• Question: What does your research do to help us understand more about?

    Asked by Nana to Stewart, Miriam, Marton, Laura, Kathryn, David on 8 Nov 2018.
    • Photo: David Ho

      David Ho answered on 8 Nov 2018:

      I study a type of particle called a “magnetic monopole”. All the magnets we’ve ever found in nature have a North and a South pole, and you can’t split the two — if you cut a magnet in half you get two more magnets, each with North and South poles. As you can probably tell from the word, a monopole would just be a North or a South pole on its own.

      If we can find these particles, we’ll be able to work out a lot more about the universe beyond what we already know. The reason for this is because they would be formed in really hot conditions that are very similar to the very early stages of the universe just after the Big Bang — studying these particles might tell us more about the origins of the universe or the rules that govern it.

    • Photo: Stewart Martin-Haugh

      Stewart Martin-Haugh answered on 8 Nov 2018:

      I work directly on the computer system for an experiment at the Large Hadron Collider. Thousands of scientists are coming together to ask lots of questions:
      – how does gravity work
      – what is 95% of the universe (the “dark matter”) made up of?
      – are there more particles we don’t know about?

      The computer system I work on helps to answer all of these questions. If it didn’t work, the experiment would completely fail. I don’t directly look for an answer to any of the questions, but my computer programs look at all the data.

    • Photo: Kathryn Coldham

      Kathryn Coldham answered on 8 Nov 2018:

      I research a very heavy particle called the “top quark”. The top quark is about 170 times heavier than the proton and, because of this, it is very unstable so decays in less than a millionth of a millionth of a millionth of a millionth of a second! It is very interesting to study the ways in which it can be made in detectors, the particles it decays into and its different properties (such as getting precise measurements of its mass). Researching these will hopefully help us to answer many questions, such as: why is the top quark so heavy? It also tests what we know about the Standard Model, which is a theory that describes all of the elementary particles (particles that cannot be broken down any further). If we carry out a study that involves the top quark and our answers disagree with those predicted by the Standard Model, it may suggest the Standard Model isn’t right, so we’d have to think of a better theory to describe all of the elementary particles and their interactions. It’s all very exciting!

    • Photo: Marton Olbei

      Marton Olbei answered on 9 Nov 2018:

      I study how a group of bacteria, Salmonella, have adapted to their hosts over thousands of years. Some of these bacteria can infect almost anyone they come in contact with, but some of them specialise on just one or two animals (like humans or cows). I’m trying to figure why and how this happened!