Six students from Kenmore West High School were part of an international effort to analyze data from the world's largest particle accelerator.
Students David Bauman, Mike Zabielski, Carlos Martinez, Ryan Rose, Shane McGregor and Antonio Manzella attended a conference at Nichols High School in late March where they joined more than 5,000 people from 40 different countries in compiling and understanding data from the 17-mile-long Large Hadron Collider (LHC), which is operated by the European Organization for Nuclear Research (commonly referred to as CERN).
The LHC is the largest machine in the world, where high-energy particle beams are accelerated to immense speeds before colliding. What emerges from those collisions and the data gathered helps scientists gain a greater understanding of the fundamental framework of the universe. The basic laws of physics, quantum mechanics, the beginnings of the universe, extra dimensions predicted by string theory, and dark matter are different areas of study from data originating in the LHC.
During the complex experiment, participants analyzed data from a specific detector in the LHC called the Compact Muon Solenoid (CMS), which is capable of generating a magnetic field 100,000 times that of Earth. Specifically, the students analyzed events and classified each as a W, Z or Higgs event. They then constructed a histogram to help determine the ratio and probabilities of each event. The students worked with this data and then engaged a physicist from Fermilab via video conferencing during which they presented their data.