Particle physics, at the Masterclass, Galilei – Campailla from Modica present –

Particle physics, at the Masterclass, Galilei – Campailla from Modica present –
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“Am I contradicting myself? Of course I contradict myself, I am vast, I contain multitudes.” This is one of the most famous phrases of Walt Whitman, a 19th century American poet, according to whom man is made up of multitudes.

This sentence summarizes the experience lived by two students from the Liceo Scientifico Galilei – Campailla in Modica, selected to participate in a masterclass on particle physics. The event organized byNational Institute of Nuclear Physics at the LNF (National Laboratories of Frascati)saw the participation of several secondary schools, for a total of around 60 students.

The masterclass lasted 5 days, Gabriele Di Tommasi and Giorgio Zocco, students of class V C, took part in the Modica high school. The two students had the opportunity to participate in the project at the National Laboratories of Frascati . An intense 5 days in contact with great physicists and scientists in Italy.

The project in which Giorgio and Gabriele took part concerned the study of complex systems. The event promoted by INFN was part of the proposal carried out by CERN in Geneva. Around 10,000 secondary school students from different countries around the world joined this ambitious project to study particle physics.

5 days of lessons and data analysis

In Italy the project had an important follow-up with the masterclass on research into particle physics. Specifically, from March 11th to March 15th, students had the opportunity to participate in lessons on the standard model, detectors and particle accelerators; a laboratory on complexity; visit to the LNF experimental apparatus; data analysis of the LHCb group experiment and international video conference with CERN in Geneva.

“It is often difficult to decipher how the latter act and influence the actions of the individual with respect to himself and the masses. Difficult yes, but not impossible. Man is a classic example of a complex system. And the study of complex systems was one of the main moments of the IPPOG (International Particle Physics Outreach Group) project, organized by CERN” explain Gabriele Di Tommasi and Giorgio Zocco in unison.

The works began on March 11th in the LNF auditorium named after Bruno Touschek, founding father of the LNF and a brilliant experimental physicist who worked in the field of particle physics. The masterclass was kicked off by researcher Barbara Sciascia who presented the history, lines of research and successes of the INFN to the students.

In contact with latest generation scientific instruments

“As regards the organization of the work, every day we students attended various lessons held by university professors and researchers. The lessons on the Standard Model were held by Professor Francesco Dettori. Thanks to them we have been able to discover and better understand the world of the infinitely small, dominated by probability and the interactions between subatomic and subnuclear particles” explain the two students from the Modica scientific high school.

Furthermore, they also had the opportunity to follow lessons on particle accelerators and particle detectors, held by David Alesini and Danilo Domenici. These lessons allowed students to understand how particles are accelerated and detected, as well as understand the applications that these instruments have in everyday life.

Not only theory but also laboratories

During the week of lessons a workshop on complexity was also held, with prof. Marco Giordano. Giorgio and Gabriele explain this: “it was useful for knowing the characteristics of a complex system, different from a complicated system. If, in fact, in a complicated system the parts are specialized and essential and the limits of understanding depend on us, in a complex system the parts are unspecialized and redundant and there are many variables that influence the behavior of each part with respect to the others”.

These variables can be identified and studied and models can be built that simulate the behavior of the system. A complex system, therefore, is usually organized in a rational way, contrary to what the name might lead one to think. Examples of complex systems are the nervous system, made up of neurons, a flock of birds or a crowd.

Furthermore, the masterclass allowed the students to experience first-hand what was explained to them in theory. In fact, through programming on the Netlogo program it has been possible to build and study various models of complex systems.

On Thursday 14 March, the penultimate day, the students were able to analyze data from two experiments of the CERN LHCb detector. Both experiments concerned the D0 meson and its decays. After the data analysis, a video conference was held with a CERN researcher and the various groups of students participating in the project and connected from Valencia, Birmingham and Bologna. The last day was dedicated to visiting the Frascati laboratories

Approaching the world of complexity

“This experience has allowed us to get even closer to the world of complexity and that of particle physics and has allowed us to meet many boys and girls, who share with us the passion for physics and, more generally, for scientific subjects and with whom it was possible to exchange questions and opinions. This was one of the strengths of the project: bringing together students who, as Feyman would say, “investigate out of curiosity and not because they know the answer” conclude Gabriele Di Tommasi and Giorgio Zocco.

Finally, the students thanked the National Institute of Nuclear Physics (INFN) for selecting the Institute for participation in the masterclass and for its strong scientific experience.

The project also had great support from prof. Sergio Carrubba, Headmaster of the “G. Galilei – T. Campailla” and Professor Maria Pina Ruta, physics teacher at the school, who contributed to the realization of the project in every part.

A curiosity about the national laboratories of Frascati

The Institute was founded in 1951 and derives from the activity carried out by the boys of Via Panisperna. Today it operates in various fields of physics, collaborates on various international projects and has thousands of people including researchers, technicians and administrative staff.

Among the Nobel discoveries in which INFN took part we include the discovery of the famous Higgs boson (2012), the detection of gravitational waves (2017) and studies on complexity, which earned Giorgio Parisi the Nobel (2021) .

The research carried out by the INFN has also led to the development of various diagnostic techniques in the medical field, such as PET (Positron Emission Tomography) or nuclear magnetic resonance, and to the development of oncological therapies, such as, for example, hadrontherapy .

Today the INFN can therefore boast a prestigious position among the research institutes in the world also thanks to the presence of some particle accelerators and detectors, such as DAΦNE – LUCE, a collider of electrons and positrons. Therefore, a collider of matter and antimatter, unlike the LHC, the particle accelerator at CERN which inside allows the collision of beams of protons or heavy ions. There are few colliders of the DAΦNE type in the world and the one present at the LNF is quite cutting-edge.

 
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