Summer science outreach by the School

School staff have taken part in several science outreach events this summer.

Royal Society summer science exhibition

Members of the LHCb group within experimental particle physics helped to organise the “Antimatter matters” exhibit at the Royal Society summer science exhibition from 4-10th July this year.

We know that matter and antimatter were produced in equal amounts during the Big Bang, but now everything we see in the Universe (stars, planets, dust) appears to be made of matter. Understanding where all of the antimatter has gone is one of the key unanswered questions of science. The exhibit aimed to explain how the properties of antimatter are being studied in detail by the LHCb and ALPHA experiments at CERN, the European laboratory for particle physics. Both experiments are making precision measurements to search for differences between matter and antimatter that might help explain the large asymmetry we observe in the Universe.

Dr Greig Cowan, STFC Ernest Rutherford research fellow and member of the LHCb collaboration, edited and produced the exhibit booklet as well as demonstrating at the event, both during the public sessions and at one of the black tie “soirées” for fellows and guests of the Royal Society.

"It was great to see so many people at the event interested in science and particle physics in particular.” Dr Greig Cowan

 You can see more details of the exhibit at the website, as well as other photos and videos on Twitter and Facebook. See links below.

Heavy flavours on Islay

Members of the Edinburgh particle physics group took part in a week of physics meetings and public outreach on Islay. From 10-14th July, the Edinburgh group hosted the “Heavy Flavour 2016 - Quo Vadis?” workshop in the Ardbeg distillery on Islay, where the topic of discussion was the future direction of research for heavy flavour physics, so-called as it involves the study of the heavy beauty and charm quarks that are produced in large numbers at the CERN Large Hadron Collider. Around 30 participants attended the workshop.

"With so many new measurements from the Large Hadron Collider  and many more expected during the next decade, it is time to reflect. At this workshop speakers were asked to discuss the future of heavy flavour physics and Islay provided an excellent venue for this, as both the topic and the location involved heavy flavours,  beauty and charm." Prof Franz Muheim, who currently holds a Senior Experimental Fellowship from the Institute for Particle Physics Phenomenology (IPPP) at Durham University which provided funds for this workshop.

“It has been a long-term goal for us to have a focussed workshop in a remote location to allow us to discuss the latest developments and future directions of heavy flavour physics. Islay was the perfect choice, not least because of it’ own local “heavy flavoured” spirits." Dr Greig Cowan, STFC Ernest Rutherford research fellow.

Particle Physics for Scottish Schools go to Islay

In parallel with the workshop the group organised a series of public outreach events at Islay High School together with Dr Alan Walker, Director of Particle Physics for Scottish Schools (PP4SS), and the local Science teacher, Russell Pollock. This comprised three joint exhibitions: Particle Physics for Scottish Schools Exhibition, From Higgs to Maxwell Exhibition (Royal Society Edinburgh) and I-SAT: Islay Space and Astronomy Tour.

For PP4SS, this is the third visit to the Scottish Highlands and Islands in as many years, after a very successful series of events in Plockton in 2014 and the Orkney International Science Festival in 2015. The PP4SS exhibition, which was mainly developed with funding from a Science and Society Large Award from the former Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council, includes several hands-on exhibits demonstrating the working of particle accelerators and experimental detectors. It also outlines the key areas in particle physics research and The University of Edinburgh's involvement in these efforts. Assisted by experienced demonstrators, the visitors were able to walk through a Cosmic Ray Doorway, drive the CERN's LHC accelerator, determine experimentally the life-time of the muon a fundamental particles, and observe particle tracks in a cloud chamber and much more.

"We are very pleased to yet again visit a more remote Scottish community and talk to local people about particle physics and how such cutting-edge research affect all our daily lives.  We are in particular proud of meeting many young people, who may later on decide to study physics and become researchers themselves. Quite often they say visiting our exhibition was a contributing factor in making such choices." Alan Walker, Director of PP4SS

Islay Space & Astronomy Tour

Islay Space and Astronomy Tour (I-SAT), is a new invited project by Matjaz Vidmar, our school's alumni of and currently a PhD student in Science, Technology and Innovation Studies, also at the University of Edinburgh. Matjaz is often involved in outreach events and for this occasion he developed an interactive display related to his research, which concerns the applications of basic research and innovation partnerships between scientists and local entrepreneurs in the Space Industry in Scotland.

"It was a privilege to be part of the particle physics outreach activities again and I believe these initiatives are absolutely vital for inspiring high school students in remote parts of Scotland to consider science as their future careers." Matjaz Vidmar, who received an Institute of Physics in Scotland Public Engagement Grant to enable his participation

The series of events also included a public session with presentations by Professor Franz Muheim on "Higgs Bosons, Antimatter and all that" and Matjaz Vidmar on "Astrotechnology - and how it changed the World", which was well attended by the local community.

The Particle Physics Experiments (PPE) group and PP4SS project are very grateful for the work put into supporting this outreach event by Brian Cameron of the School of Geosciences and our dedicated volunteers Dr Konstantina Zerva, Alice Morris and Julija Pustovrh, and for the generous hospitality of the Islay High School, Bowmore.