Physics: A Level Physicists Attend Particle Physics Lecture

Physics: A Level Physicists Attend Lecture by Dr Melissa Uchida from Imperial College London

The Super-Kamiokande detector: 50,000 tons of pure water surrounded by 11,146 photomultiplier tubes (Courtesy Kamioka Observatory / ICRR / University of Tokyo).

On the 4th of February a few physics students from Bede's attended a talk on particle physics at the University of Sussex entitled, 'Liquid hydrogen, 50,000 tonnes of water and a nuclear reactor.'

The talk lasted an hour and outlined how to detect a subatomic particle called and an electron neutrino, Dr Uchida was one of the members that worked with many other scientists in Japan's TK2 experiment to perceive antielectron neutrinos, which are extremely hard to detect.

They did this by means of firing antielectron neutrinos 295km from the east coast of Japan to the west coast and having a bath of 50,000 tonnes of water on the other side to count the amount of neutrinos going past that distance.

Dr Uchida went onto say that even though it is very hard to detect neutrinos, as they do not interact with anything, particle physicists have come up with cutting edge detectors to count them on their path to J-PARC, which is essentially the destination of the neutrinos where physicists has managed to recreate conditions of nearly absolute zero so they can discover the neutrino in more depth.

After the lecture there was time for questions, and I asked the question which many aspiring engineers, particle physicists, and theoretical physicists would ask:

'What would I need to do to get myself a place at imperial college?'

Not to anyone's surprise, Dr Uchida replied, 'you have to think, and ask stupid questions.'

By this she meant you have to think outside the box - and A level Maths and Physics are one thing but having practical ability or excessive knowledge about the subject you aspire to study is what gets you through.

Shayan Sharanizadeh

Lower Sixth, Deis House