ReAgent is proud to be a corporate member of the Science Museum in London. One of the benefits of our membership is that we get invited to VIP launch events at the Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI).
At the launch parties, we have the chance to enjoy a selection of entertainment from local talent, meet special guests and most importantly, learn all about the wonders of science.
On Thursday 22nd May 2014, we attended the VIP launch of the Collider Exhibition at MOSI, which transports visitors to the heart of the Large Hadron Collider (HRC) at CERN, one of the greatest endeavours of our time.
CERN is the European Organisation for Nuclear Research, where physicists look for answers to some of the most fundamental yet disputable questions about life; ‘What is the universe made of?’ and ‘How did it all begin?’
Professor Jeff Forshaw from the University of Manchester explained why Manchester is such a fitting venue for the Collider Exhibition, being the birthplace of modern day particle physics.
It was in Manchester that Rutherford discovered the existence of the atomic nucleus and since then, Manchester has been regarded worldwide as a centre of excellence for those wishing to study Physics.
CERN is located in Switzerland, and over 10,000 students and scientists from across the globe are based there, working to understand how the world works at its most elemental level. The MOSI Collider Exhibition aims to show visitors what it’s like to work in such an environment, where scientists are trying to make sense of the data, whilst actually building and maintaining the accelerators in the Large Hadron Collider.
An eye-catching quote on the VIP Launch invitation read, “By the time you’ve travelled between Liverpool and Manchester, a particle would have travelled around the Large Hadron Collider 33 million times.”
It’s a pretty staggering statistic, but one that perfectly illustrates how science never ceases to amaze us.
VIP Launch of the Collider Exhibition
“See history being made. Meet engineers who build the impossible. Walk the tunnels of CERN. Stand in the heart of a collision. Witness a moment of discovery. Step inside the world’s greatest experiment”
The VIP Launch began with a short introduction by Jean M Franczyk, the Director of MOSI.
The Launch was informative from beginning to end and took us on a journey of discovery. We explored the uncovering of the Higgs boson (which is explained below) as well as the 27km collider.
We were also shown how studying the subatomic world can point the way to a fuller understanding of our universe.
BBC presenter Richard Bacon added a few words about the relevance of the Large Hadron Collider (and even joined in a “selfie” with us!) He wondered what the point of it all was- why do we force particles to collide at the speed of light? Fortunately, there were numerous particle physicists on hand during the course of the evening to answer this question and many more.
As we were absorbing all of the information, we spotted a surprise visitor join the crowd and take a seat – television’s best known Professor of Particle Physics, Professor Brian Cox. The rest of the visitors and ourselves were delighted to meet Professor Cox and take some photos with him.
Professor Cox explained; “Manchester is where modern particle physics began, when Rutherford discovered the atomic nucleus by smashing helium nuclei into gold foil, and that great intellectual adventure continues in CERN today.”
The evening managed to combine science with art, and The Manchester Camerata performed a stunning musical symphony, which had been especially arranged for the opening night of the Collider Exhibition. The Northern Ballet School also gave a performance, showcasing their own uplifting interpretation of ‘collision’.
What is the Large Hadron Collider?
You may or may not have heard of the LHC, and so far may only know that it’s a machine that forces particles together at the speed of light to cause a collision. Let’s look at a deeper explanation about what the Large Hadron Collider actually is.
Located in CERN, the LHC is the largest and most powerful particle accelerator (or “collider”) ever built. It took a team of around 10,000 men and women to design, construct and operate it.
Colliders accelerate tiny particles to 99.9998% of the speed of light so they smash into each other, in order to create altogether new particles from the energy of the collisions. By studying the new particles that are created, physicists can learn more about the physical laws that govern our universe at the most fundamental level.
What is the Higgs boson?
Up until the 1960s, physicists widely thought that the weak nuclear force had a shorter range than other forces because the force-carrying particles were huge, preventing them from travelling long distances.
However, particles with mass disproved this theory and in 1964, physicist Peter Higgs and other theorists proposed a new theory, suggesting that there exists an all-pervading energy field which interacts with particles and gives them mass.
Peter Higgs suggested that this field could be “poked” to let off a “disturbance”, which would show up as a new particle. This came to be known as the Higgs boson or Higgs particle.
In 2012, it was discovered that the Higgs boson existed inside the Large Hadron Collider, which proved that this energy field does actually exist.
The collider exhibition runs daily until 28th September 2014 and is well worth a visit if you get chance.
Learn about the science of particles which is contributing to the huge ongoing discovery about how the world works.