Release Date: August 12, 2008
BUFFALO, N.Y. -- If you have always wanted to know something about particle physics (but were afraid to ask), eight Western New York high school students have it covered, thanks to the University at Buffalo Physics and Arts Summer Institute.
At the UB institute, these students, proficient in both art and physics, have created artistic and interactive displays that are now on exhibit in UB's Department of Physics, on the third floor of Fronczyk Hall on the UB North (Amherst) Campus.
During the two-week institute, the students developed artistic and interactive displays, along with a Web page (http://www.physics.buffalo.edu/ubexpo) and a tour that members of the public can take. Educational and artistic displays from previous Physics and Arts Summer Institute sessions also are included in the exhibit.
The students unveiled the new exhibit Aug. 11 to family and friends at a reception.
The students focused their creations on the phenomena of "symmetry," and "symmetry breaking," basic scientific questions that will be explored when the world's most powerful particle accelerator, the Large Hadron Collider, begins smashing atoms in September in Geneva, Switzerland.
According to Doreen Wackeroth, Ph.D., associate professor in the UB Department of Physics in the College of Arts and Sciences, those experiments will help scientists deepen their understanding of the most basic questions in science, such as: What are the very smallest building blocks of matter?
The new pieces created by the high school students include abstract artwork that demonstrates artistic symmetry and an interactive magnetic heat engine, which shows how some materials lose their magnetism when heated and then regain it when they cool down, a phenomenon similar to what scientists think happens when the infamous Higgs particle is formed.
"Since the Higgs particle is thought to be responsible for the masses of all particles, these efforts ultimately aim at solving one of the great mysteries of particle physics: Why do particles have mass?" explained Wackeroth, who runs the workshop with funding from the National Science Foundation.
The following students attended the UB Physics and Arts Summer Institute:
Megan Baker of Lockport from Lockport High School; Alexander Breindel of Buffalo from Canisius High School; Lindsey Newton, Jennifer Rechin and Mackenzie Weiland, all of Tonawanda, from North Tonawanda Senior High School; Steven Polowy of Athol Springs from Saint Francis High School; Derek Robins of Buffalo from Nichols School, and Joseph Schwamborn of Depew from Depew High School.
Also participating in the UB institute were: Kevin Cullinan in the College of Arts and Sciences Machine Shop, Gary Nickard, UB professor of visual studies, James O'Leary, a UB student, Craig Uhrich, an instructor from the Depew School District, Dejan Stojkovic, Ph.D., assistant professor of physics at UB, and Patty Wallace, a Williamsville media artist.
The exhibit is open to the public. To make an appointment to see the exhibit, contact the Department of Physics at 645-2017.
The University at Buffalo is a premier research-intensive public university, a flagship institution in the State University of New York system and its largest and most comprehensive campus. UB's more than 28,000 students pursue their academic interests through more than 300 undergraduate, graduate and professional degree programs. Founded in 1846, the University at Buffalo is a member of the Association of American Universities.