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The sounds of the LHC

Update: 24 June 2010

Funded from the STFC’s Science in Society Small Awards scheme a team of scientists from UCL headed up by Dr Lily Asquith have successfully simulated what sounds the elusive Higgs Boson, nicknamed ‘the God Particle’ in the media, will make when they are produced at the Large Hadron Collider.

Read the story in full on the BBC News (link opens in a new window) website.

Mr E O’Flaherty H504703/1
University College London

LHCsound: Sonification of the ATLAS data output

 Award £7,500.00

This project has a vision to attract the largest number of people to the results of the LHC experiments in a way that is novel, exciting and accessible. The aim is to sonify the LHC/ATLAS data. It is envisaged that current state of the art techniques as employed in the music industry will produce an audio representation of the LHC data which it is believed will be musically interesting and therefore engage and involve people who would not ordinarily have access to or interest in, the ongoing experiments at CERN.
The software framework (CDP) designed to enable composers to generate music synthetically shares the same file format (XML) as the existing ATLANTIS software which visually displays ATLAS data. In this project it is hoped to combine CDP with ATLANTIS to develop a sonic representation of ATLAS data. There will be the exciting prospect of developing relationships between LHC physicists and professional musicians.

Science in Society - Small Awards scheme 2009B - other successful applicants

Dr B C Allanach H504762/1
University of Cambridge

Science at music festivals (Guerilla Science Club)

Award £7,500.00

This project uses a blend of discussion, debate, art, live experiments and talks at the Secret Garden party music festival in the summer of 2010. A tented stand will be erected and it is hoped to communicate, enthuse and encourage the general public (mainly adults over 18 years of age) about various aspects of science and technology.

Miss M James H504838/1
Urdd Gobaith Cymru

Astronomy at the Urdd National Eisteddfod 2010

Award £7,500.00

The Urdd National Eisteddfod is an annual youth festival attracting close to 100,000 visitors over a six day period (31st May- 5th June 2010.) In 2010 the venue will be the beautiful Llanerchaeron Estate in the County of Ceredigion. This rural location contrasts with Cardiff Bay 2009 and Swansea 2011. The grant from STFC will make a contribution to the cost of erecting a Science Pavilion and other incidental costs. The Pavilion will provide an excellent platform for promoting STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics) to the general community and in particular to the11-16 age group, together with their teachers and parents. There will be a variety of exhibits interactive and visual displays to raise interest and awareness in Astronomy and Space Science. Teachers will have the benefit of a secondary school teacher’s workshop. Activities which bridge performing arts and science e.g. Physics Busking by STEM Ambassadors and an Astronomy inspired dance workshop led by a professional dance practitioner are also included.

Professor A Khan H504711/1
Brunel University

Particles of the Universe – interviews from the edge of discovery

Award £4,000.00

An interactive website is to be created which will provide an online resource based on the discovery of the Standard Model of fundamental particles studied by today’s scientists. The material will be in the form of in-depth video interviews with the actual discoverers. There will be photographs of the people concerned and the particle physics experiments that have been used and are being used to build on the Standard Model. A set of Posters will be designed for each discovery. This resource will be used by especially by pupils and teachers and also the general public. Listeners will be enabled to get a richer understanding of the scientific method and discoveries. The interviews will provide not only an important source of information relevant to the global interest in the research being carried out at the LHC (Large Hadron Collider) but in addition the personal views of the scientists and their desire to understand the world around them and to discover what makes the world the way it is.

Mr S P Jago H50497/1

Earth Space- Reaching wider in Wales 

Award £7,500.00

It is hoped to introduce a new audience, pupils aged 11-14 years old (Key Stage 3) who live in remote and disadvantaged communities in Wales, to STFC research in astronomy, solar system and space science. This project will build on work with schools in North West Wales (around Beddgelert, Port Madog, Caernarvon and Bangor) which was piloted by the “Back down to Earth” STFC Large Award 2008.

The programme will use innovative and inspiring ways to engage approximately 2,700 pupils during 2010/2011 who live within disadvantaged communities in STFC research.

Techniquest will reach the target audience through a network of four regional outreach hubs, (Cardiff, Llanberis, Swansea and Wrexham).  Techniquest trained presenters will take this education programme to pupils in their own schools and communities. For pupils most in need these programmes will be delivered free of charge. There will be presentations on: The Earth, The Moon, The Universe and the Solar System. Discussion will follow. A star tour will be delivered in a mobile planetarium.

Dr R Wheldon Williams H504446/1
National Eisteddfod of Wales

National Eisteddfod – Dark Sky Wales

Award £5,300.00

The National Eisteddfod is the premier cultural festival of Wales, held mainly in Welsh. It is an 8 day festival held annually in August at different locations. In 2010 Ebbw Vale is the location, an area which is one of the most deprived in Wales. There will be a Science and Technology pavilion, the main theme this year will be Space Science. It is anticipated some 27,000 people will attend the Science Exhibition.

Some of the specific aims of this project are to:

  • Promote and raise interest and excitement in Astronomy through the medium of Welsh and English
  • Promote awareness of Dark Sky Wales
  • Inspire  young people (11-16) to take up opportunities in STEM subjects and to consider a career in Space Science
  • To make science accessible to pupils in underprivileged and remote areas in Wales and more specifically the Welsh Valleys
  • Raise awareness of exciting STFC funded projects in Wales e.g. Herschel (SPIRE), Planck, Aurora

Activities that will be arranged, a brand new Welsh show called “Night Sky Adventure”, solar observing, lectures and debates, and live observing of the Cosmos.

Dr C Lazzeroni H504638/1
University of Birmingham

Particle-Physics Manager : LHC Startup Edition

Award £3,000.00

This project will develop a piece of computer software in the form of a strategy-based computer game "Particle-Physics Manager", and will introduce it to school students in the 14-16 age range.  This is a single-player game, where the player takes overall responsibility for a large-scale particle-physics experiment at a new high-energy hadron collider.  The player must try to make optimum use of the available resources, managing the experiment's activities from data design to data analysis, having a top priority of finding the Higgs Boson, but keeping an eye open for other exciting physics opportunities.

The grant will provide funds for an undergraduate summer student to work on the game development; small rewards for 20 game testers (aged 14-16); printing of leaflets and flyers; and travel, mainly in the Birmingham area.


Dr H Mason H50462/1
University of Cambridge

Sun|trek- the Final Frontier

Award £6,000.00

The Sun|trek website was launched 2 years ago. This has been a huge success, with around 10,000 users per month. The funding will allow the site to be enhanced and updated. It is also hoped to reach even more schools in the UK.

The sections relating to Earth’s energy, climate change, and Factary will be updated. Classroom resources will be reviewed in the light of modern technological developments. There will be an overhaul of the Solar Guides pages so that teachers can make contact with local solar guides more readily via an interactive map. More promotional material will be produced and Sun|trek will be promoted locally and nationally via IOP, ASE, music festivals school visits .

Mr T J Miall H504770/1
Twyford Church of England High School

“Antarctica: Mars on Earth Science competition”

Award £2,750.00

In the autumn of 2010 the applicant will spend some 6 weeks in Antarctica. A competition will be launched in January 2010 both locally and nationally and students will be encouraged to put together Mars themed and engineering projects. It is hoped to hold workshops in local schools from January to June. Entries will be submitted in July and the best projects chosen in September. The selected projects will be taken to Antarctica and the Applicant and three other science teachers will work on them. Prizes will also be awarded to the competition winners.

Ms C A Watkins H504670/1
Honeysuckle Direction

How not to be afraid of the dark

Award £2,300.00

This project explores the connections between astronomy and poetry and the way scientific ideas can challenge and take root in the mind of an ordinary individual. This is a combined performance of reading and talk. In 2009 a pilot project (funded by the Royal Astronomical Society and Ledbury Poetry festival) was launched in Ledbury. This was extremely successful and it is now hoped with the funding provided extra performances can be staged. Several Science Centres are very keen to stage such performances. The first section combines 18th century astronomical poetry with an engaging contemporary monologue and the second section delivers a range of poetry readings and commentary by Professor Jocelyn Bell.

Dr D Bewsher H504362/1
University of Central Lancashire

Living with a Star

Award £7,000.00

This outreach project aims to enthuse students about solar-terrestrial physics and hence STEM subjects in general, by providing a lively entertaining exhibition at the Big Bang Fair in Manchester in 2010. This will build upon the successful “Living with a Star” stand at the Royal Society Summer Exhibition 2007. This event will also be used to make contacts with local teachers and provide follow up outreach visits to local schools. Funding will defray travel and accommodation costs for exhibitors and for additional material for the stand.

Dr F Diego H504511/1
University College London

Universe today: cosmology, astrophysics and technology in your classroom

Award £7,500.00

Three high quality video clips (mini films) will be produced on the following topics:

  • Cosmology: Origin and development of the Universe, from fundamental particles to human beings.
  • Astrophysics, the relevance of stars, stellar evolution, nucleosynthesis, star and planet formation
  • Astronomical technology, starlight, quantum mechanics, spectroscopy, applications from the expansion of the universe to the discovery of exoplanets

Science teachers will have the benefit of valuable audio visual material about cosmology, astrophysics and their associated technology to be used in the classroom. STFC space sciences will be promoted amongst the UK school community. There will be opportunities to show the material at other venues e.g. music festivals.

Dr S Gage H504646/1
Edinburgh International Science Festival

“Journey to the origins of the Universe”

Award £6,400.00

The aim of this project is to stage a series of engaging and exciting physics related events which will appeal to young adults, families, the general public and those with no previous engagement with science. The star attraction will be the event “Journey to the origins of the Universe” This event will explore the origins of the Universe, basics of Particle Physics, the origins of matter and crucially what the scientific community is trying to discover through the Large Hadron Collider at CERN.

Mr J Spooner H504646/1
Unlimited Theatre


Award £7,500.00

“Big Bang” is a new play, created for children, by children. It will be about the universe, the Big Bang, particle physics and seeing that from a child’s perspective. This is a show about big things and very small things, matter and the things that matter. Set in Space and the not too distant future it is about two people working together in difficult circumstances to achieve incredible things.

This play has been commissioned by Polka Theatre. Unlimited’s core creative team will write “Big Bang” for production September /October 2010 as the main event in Polka’s autumn programme. The award of £7,500.00 will fund the cost of a two week retreat involving writers, designers and scientists covering travel fees accommodation and per diems. It is hoped that this show will be awe inspiring and show the wonder, beauty and enormity of the universe.

Last updated: 30 November 2015


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