CERN — the European Organization for Nuclear Research


Peter Watkins
Physicist, Honorary Professor
Particle Physics Group, School of Physics and Astronomy, University of Birmingham, Birmingham B15 2TT, UK

Pete first got interested in fundamental physics after reading George Gamow's book 'Matter, Earth and Sky' at school. He studied Physics at the University of Birmingham and obtained his PhD in Particle Physics after working on bubble chamber experiments at CERN. These experiments discovered many short lived hadrons which we now know contain quarks. These collision energies were around one thousand times smaller than he now studies in the ATLAS experiment at the Large Hadron Collider(LHC).
He worked on the first experiment to publish results from the CERN Super Proton Synchrotron and when this accelerator was converted into a proton antiproton collider he worked on the Nobel prize winning UA1 experiment. This discovered the W and Z bosons and he wrote a book 'Story of the W and Z' aimed at a general audience. He wrote much of the software with a few colleagues to visualise the matter-antimatter collisions that aided the first identification of the massive bosons. Detailed measurements of the W and Z bosons were made by later experiments at the Large Electron Positron Collider(LEP) where he worked on the OPAL experiment. Here the Birmingham team constructed the 12m by 12m muon detectors and electronics that selected (or triggered) the recording of the most interesting collisions. For the past decade he has been working on the calorimeter trigger, event visualisation and physics analysis for the ATLAS experiment. Most recently contributing to the publication of the chib3p observation which is the first new particle discovered at the LHC.
Peter was the head of the Birmingham Particle Physics group for many years and is the ATLAS UK Outreach representative. He has initiated many different Outreach activities and competitions throughout his career and gives many talks each year on Particle Physics and the LHC aimed at a non-specialist audience. “I have been very lucky to have worked with colleagues from around the world on so many interesting projects at CERN. It is great fun to pass on the excitement and challenges of this work to schools and the general public in lectures and other outreach work.”
Peter has been the UK representative to IPPOG since 2007.