Particle Physics: Seeing the Invisible World

Why can we perform millions of life-saving MRI scans each year? How have we united over half of all nations on the planet in a common cause? What continues to generate Nobel Prizes (30+ so far) decade after decade? You guessed it: particle physics!

Step inside the world of particle physics as we build foundations to study the world's biggest detectors that spy on the universe's smallest phenomena. Learn how to model simple particle interactions, parse scientific papers fresh off the press, debate the political & cultural merits of funding new experiments, build your own particle detector and much more!

Working together with peers to explore the ways that physicists tether creativity and logic together to push the boundaries into new technology. Get up close to state-of-the-art engineering and critical medical devices. Peek through the physics lens at issues plaguing the globe regarding effective science communication. Emerge from this course with a keener, more nuanced eye towards conversations that can build a bridge between physics, the sciences and our world at large.

You will:

  • Learn the history of particle physics, with its greatest minds, greatest disasters and greatest inventions.
  • Understand the way that theories and experiments complement each other to advance science.
  • Tour the advanced nuclear physics laboratory (high-intensity gamma-ray source, particle accelerators and beams) at the TUNL facility.
  • Visit the Duke Medical facility and learn how medical devices and physics expertise intersect.
  • Build a working particle detector and analyze what you observe.
  • Apply conservation of energy and momentum to sleuth into particle interactions.
  • Draw your own scientifically-sound Feynman diagrams.
  • Learn design principles that engineers and physicists leverage to build world-class instruments.
  • Debate whether a new proposal should be funded and discover how science and people overlap.
  • Analyze the strategies for scientific communication across different media and different audiences (art, podcasts, scientific journals, magazines).