On the 26th February Year 12 Physics were invited to take part in a Particle Physics Masterclass at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in Oxfordshire, which is the UK’s leading particle physics research centre for pure science and industrial applications.

Throughout the day we heard a number of lectures on the latest developments in particle physics, many from scientists who are also contributing to the international Large Hadron Collider collaboration at CERN.

We were treated to a tour around the Diamond facility, in which electrons are accelerated in a large ring to near the speed of light, and the wonderfully named Bremsstrahlung effect as the electrons turn produces intense electromagnetic radiation which can be used to probe the structure of materials as diverse as aircraft parts, pharmaceutical molecules and even chocolate! In the afternoon, we were given a tutorial on how to interpret particle tracks from detectors such as those on the Large Hadron Collider.

Sarah and Mimi were the first to spot something strange in their data – the tell-tale signs of the elusive Higgs boson. This was a marvellous event which wonderfully complemented the Particle Physics topic which the girls had been studying as part of their AS Physics course.