Episode 8 – The Future of Particle Physics

Understanding the Universe

Understanding the Universe


In this episode, Dale talks with physicist Don Lincoln of the DZero detector experiment at Fermilab National Accelerator Laboratories. Don talks about physics, Fermilab, his books, and some opportunities for teachers and students with QuarkNet.

Preview from the Show:

Basler: Can you give us an overview of what the [Fermilab] does, and what the facility’s goals are?

Lincoln: My own lab, Fermilab, accelerates protons and antimatter protons near the speed of light and collides them together. Fermilab has some other programs also where we accelerate protons and smash the protons into a target, which is usually some material – nickel or something. And from that, we extract other particles – which could be neutrinos – which is what we’re doing mostly – and experimenting with those as well.?”

Basler: What do you say to the person that says “I hated Physics“??

Lincoln: Well I ask them why they hated physics. Usually they say “well, ‘cuz it was too math oriented and it was difficult”. And I say, “let’s talk about the world. Have you ever wondered why the sun came up?” or things like that. And usually I can get them to talk about some aspect of the world that they’re interested in, and show them that, in fact, the study of physics really is interesting in that it explains an awful lot, and shows these interconnections that they might not be aware of.

Basler: And you have a book that could help out teachers… Tell us a little about that.

Lincoln: Well actually I have two books. The first book…was written intentionally for people who come to my public lectures, because the people who come to the science lectures are usually of course very enthusiastic about science, and they’ve read many of the popular books. This particular book that I wrote, was actually aimed at them, for those who wanted to go a little bit deeper. The second book is not even out yet – it’ll be out in the summer of 2008 – details the new accelerator that is going to be turning on this year in Europe – the large hadron collider, and that one is also aimed at the general audience.

Lincoln: High School teachers can join the QuarkNet program. They will then go and work with the researcher, for perhaps a week during the summer, and get a sense of what research is going on. Then they bring that information back to their classrooms. And for many of the QuarkNet center – of which I think there are 50 currently in the country – they get funded to bring high school students in the laboratory to work for the summer – and they get paid to work even.

Don’s Books:
“Understanding the Universe: From Quarks to the Cosmos” The target audience for this book is a lay audience of science enthusiasts. I had high school teachers in mind as I wrote it. Find it at Amazon.com.

New book: “The Quantum Frontier: The Large Hadron Collider” (name subject to change, will be out summer 2008.) Maybe it’s just better to say that the new book “describes in layman terms the exciting new research program about to start at the CERN laboratory in Switzerland.”

Links from Don Lincoln:


Direct download: nstalol8.mp3

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