Particle Physics: an Introduction

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Particle Physics: an Introduction

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Beschrijving

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About this course: This course introduces you to subatomic physics, i.e. the physics of nuclei and particles. More specifically, the following questions are addressed: - What are the concepts of particle physics and how are they implemented? - What are the properties of atomic nuclei and how can one use them? - How does one accelerate and detect particles and measure their properties? - What does one learn from particle reactions at high energies and particle decays? - How do electromagnetic interactions work and how can one use them? - How do strong interactions work and why are they difficult to understand? - How do weak interactions work and why are they so special? - What is the mas…

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When you enroll for courses through Coursera you get to choose for a paid plan or for a free plan

  • Free plan: No certicification and/or audit only. You will have access to all course materials except graded items.
  • Paid plan: Commit to earning a Certificate—it's a trusted, shareable way to showcase your new skills.

About this course: This course introduces you to subatomic physics, i.e. the physics of nuclei and particles. More specifically, the following questions are addressed: - What are the concepts of particle physics and how are they implemented? - What are the properties of atomic nuclei and how can one use them? - How does one accelerate and detect particles and measure their properties? - What does one learn from particle reactions at high energies and particle decays? - How do electromagnetic interactions work and how can one use them? - How do strong interactions work and why are they difficult to understand? - How do weak interactions work and why are they so special? - What is the mass of objects at the subatomic level and how does the Higgs boson intervene? - How does one search for new phenomena beyond the known ones? - What can one learn from particle physics concerning astrophysics and the Universe as a whole? The course is structured in eight modules. Following the first one which introduces our subject, the modules 2 (nuclear physics) and 3 (accelerators and detectors) are rather self contained and can be studied separately. The modules 4 to 6 go into more depth about matter and forces as described by the standard model of particle physics. Module 7 deals with our ways to search for new phenomena. And the last module introduces you to two mysterious components of the Universe, namely Dark Matter and Dark Energy.

Who is this class for: This course is aimed at people who have a basic education in physics, especially classical mechanics and electrodynamics. Basic notions of special relativity and quantum mechanics may also be useful, although we give short reminders of these tools. The ideal background would be that of a 3rd year student in any scientific discipline.

Created by:  University of Geneva
  • Taught by:  Martin Pohl, Professeur ordinaire

    Département de physique nucléaire et corpusculaire
  • Taught by:  Mercedes Paniccia, Collaboratrice scientifique

    Département de Physique Nucléaire et Corpusculaire
  • Taught by:  Anna Sfyrla, Assistant Professor

    Nuclear and Particle Physics
Commitment We estimate the workload for this course to be about 11 weeks of study with 3 to 4 hours/week, depending on your usage of the optional material. Language English How To Pass Pass all graded assignments to complete the course. User Ratings 4.3 stars Average User Rating 4.3See what learners said Coursework

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University of Geneva Founded in 1559, the University of Geneva (UNIGE) is one of Europe's leading universities. Devoted to research, education and dialogue, the UNIGE shares the international calling of its host city, Geneva, a centre of international and multicultural activities with a venerable cosmopolitan tradition.

Syllabus


WEEK 1


Matter and forces, measuring and counting



During this first module, we will give an overview of the objects studied in particle physics, namely matter, forces and space-time. We will discuss how one characterizes the strength of an interaction between particles using the concept of cross section, which is central to our subject. At the end of this module, we will visit the laboratory of the nuclear physics course at University of Geneva to see an example of how one measures the strength of a reaction in practice.


13 videos, 5 practice quizzes expand


  1. Video: General presentation of the course
  2. Video: 1.1 Matter
  3. Practice Quiz: 1.1 Matter
  4. Video: 1.2 Forces
  5. Video: 1.2a Natural units (optional)
  6. Video: 1.2b Special relativity and four-vectors (optional)
  7. Video: 1.2c Virtual particles (optional)
  8. Practice Quiz: 1.2 Forces
  9. Video: 1.3 Probability and cross section
  10. Video: 1.3a Attenuation of a photon beam (optional)
  11. Practice Quiz: 1.3 Probability and cross section
  12. Video: 1.4 Rutherford experiment
  13. Video: 1.4a Rutherford cross section (optional)
  14. Video: 1.4b Counting rate Rutherford (optional)
  15. Practice Quiz: 1.4 Rutherford experiment
  16. Video: 1.5 Quantum scattering
  17. Practice Quiz: 1.5 Quantum scattering
  18. Video: 1.6 Rutherford experiment in practice (optional)

Graded: Graded quiz for Module 1

WEEK 2


Nuclear physics



During this second module, we deal with nuclear physics and its applications. This is a rather self-contained module. If your main interest is nuclear physics, you will be well served. You will notice that this is a rather substantial module, we recommend that you take two weeks to digest it. At the end of this module, we will visit the Tokamak of the Swiss Institute of Technology in Lausanne and the Beznau nuclear power plant, the oldest one still in operation. This will alllow you to better understand the applications of nuclear physics for our energy supply.


15 videos, 1 reading, 9 practice quizzes expand


  1. Video: 2.1 Nuclear mass and binding energy
  2. Practice Quiz: 2.1 Nuclear mass and binding energy
  3. Video: 2.2 Nuclear size and spin
  4. Practice Quiz: 2.2 Nuclear size and spin
  5. Video: 2.3 Models of nuclear structure
  6. Video: 2.3a QCD and nuclear force (optional)
  7. Practice Quiz: 2.3 Models of nuclear structure
  8. Video: 2.4 Radioactivity: alpha decay
  9. Video: 2.4a Energy of alpha particles (optional)
  10. Reading: 2.4 Radioactivity: alpha decay
  11. Practice Quiz: 2.4 Radioactivity: alpha decay
  12. Video: 2.5 Beta and gamma decay
  13. Video: 2.5a Exponential decay law (optional)
  14. Practice Quiz: 2.5 Beta and gamma decay
  15. Video: 2.6 Radioactivity in practice (optional)
  16. Video: 2.7 Radiocarbon dating and NMR imaging
  17. Practice Quiz: 2.7 Radiocarbon dating and NMR imaging
  18. Video: 2.8 Nuclear fission
  19. Practice Quiz: 2.8 Nuclear fission
  20. Video: 2.9 Nuclear power
  21. Practice Quiz: 2.9 Nuclear power
  22. Video: 2.10 Nuclear fusion, the Sun and ITER
  23. Practice Quiz: 2.10 Nuclear fusion, the Sun and ITER
  24. Video: 2.11 The tokamak of EPFL (optional)
  25. Video: 2.12 The Beznau nuclear power plant (optional)

Graded: Graded quiz for Module 2

WEEK 3


Accelerators and detectors



In this module, we treat the basic facts about particle acceleration and detection. This is a rather self-contained module. If your main interest is particle acceleration and detection, you will be well served. You will notice that this is rather substantial module, we recommend that you take two weeks to digest it. We introduce electromagnetic acceleration and focalisation of particle beams and show how they are used in the accelerator complex of CERN. We describe how charged particles and photons interact with matter and how these interactions are used to detect particles and measure their properties. And we show how modern particle detectors use the synergies between different detection methods to get exhaustive information about the final state of particle collisions.


14 videos, 3 readings, 9 practice quizzes expand


  1. Video: 3.1 Principles of particle acceleration
  2. Video: 3.1a Cyclotron frequency (optional)
  3. Practice Quiz: 3.1 Principles of particle acceleration
  4. Video: 3.2 Acceleration and focalisation
  5. Video: 3.2a The CERN accelerator complex (optional)
  6. Practice Quiz: 3.2 Acceleration and focalisation
  7. Video: 3.3 Components of the LHC (optional)
  8. Video: 3.4 Heavy particles in matter
  9. Practice Quiz: 3.4 Heavy particles in matter
  10. Video: 3.5 Light particles in matter
  11. Practice Quiz: 3.5 Light particles in matter
  12. Video: 3.6 Photons in matter
  13. Practice Quiz: 3.6 Photons in matter
  14. Video: 3.7 Ionisation detectors
  15. Practice Quiz: 3.7 Ionisation detectors
  16. Video: 3.8 Semiconductor detectors
  17. Practice Quiz: 3.8 Semiconductor detectors
  18. Video: 3.9 Scintillation and Cherenkov detectors
  19. Reading: 3.9 Scintillation and Cherenkov detectors
  20. Practice Quiz: 3.9 Scintillation and Cherenkov detectors
  21. Video: 3.10 Spectrometers and calorimeters
  22. Video: 3.10a Particle detection with ATLAS (optional)
  23. Reading: 3.10 Spectrometers and calorimeters
  24. Practice Quiz: 3.10 Spectrometers and calorimeters
  25. Video: 3.11 Particle detectors at DPNC (optional)
  26. Reading: 3.11 Particle detectors at DPNC (optional)

Graded: Graded quiz for Module 3

WEEK 4


Electromagnetic interactions



We now start a series of three modules discussing the three fundamental forces described by the Standard Model of particle physics. In this forth module, we go into more details about the properties of electromagnetic interactions. We discuss spin and how it intervenes in measurements. And we give a few examples of basic electromagnetic processes to point out common features. You will notice that the intellectual challenge and also the level of mathematical description rises somewhat as we go along. This is why we first remind you how to describe the intensity of a reaction using the cross section and the decay rate and how to construct a Feynman diagram.


7 videos, 5 practice quizzes expand


  1. Video: 4.1 Reminder: Describing particle interactions
  2. Video: 4.1a How to construct a Feynman diagram (optional)
  3. Practice Quiz: 4.1 Reminder: Describing particle interactions
  4. Video: 4.2 Electromagnetic scattering
  5. Practice Quiz: 4.2 Electromagnetic scattering
  6. Video: 4.3 Spin and magnetic moment
  7. Video: 4.3a Motion in a Penning Trap
  8. Practice Quiz: 4.3 Spin and magnetic moment
  9. Video: 4.4 Compton scattering and pair annihilation
  10. Practice Quiz: 4.4 Compton scattering and pair annihilation
  11. Video: 4.5 Electron-positron annihilation
  12. Practice Quiz: 4.5 Electron-positron annihilation

Graded: Graded quiz for Module 4

WEEK 5


Hadrons and strong interaction



In this module we discuss the structure of hadrons and the properties of strong interactions. We start out by explaining how one uses the scattering of electrons off nucleons to learn about the internal structure of these baryons. Step by step we lead you from elastic scattering, through the excitation of resonances, all the way to deep inelastic processes. You thus learn about the concept of form factors and structure functions and what they tell us about hadron structure. We then discuss the physics behind this and learn about color and the strange features of strong interactions, like asymptotic freedom and confinement.


5 videos, 5 practice quizzes expand


  1. Video: 5.1 Elastic electron-nucleon scattering
  2. Practice Quiz: 5.1 Elastic electron-nucleon scattering
  3. Video: 5.2 Inelastic scattering and quarks
  4. Practice Quiz: 5.2 Inelastic scattering and quarks
  5. Video: 5.3 Quark-antiquark resonances and mesons
  6. Practice Quiz: 5.3 Quark-antiquark resonances and mesons
  7. Video: 5.4 Color and strong interactions
  8. Practice Quiz: 5.4 Color and strong interactions
  9. Video: 5.5 Hadronisation and jets
  10. Practice Quiz: 5.5 Hadronisation and jets

Graded: Graded quiz for Module 5

WEEK 6


Electro-weak interactions



In this 6th module, we discuss weak interactions and the Higgs mechanism. You will notice that this module is again larger that average. This is due to the rich phenomenology of electro-weak interactions. We recommend that you take 2 weeks to digest the contents. Before entering into our subject, in this first video we go into more depth on the subject of antiparticles. We will then discuss the discrete transformations of charge, space and time reversal. Weak interactions are introduced, explaining the weak charge (called weak isospin) and examples of decays and interactions. Properties of the W and Z bosons are detailed. The extremely tiny cross sections of neutrino interactions with matter are discussed. In the last part of the module, we explain how the Higgs mechanism keeps particles from moving at the speed of light, and the properties of the associated Higgs boson.


13 videos, 12 practice quizzes expand


  1. Video: 6.1 Particles and antiparticles
  2. Practice Quiz: 6.1 Particles and antiparticles
  3. Video: 6.2 The discrete transformations C, P and T
  4. Practice Quiz: 6.2 The discrete transformations C, P and T
  5. Video: 6.3 Weak charges and interactions
  6. Practice Quiz: 6.3 Weak charges and interactions
  7. Video: 6.4 Muon and tau lepton decay
  8. Practice Quiz: 6.4 Muon and tau lepton decay
  9. Video: 6.5 The W boson
  10. Practice Quiz: 6.5 The W boson
  11. Video: 6.6 The Z boson
  12. Practice Quiz: 6.6 The Z boson
  13. Video: 6.7 Weak decays of quarks
  14. Practice Quiz: 6.7 Weak decays of quarks
  15. Video: 6.8 Particle-antiparticle oscillations and CP violation
  16. Practice Quiz: 6.8 Particle-antiparticle oscillations and CP violation
  17. Video: 6.9 Neutrino scattering
  18. Practice Quiz: 6.9 Neutrino scattering
  19. Video: 6.10 Neutrino oscillations
  20. Practice Quiz: 6.10 Neutrino oscillations
  21. Video: 6.11 The Higgs mechanism
  22. Practice Quiz: 6.11 The Higgs mechanism
  23. Video: 6.12 The Higgs boson
  24. Practice Quiz: 6.12 The Higgs boson
  25. Video: 6.13 The discovery of the Higgs boson (optional)

Graded: Graded quiz for Module 6

WEEK 7


Discovering new phenomena



In this 7th module Anna discusses searches for new phenomena, beyond the known ones described by the standard model and covered in previous modules. We will remind you why we believe that the standard model is incomplete and new physics must be added. We will explain how hadron collider data are rendered usable for searches. And we will discuss examples, split into the two categories, based on how new phenomena might manifest themselves.


5 videos, 4 practice quizzes expand


  1. Video: 7.1 The world beyond the Standard Model
  2. Practice Quiz: 7.1 The world beyond the Standard Model
  3. Video: 7.2 Sifting chaff from the wheat
  4. Practice Quiz: 7.2 Sifting chaff from the wheat
  5. Video: 7.3 Hunting peaks
  6. Practice Quiz: 7.3 Hunting peaks
  7. Video: 7.4 Hunting tails
  8. Practice Quiz: 7.4 Hunting tails
  9. Video: 7.5 Hunting new physics with LHCb (optional)

Graded: Graded quiz for Module 7

WEEK 8


Dark matter and dark energy



5 videos, 3 practice quizzes expand


  1. Video: 8.1 The Big Bang and its consequences
  2. Practice Quiz: 8.1 The Big Bang and its consequences
  3. Video: 8.2 Dark matter
  4. Practice Quiz: 8.2 Dark matter
  5. Video: 8.3 Dark energy
  6. Video: 8.3a Motivating the Friedmann equation (optional)
  7. Practice Quiz: 8.3 Dark energy
  8. Video: 8.4 What hides behind dark matter and dark energy? (optional)

Graded: Graded quiz for Module 8

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