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PX274 Experimental Particle Physics

Lecturer: Bill Murray

Weighting: 7.5 CATS

Particle physics experiments are designed to study sub-atomic particles and to test their behaviour against the predictions of the Standard Model (SM). This modules explores how we actually make measurements. It uses the discovery of the Higgs boson at CERN as an example. The major pieces of that important discovery are examined, with more focus on the how and why than the precise quantitative calculation.

The module starts with a brief introduction to particle accelerators, along with the long-lived particles of the standard model. The major part of the module describes the interaction of high-energy particles with matter, how this is used in tracking detectors and calorimeters and how these in turn are built into complete experiments which identify particle types, momenta and energies. As the data relating to the events that we want to analyse can be scarce, the module also explains the importance of statistical analysis in the study of such data sets.


To explain the methodology of experimental particle physics


At the end of the module you should:

  • Understand how experiments studying elementary particles are designed and analysed
  • Be able to explain the physical principles limiting such measurements
  • Understand the relativistic kinematics of collision events
  • Be able to use appropriate statistical techniques to study experimental data


The common Elementary Particles, and how their interactions are described by Feynman diagrams. Interactions of particles in matter
Particle sources. Artificial sources: Accelerators. Collisions and relativistic kinematics
Physics of particle detectors. Scattering and ionization (including relativistic scattering kinematics). Position, momentum (tracking and decay reaction kinematics) and energy measurements. Particle identification principles
A complete (including statistical) analysis exercise

Commitment: about 18 Lectures

Assessment: 1 hour examination

Recommended Texts:

This module has a home page.