Introduction to the Particle Physics CD-ROM

Mallard Decoy and Phyllis Ducque will be helping us to illustrate some of the wonders of nature. But first they are going to give you some useful information about this CD-ROM.

What is this CD-ROM for?

This CD-ROM includes real data from a real experiment at CERN, the world's leading research centre for particle physics. Its aim is to give you a taste of the frontier of knowledge and allow you to perform experiments using the same tools that CERN's physicists use. You will be able to produce your own results and compare them with the official published results. Three analysis projects of differing levels of complexity are included.

How is it structured?

The information on this CD-ROM is divided into a fast track and a collection of pages that go into more depth. The fast track provides the minimum information necessary to enable you to perform an analysis. It leads directly to the analysis projects, by-passing a lot of detailed background information about CERN and particle physics.

Links to the next page of the fast track are coloured aquamarine and labelled with an open book image at the foot of each page. Links to the in depth pages are coloured red and labelled by an image of a row of books .

For those with Internet access, some links to sites on the World Wide Web are included. These are labelled by the word [out], clicking on them will launch a new window.

To help you navigate your way through the CD-ROM, a Menu is always present at the top of the window allowing you to jump to any of the main sections. An index window, launched when you first access the CD-ROM, allows you to look up specific topics. Clicking on an index item will bring up the relevant page in the main window. You can then use the [BACK] button to return to where you were. If you want to look up several items, it's a good idea to return after each so as not to loose track of where you are. Should you close the index window it can be relaunched in the Menu at the top.

Another way of finding your way around is provided by clicking on 'Help' in the Menu. This brings up a clickable map of the CD-ROM. Take a look at the it now. It will show you at a glance what information there is on this CD-ROM, and how it is organized.

How will you do the analysis?

This CD-ROM contains 1000 physics events grouped into files of 100 events each. An event is the name physicists use to describe the result of a particle collision. In this case, each event is the result of a head-on collision between an electron and its anti-matter counterpart, a positron. Each event on this CD-ROM contains all the information gathered from one such collision in a device called a particle detector. By analyzing this information, you will be able to find out what happened in the collision. By analyzing many such events, you will be able to learn some profound secrets about the Universe.

The more events you study, the more precise your result will be. Consequently the best way to approach the task is to split up into teams, each with responsibility for analyzing one file of 100 events. When each analysis team has finished you can compare results before combining them to produce a final answer, which you can then compare with the official published result.

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General Help page Information for the teacher

Particle Physics Education CD-ROM 1999 CERN