EPS education division visits ATLAS

11 February 2008

Erik Johansson and the EPS board members

Not all ATLAS visits go quite according to plan. "When we arrived at Point One on 25th January, there was a big crowd outside," says Erik Johansson, the ATLAS co-coordinator of the ATLAS Education and Outreach project. "There are quite a few visits to ATLAS. If they can’t go down into the pit the crowd quickly adds up outside."

But the ATLAS visitors in question were prepared to wait. Erik was showing the European Physical Society (EPS) education division board members the ATLAS detector.

"Twice a year, we have a board meeting," says Erik. "We try to organise them at Physics Education conferences so there’s a logical reason why people should meet – we don’t have much travelling money." But a meeting at CERN was too tempting for the board members to miss.

"When I said we would be visiting ATLAS, everyone wanted to come," says Erik. "It was supposed to be a telephone meeting, but instead, everyone decided to skip the telephone meeting and said 'We’re coming!'"

The board members had already heard a lot about ATLAS. "Nice, amazing, fantastic were words muttered during the visit," says Erik. "So it wasn’t so different from other visits." One of the ATLAS sides was wide open making it possible to see the Big Wheel and more of the inside of the ATLAS barrel than before, he adds.

During the last few years the European Physical Society has been a keen supporter of the European (now the International) Particle Physics Masterclasses. The Physics Education and the High Energy Particle Physics divisions have both supported this innovative and expanding particle physics project (see ATLAS e-news September 2007), which is becoming more and more LHC oriented as we are approaching the start of LHC and with new ATLAS student exercises under development.

Like the ATLAS Education and Outreach project, the Physics Education Division of EPS wants to strengthen the perception of the physics in society and promote contacts between schoolteachers and scientists.

"I think the conferences should be about today’s physics," says Erik. "In the last conference, which we held in Croatia last August, we got George Smoot – the 2006 Nobel laureate in physics – to give a talk. That’s the standard we would like. But, of course, we’re not just interested in Nobel laureates!"


Colin Barras

Erik Johansson

Stockholm University

Colin Barras