Saturday, February 09, 2008

B is for Beauty

University of Liverpool particle physicist Tara Shears and physics teacher and science writer Alom Shaha have created, a new site for communicating science to the public through video. Not surprisingly, most of the videos posted so far focus on particle physics.

"B is For Beauty" features Dr. Shears and a few of her colleagues at the University of Liverpool talking about matter, antimatter and the Large Hadron Collider . From the description:

Thanks to Star Trek and Dan Brown’s Angels & Demons, most of us are familiar with the notion of antimatter – a “mirror-version” of the matter that makes up the world around us. Many science fiction writers have used the fact that matter and anti-matter explode whe ways of powering super-fast space ships or blowing things up. There’s usually an abundant supply of anti-matter in these stories but in the real world, it can only be created in particle accelerators and then only in absolutely minute amounts. Hopefully the [Large Hadron Collider] will provide enough of it to allow scientists like Tara a chance to try and better understand the differences between the two types of matter.

Tara explains “particle physics deals with what the universe is made of and how things behave to make the universe look the way it does. One of the great mysteries that remains is why the universe went from being made of equal quantities of matter and antimatter to being one made entirely of matter”. The key to answering this question is to look at the tiny differences between matter and antimatter particles. The “beauty” quark is particularly good for probing this question because b-quarks and anti-b-quarks behave “more differently” than other particles and their antimatter counterparts.

Shears' passion for particle physics comes through loud and clear. She also narrates "Hunting for the Higgs", "The Matter with Antimatter", "Sizing Things Up" and "The Mystery of the Missing Mass" (that sounds like it would make a great title for a detective novel).

More information about the video and the LHC.

(via Confessions of a Science Librarian)

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