Liberty students are helping to unravel the most fundamental and complex question of all: How does the universe work? This summer, scientists made a huge discovery (one of the most important events in the history of particle physics) when they found the Higgs boson, a particle that had previously been a theoretical assumption that allowed them to explain the way the cosmos works in a standard model. In other words, scientists had to assume this particle existed in order to explain why matter has mass, and now there is proof that it does.
And so begins a new period of rapid discovery about our universe!
Liberty High’s Honor Physics students are on the leading edge. In November, a majority of them attended a talk by University of Washington Professor Anna Goussiou to learn about the process to find the Higgs boson and the significance of the particle to understanding the universe in its smallest dimensions. At the end of the month, all Honors Physics students will put their new awareness into practice when they go to University of Washington to experiment with data related to the Higgs discovery and watch a planetarium show. Then in March, a small group of them will participate in a regional Master Class to analyze data from the Large Hadron Collider in exercises that mimic real particle physicists’ work.
Professor Goussiou is no stranger to Liberty High School. Upon physics teacher Mark Buchli’s invitation, she has visited before to talk to aspiring female physics students about the scale of the universe.
“I feel compelled to present the big picture of physics to my students along with the awe and beauty of astronomy, all in hopes that more of these students pursue a STEM [science, technology, engineering, math] career,” Buchli said.