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Merton College, Oxford
750 Years: Sustaining Excellence
750 Years: Sustaining Excellence


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We wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
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Our Junior Research Fellow in Physics +Nick Ryder has written this short report on a recent trip to the LHC exhibit at the +Science Museum.
LHC exhibit at the Science Museum in London

Yesterday I went to the +Science Museum's Collider exhibit. I went with some of my colleagues from +Merton College, Oxford and their families. Since I spent a few years working on the ATLAS experiment (and a little time on CMS too) I mostly went so that they could ask me interesting questions as we went through the exhibit.

There are two parts to the exhibit. First you watch the a short video presentation and then you walk through the exhibit itself. I found that the video presentation disturbing and fairly off-putting. It didn't really explain any physics. Instead it tried to make it seem that the Higgs discovery was a single event that the previous years of research had been leading up to. There were three characters in the video. One of which was a graduate student who claimed to be working around the clock, inspired by the death of her father and borderline mentally unstable. It wasn't am image of particle physicists that I recognised (OK, very rarely people work around the clock, but if it is more than very rarely it's only because they have terrible supervisors) and I don't know why the museum thought it was a good image to present to the public.

The exhibition itself was excellent. There were a number of accelerator and detector objects on display which were explained quite well. I really liked the presentation methods used too. For example one room is set out like an office at CERN, with some basic particle physics displayed in a hand drawn way on the white boards in the office. Later there's a table that has information projected onto it from above that I thought looked great.

For me the most fun part of the trip was the questions from other fellows at my college (ranging from mathematicians to  literature professors. I find it quite challenging to explain the Higgs boson to non-physicists, and I always like explaining how the particle detectors actually work since I still find them amazing despite working with them for a few years now.

I'd be really interested to hear how non-physicists found the exhibit. If you've been then please let me know in the comments. If you've not been and find yourself in or near London then I'd recommend you check it out.
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