PANIC11 - Rutherford Centennial



For those of you who wish to learn more about the nature of the particles that make up our universe, several links are listed below. These links provide information ranging from the fascinating discoveries that are being made today to the basics and origin of particle and nuclear physics.


Websites for the Basics

For starters, there are several great websites to help new students of particle and nuclear science get a solid understanding of the basic topics. Each of these links is extremely useful for getting a sense of the different aspects of these sciences.

Particle Adventure
Particle Adventure is a great resource to gain a general understanding of different particles and concepts. It features interactive quizzes and detailed explanations (including excellent pictures!)

Particle Adventure History Section
Particle physics has a deep and intricate history, evolving from theories involving the atom as the allegedly indivisible particle at the base of matter to the current Standard Model. Particle Adventure provides a thorough timeline of the major events and discoveries that paved the way to our current understanding of particle physics.

Virtual Visitor Center at SLAC
Just as its name suggests, SLAC’s Virtual Visitor Center is meant to provide detailed, involved explanations of various aspects of particle physics. This site uses many high-quality images and intricate descriptions, and a thoughtful layout, to make navigation and learning straightforward and easy.

For an intricate and straightforward introduction to general topics of particle and nuclear physics, Kuro5hin is a great resource. These links include thorough descriptions of several important topics, with particular focus on more significant aspects of them for current research.

Introduction to Standard Model
Particle Physics
Weak Interaction
Electroweak Interaction

CERN BriefBook
The CERN BriefBook is essentially a particle physics encyclopedia. Virtually every major concept is treated to a thorough explanation that is understandable to those who have not seen particle physics before, but at the same time useful for practicing researchers.

Explain it in 60 seconds
This link includes many quick, straightforward explanations of general concepts of nuclear and particle physics. As the name suggests, it does a great job at getting ideas across in a concise and simple manner.

Stucture of Matter
This site offers a brief overview of the structure of the atomic nuclei, including several helpful animations and illustrations. Links in the sidebar lead to related topics such as accelerators, quantum physics, and x-rays.

Higgs Boson
This site offers a great and thorough explanation of the infamous Higgs Boson in terms that someone with no physics training at all can understand.



Neutrinos are one of the most difficult particles for physicists to study. Aside from having unbelievably small mass, neutrinos also have neutral charge, so they barely interact with any other particles. They can even pass freely through the earth! The first two links offer detailed explanations of the nature of neutrinos, while the latter two are links to the enormous detectors currently operating with the goal of detecting neutrinos. To give a sense of how difficult this task is, it should be mentioned that IceCube, a detector hidden within Antarctic ice, is a full cubic kilometer in size!
Ice Cube
Super Kamiokande
Inquiring Minds
Science at Fermilab

The above two sites, both run through Fermilab, are great resources for learning about the Standard Model or for getting a sense of the type of work that Fermilab conducts. Both sites attempt to make the material accessible to anyone, regardless of past exposure to particle physics, making them great starting points to develop a stronger understanding.

Similarly, the links below, also run through Fermilab, are simplified explanations of actual published results. These versions are meant for the public and so should be understandable to anyone even without experience with physics research.

DO Run I

High-Energy Physics Made Painless
Finally, Fermilab also has developed a series meant to ‘painlessly’ explain the basics of high-energy particle physics by using everyday language to discuss less everyday concepts.


String Theory

Everyone has heard of string theory, but very few people really understand what it is or what implications it has. These three introductory links all offer down-to-earth, simplified explanations of one of the most exciting theories in particle physics, so that one can grasp a basic idea of the meaning behind it.

Most major labs also try to support the growth of those who are only recently discovering the field or who wish to learn more about the work being done. The links collected below direct to the education pages of the major research facilities. The pages include such things as internship applications, research descriptions, and general explanations of concepts in particle physics that are vital for such labs.

Jefferson Lab

QuarkNet is run through Fermilab’s website, and is an excellent resource for students and teachers alike who wish to get more involved or gain a deeper understanding of particle physics. It provides ideas for classroom projects, flash games to broaden one’s understanding, and a variety of other useful tools.

Fermilab's Educational Projects
This link offers specially modified explanations of the Standard Model and some of Fermilab’s research in language that anyone can understand. It is a great resource for beginners to get a sense of what kind of problems still exist today.

High Energy Physics PowerPoint
This Power Point Presentation is a great resource for images and general descriptions of concepts, but, as a Power Point Presentation, it lacks some finer description of certain topics, so this is best used as a resource for images or to see the connections between various concepts after learning the basics.



Research Centers

There are also several major research centers that are leading the way in particle physics. The following are their homepages.

CERN is the laboratory of the LHC, the well known particle accelerator that some feared would create a black hole when it first turned on. Of course, this was wrong, and the LHC is finding fascinating new information as it begins the search for the Higgs Boson. It also can accelerate different heavy ions. One experiment at CERN recently managed to create several particles of antihydrogen, which is basically hydrogen with the proton having negative charge and the electron being positive!

Brookhaven National Laboratory
Brookhaven National Laboratory is the US government’s base lab for the ATLAS detector experiment that is being used at the LHC. It is host to the National Synchrotron Light Source and the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider, which collides gold nuclei at essentially the speed of light! It has achieved temperatures as high as 4 trillion degrees Celsius in its experiments, which helps researches learn about the nature of matter at the earliest times of the universe. (For more info on the RHIC, see here ).

Many people hear of the LHC at CERN, which is the largest particle accelerator around, but very few people have heard of SLAC. SLAC is actually the longest linear particle accelerator, since the LHC is circular. Six scientists have received Nobel Prizes for their work at SLAC, including Burton Richter and Martin L. Perl, who each discovered entirely new particles in their experiments. For more information about the history of SLAC and the work conducted there, please visit here .

DESY is the German particle physics research lab and is host to a high energy electron accelerator and light source. It performs experiments in virtually all branches of particle physics, but, as an example, it recently completed the construction and installation of a particle detector that rests inside of Antarctic ice. The detector is used to find neutrinos, tiny chargeless particles that usually pass right through matter.

Fermilab is a federally supported research center that works in both physics research and applying particle physics to current technologies to advance our level of technology. They also own the Tevatron, a particle accelerator capable of reaching TeV’s of energy as its name suggests, which will be running until the end of this year. Fermilab is also working on a new neutrino program, including NOVA, which will focus mostly on determining the physical traits of neutrinos. Be sure to check out their Fermilab Result of the Week, where they publish new results of ongoing experiments each week. For more information on Fermilab's history and it's many accomplishments, see here .

KEK is Japan’s high-energy physics research organization. It owns two particle accelerators, one of which is currently focusing on the Belle experiment, an international experiment focusing on CP-violation, which refers to parts of physics that are asymmetrical in key ways with regard to charge (C) and parity (P), which refers to left and right.

Jefferson Lab
Jefferson Lab, or JLab, uses the Continuous Electron Beam Accelerator Facility (CEBAF) much like a high powered microscope. It allows them to essentially see the movements and interactions of particles on the scale of protons and neutrons. To see a timeline of events that have occurred through or involving Jefferson Lab, click here .

Bates Linear Accelerator
The Bates Linear Accelerator is a particle accelerator on MIT’s own campus. It has been involved in many recent experiments including BLAST, which explores, among other things, the substructure of particles like the neutron or proton.



National Agencies

There are a few national agencies that also participate in research indirectly, mostly through providing funding to major labs and research projects across the country.

National Science Foundation
The National Science Foundation provides funding and support broadly in all branches of scientific research. Examples of particle physics research funded through the NSF include a discovery of a way to manipulate a single electron without influencing its neighbors, which could open up a door towards the construction of quantum computers, an entirely new type of computer compared to our current digital ones.

US Department of Energy and the Office of Science
The Department of Energy’s Office of Science supports the large scientific facilities, including Fermilab, JLab, and Brookhaven National Lab. They back many of the research centers and the equipment necessary in each of them. The Department of Energy, as its name suggests, has particular interest in applications and sources of ‘new energy’ such as solar or nuclear power.



Recent Discoveries & Research

There are also various resources to hear about more recent discoveries and research in particle physics. The more major and expansive ones are listed below. is great resource for news about current particle physics research and discoveries. Below are the links to it’s photo gallery, as well as a link to a list of websites of affiliated research centers. In the gallery, one can find many pictures of both the equipment used in may experiments, and some of the outcomes of the experiments as well!

Interactions Links Page
Has links to Homepages, Photos, News, and Press Releases for many Particle Physics-related Laboratories.

Interactions Photo Page Symmetry Magazine
Symmetry Magazine is published as a combined effort from both Fermilab and SLAC, making it a wide-ranging and active source for all kinds of information. One can find various articles just from the home page alone, as well as several actual papers related to recent work in the field.
Exactly as the name suggests, lightsources focuses mostly on sources of light. This includes both news reports and a vast image bank, allowing visitors to get a sense of the work that is being done and the feel of the experience.

Many major labs also have daily updates on current experiments, data, and discoveries as links through their home pages. For the sake of convenience, the major ones are listed below.

Fermilab Today
Brookhaven Bulletin
Jefferson Lab
SLAC Today
CERN Courier



Papers & Other Publicactions

On top of research centers, there are a number of resources to find papers and other publications regarding nuclear and particle physics.

American Institute of Physics
The American Institute of Physics publishes a number of reliable journals as well as a monthly physics magazine, Physics Today , which allow physicists an opportunity to share and publish their work for scrutiny of their peers and evidence of their work.

HEPAP Publications
This site offers several reports that provide broad and descriptive overviews of current topics in particle physics. The discussions in these reports are extremely useful and up-to-date, but it should be noted that it is best to approach these reports only after gaining a basic understanding of things like the Higgs Boson, the high-energy universe, and other similar topics in particle physics.

American Physical Society
The American Physical Society provides an avenue for publication of physics work much like the AIP does, but another main part of it is that it hosts meetings and events for physicists to congregate and discuss or debate current topics in all parts of physics.



Historical Links

Here are a few other links and websites to provide some extra information. Unlike the previous links, these sites are mostly historical, describing key moments in physics like Rutherford’s famous experiment and the November Revolution.

Rutherford's 1911 Paper

Rutherford was the beginning of everything, in terms of particle and nuclear physics. His pioneering analysis of the deflection of alpha particles off of a thin gold sheet led to the discovery of the nucleus, and also introduced the idea of particle deflection and collision as a research method, which has been indispensible in the past. Below are two links to the text of his paper-the first is as a document, the second as a series of scanned pages.

Text of Paper
Images from Paper

November Revolution

The November Revolution refers to November of 1974, when the J/Psi particle was discovered. This particle was discovered by two labs independently, hence its double name, and consists of a charm quark and an anti-charm quark. The discovery opened up a whole new period of discoveries in particle physics over the next few years.


Some Nobel Prizes at MIT

MIT has several professors in various disciplines who have been awarded Nobel Prizes in the past for their outstanding research and discoveries. Below are a few links to some MIT Physics faculty who have received Nobel Prizes, as well as Wikipedia’s list of all physics Nobel Laureates.

Friedman and Kendall


Check here and here for other years.

More Links

The following links provide you with, you guessed it, more links! There is always more to learn, so if you’re still interested, here are lots of other sites to get you going! Make sure you have a solid understanding of basic topics like the Standard Model, antimatter, spin, and the nuclear forces before you move on.


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Informational Materials

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