Short course: An introduction to particle physics (2024)

Harry Cliff returns to present a six-part introduction to the world of particle physics.

An LHC collision in which a Higgs Boson is produced.

Particle physics is the study of nature at the highest energies and shortest distances that we can probe in a laboratory, an ambitious attempt to construct a fundamental picture of what the universe is made from and how it works.

A repeat of his successful short course, Cambridge physicist Harry Cliff will discuss the current state of particle physics and the key experiments and insights that led to the development of the Standard Model. As the Large Hadron Collider prepares to restart at even higher energy, we will also explore some of the unsolved problems in particle physics and how theorists and experimentalists are trying to solve them.

In this course, you will learn the following:

  • How the Standard Model describes matter and forces in terms of quarks, leptons and gauge bosons.
  • How a century of experiments and theoretical insights led to the Standard Model.
  • A simple introduction to quantum mechanics and special relativity, the revolutionary ideas that led to modern 'quantum field theory'.
  • What the Large Hadron Collider is, how it works and why it was built.
  • What the Higgs boson is, why it matters and how it was discovered.
  • What questions remain to be answered and how particle physics and astronomy experiments are helping us to attack them.

Course sessions will take in the Ri Conversation Room every Monday between 10 June 2024 and 15 July 2024. Audio recordings of each session will made available for course attendees only. Light refreshments will be available from 6:30pm and the sessions will commence between 7pm to 8:30pm.

In addition, course attendees are invited for drinks after the first session to introduce themselves to the group and chat about the course with Dr Cliff in an informal setting. The course costs £400 (£340 Ri Members) for six sessions, including all course materials and refreshments. The course is for interest only, with no qualification, examination, or certificate of attendance at its conclusion.

About Harry Cliff

Harry Cliff is a particle physicist at the University of Cambridge working on the LHCb experiment, a huge particle detector buried 100 metres underground at CERN near Geneva. He is a member of an international team of around 1400 physicists, engineers and computer scientists using LHCb to study the basic building blocks of our universe in search of answers to some of the biggest questions in modern physics.