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 SCI 320 - Particle Physics


​It has taken billions of Euros and many years of planning, designing and building, but in 2008 the Large Hadron Collider at CERN (near Geneva) is finally conducting its first tests. The LHC is one of the largest science projects ever, involving hundreds of universities and thousands of physicists. Once the LHC is up and running, it will smash bunches of protons and anti-protons into each other. Out of the debris of these collisions, hundreds of other particles are created. Several detectors have been installed to measure the properties of these particles. Scientists hope to find new particles; to improve their understanding of what the elementary constituents of matter are, and to see how these particles interact. The science done at LHC is called particle physics.

In this course we will review the history of particle physics. We will see what technology has been used over the years to detect ever smaller particles. We will learn about the sub-atomic particles with funny names like electrons, pions, kaons, muons, quarks called up, down and strange, bosons called W and Z, and finally the particle the LHC hopes to discover: the Higgs boson. We will see how the list of (what are thought to be) elementary particles has grown and shrunk, and grown again, over the years. We will identify the properties of these particles – charge, mass and spin – and see how they determine under what circumstances a particle can be created. Finally, we will also study some models that describe the interactions between the various elementary particles.





One of the following course is required in order to take this course:

  • SCI 221 Electromagnitism
  • SCI 222 Physical Chemistry