Netzwerk Teilchenwelt, of which GSI/FAIR is a member. The goal of the nationwide network for communicating particle physics to young people and teachers is to make particle physics accessible to a broader public. (CP)

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