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Particle-Physics Manger: LHC Startup Edition

The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN, Geneva, produced its first proton-proton interactions in November 2009, reaching a World-record energy of 2.36 TeV. The energy and frequency of collisions will be increased in 2010, as the LHC experiments undertake a wide-ranging physics programme, investigating topics that include the origin of mass, matter-antimatter asymmetry, the quark-gluon plasma, supersymmetry, and extra dimensions.

A ten-week summer studentship is offered in the Particle-Physics Group at the University of Birmingham, to work on a science-communication project to introduce school children and others to the excitement of the LHC physics adventure. A key component of the project is the development of a piece of educational software, in the form of a single-player strategy game: Particle-Physics Manager: LHC Startup Edition. In the game, the player takes overall responsibility for a large-scale particle-physics experiment at a new high-energy hadron collider, similar to the LHC. Aiming to make optimum use of the available resources, the player manages the experiment's activities from detector design to data analysis, having as top priority the discovery of the Higgs Boson, but keeping an eye open for other exciting opportunities. A game framework has been developed in C++, and the main tasks for the summer student will be to add the physics content and to optimise the game mechanics. The student will be strongly supported by three members of the particle-physics group, will have the opportunity to undertake school visits to interact with play testers, and will be invited to give a demonstration of the finished game at the 2010 British Science Festival, being held in Birmingham 14th-19th September.

This project requires understanding of particle physics at the level of a third-year undergraduate course, and familiarity with C++. Exact dates for the project are to be agreed with the student, but should be in the period 7th June 2010 to 24th September 2010. The student will receive an allowance of £200 per week.

Applications for this studentship, and requests for further information, should be sent to:

Project supervisor: Cristina Lazzeroni
Address: School of Physics and Astronomy
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

Applications may be submitted on paper or in electronic form, to arrive no later than 26th March 2010, and should include:

This project is supported by the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC), through a Science in Society Small Award.