The Galton Board
In many instances in physics we are confronted with data with a given degree of randomness or noise, and we want to find an unknown model that explains the data.
The exhibit shows how computer simulation can help solving physics problem.
As the steel balls roll down, they scatter off the needles and a hidden shape, but just from looking at the collection bins, it is hard to work out the shape directly.
Throwing a ball in the Galton board could represent a in a particle accelerator, and the hidden order that we want to uncover would be analogous to the existence of a new particle whose interactions affect the outcome of the collisions. What can be done, however, is to simulate the board with different hidden shapes and compare the outcome. If the simulation matches the experiment result, then there is a strong chance to guess the unknown object.
With our Galton board, you will be given the possibility to run the simulation choosing the shape of the hidden object that better describes the result of the physical experiment. The procedure at the LHC is very similar; simulated data of various is compared with the measured data points. The more data we collect, the better the comparison becomes at distinguishing between different options. We run these simulations with Rasberry Pi‘s, who liked our work so much, they wrote a blog post about it.
If you know how to use git repository and python, or you are just curios to see how a simulation code looks like, you can find the source code here. Beware of the highly geeky content!
Dark Matter Detector
One could try to build a specifically designed to give a signal if a Dark Matter particle passes through it.
However, since Dark Matter interacts very weakly, the chances to detect a Dark Matter particle are very small. Furthermore, the radiation emitted by materials around us and the muons created by cosmic rays in the atmosphere produce a signal in the detector. For example, a muon passes through your hand every two seconds and therefore, the high frequency of these fake signals makes detecting a Dark Matter particle even more challenging.
In order to increase the odds of discovering a Dark Matter particle, one could, for example:
- bury the detector deep underground so that the cosmic muons get stopped by the rocks within the Earth
- shield the detector to stop the photons and electrons emitted by the rocks around the detector and the natural radioactivity
- improve the purity and the quality of the surrounding shield’s material, so that it does not emit any radioactivity that could be confused with a signal.
This sounds simple, but one needs to make sure that the cost of the experiment stays within budget. Maximizing the chances of discovery keeping the expenses in mind then becomes a dificult task!
With our replica you will be able see how the above factors affects the experiment. The most ideal scenario would be to completely remove the background signals, but to leave the dark matter signals untouched. Some techinques will also be needed to maximise the background reduction.