CERN — the European Organization for Nuclear Research

Colliding Particles - Episode 6: Beam





Mike Paterson



To illustrate to students ages 15+ how science develops through discussion, collaboration and completion of works, and to illustrate the relationship between experiment and theory in science.


"Beam" is the sixth film of the series ‘Colliding Particles." 'Beam' looks at the role of competition in science and joins the night shift in the CMS detector control room.
Film Duration: 9min 52 sec.
See film here:
Topics Covered in this Film:

  • Solving Problems - Tiziano and Benedetto describe the personal pleasure of solving problems in science.
  • CMS Control Room - Rachel describes the satisfaction of work coming to fruition.
  • Two Experiments - Tiziano and Benedetto explain that there are two competing experiments (CMS and ATLAS). If both get the same results, this will provide validation of the findings. Rachel and colleagues explain why they want to maximise the amount of data collected.
  • Getting Competitive - Jon explains that particle physics is a small world. Ariella and Gigi argue over the number and quality of published papers. ATLAS is a month behind CMS.
  • Missing Energy - Rachel explains that a V-shaped pattern of jets suggests that there is ‘missing energy’ – something to be explained.
  • Testing Times - Tiziano explains that, at this early stage, the detectors are tested by ensuring that they can reproduce established physics results.
  • First, Best & Civilised - Jon explains that everyone wants to be first and best. Tiziano describes the competition as ‘very civilised’.
  • Rachel describes the satisfaction at the end of a run.

(See teacher's guide for this episode for exact timings of these topics within the video:
About the series:
The full series follows just one of the teams of physicists involved in the research at the LHC.
The project documents their work at the frontiers of particle physics, exploring the human stories behind the research and investigating the workings of the scientific process itself. It is designed to support the ‘How Science Works’ element of key stage 4 of the English national curriculum. The films have been made to illustrate aspects of the way in which science develops. They show scientists discussing their work, how they collaborate and compete, and the relationship between experiment and theory in science.
Although the idea of the Standard Model of particle physics and the existence of the Higgs particle are unlikely to be part of the formal curriculum for most students, these films can still be used when you wish to discuss aspects of HSW and to stimulate interest in the process of scientific discovery. Because the scientists are describing an on-going process of discovery, the films have a natural ‘story’ thread running through them.

Post date: Mon, Feb 07, 2011 — 12:04
Updated date: Tue, Nov 20, 2012 — 04:27

Learning Topics

(Maps) Who does What?
Process of Discovery