School of Physics & Astronomy

Atoms and Particles

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We used to think atoms were the most fundamental particles, the smallest possible thing that anything can be divided into. Then we thought protons and neutrons were fundamental particles -- but now we think quarks are. Is there another layer to the mystery of particles or have we reached the bottom? Here the concept of quarks is demonstrated with the use of cheese - of course!

Duration: 00:08:32


Neutrinos are ghostly particles that really don't interact with other things. They were originally "made up" to fix the laws of conservation of energy and momentum, but eventually they were discovered directly. They were originally thought to be completely massless, but more recent studies seem to indicate they have a very tiny mass -- although no one is quite sure what it is!

Duration: 00:11:30

Putting your hand in the Large Hadron Collider...

What WOULD happen if you put your hand in the LHC? This and other big questions are asked of various physicists. They have to think on their feet!

Duration: 00:13:20


At CERN they crash lots of very tiny particles together very very fast at extremely high energies. However they also make anti-matter in some of the collisions. Anti-matter is the exact opposite of regular matter, and when they come together they destroy each other. If you can make enough bits of anti-matter then the simplest anti-matter atom you could make would be anti-hydrogen. The world record was (at the time of filming this video) 38 atoms of anti-hydrogen, held together for 1/6th of a second! Not very long -- but long enough to make some measurements if you are very quick.

Duration: 00:06:15


The electron: the basis of electricity most of chemistry. As far as we know it is a fundamental particle, meaning it's not made up of anything else. What is it though, and what does it do and how? Do we yet have any idea how big it is?

Duration: 00:06:47

Spherical Electron

The electron is a perfect sphere -- apparently. An experiment was undertaken to measure the electron dipole moment, but as a side effect it measures how spherical it is. The answer is "very".

Presenters: Ed Copeland
Duration: 00:09:48

Feynman Diagrams

Is there an easy way to see what is happening when you collide particles together, like they do in the Large Hadron Collider? Physicist Richard Feynman came up with a pictorial way of describing collisions, but crucially one that you could attach all the relevant maths to.

Duration: 00:09:01

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School of Physics and Astronomy

The University of Nottingham
University Park
Nottingham NG7 2RD

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