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First International Masterclasses of ALICE held in University of Jammu

JAMMU: On the occasion of International Day of Women and Girls in Science (IDWGS) on 11th February, a one-day online event "Hands-on Particle Physics Masterclasses @ JU" was organized by the High Energy Physics (HEP) group of the Department of Physics, University of Jammu for high school/college/university girl students.

This is the first time that the International Masterclasses in Particle Physics was organized in India.

International Masterclasses program is organized by the Institute of Nuclear and particle physics (TU) Dresden and QuarkNet Collaboration Notre Dame in the framework of the International Particle Physics Outreach Group (IPPOG) that is financially supported by CERN (Conseil Européen pour la Recherche Nucléaire (French) or European Council for Nuclear Research), TU Dresden, US National Science Foundation and the US Department of Energy. International Masterclasses in particle physics provides participating students an opportunity to discover the world of quarks and leptons (fundamental particles of matter) for themselves by performing measurements on real data from CERN, to meet active particle physics researchers and to link up with like-minded students from other countries.

As the requirement to achieve full and equal access and to recognize participation and accomplishments of female scientists, the UN assembly adopted 11th February as International Day of Women and Girls in Science by passing a resolution in the year 2015. In this spirit, IPPOG organizes special Hands on Particle Physics Masterclasses on this day for girls only in addition to its general International Masterclasses which are organized in the month of Feb-March every year.

Each year more than 13,000 high school students in 60 countries come to one of about 225 nearby universities or research centers for one day in order to unravel the mysteries of particle physics. Because of difficulties arising out of pandemic, this year the events are being organized in online mode the world over.Research in the field of particle physics or high-energy physics pertains to the study of the fundamental subatomic particles, including both matter (and antimatter) and the carrier particles of the fundamental interactions as described by quantum field theory.

The outreach group of a big collaborative ALICE (A Large Ion Collider Experiment) experiment, one of the many experiments at LHC (Large Hadron Collider) at CERN, organises International Masterclasses in various institutes the world over. ALICE experiment aims to study the physics of strongly interacting matter at extreme energy densities where a phase of matter called quark-gluon plasma forms.

The High Energy Physics (HEP) group at University of Jammu as part ALICE experiment at LHC, organized International Masterclasses for the girls students in which forty girl students registered to become part of the learning experience of its kind.

Daylong the event started with an inaugural session where the coordinator of the event Dr. Ramni Gupta, Associate Professor of Physics in the department of Physics welcomed the guests and participants to first-ever International Masterclasses in India.

The inaugural session was attended and addressed by the chairperson of ALICE-India Collaboration Dr. Zubayer Ahammed from VECC, Kolkata, spokesperson of ALICE-India Collaboration Prof. Bedanga Mohanty from NISER, Odhisha, Dr. Despina-Hatzifotiadou outreach coordinator of ALICE experiment, Prof. Anju Bhasin, and Prof. S.S. Sambyal, Head of Physics department. Inaugural was also attended by members of ALICE-India Collaboration, participants, faculty, and scholars of the Department of Physics, University of Jammu.

The resource persons for the first session (Talks & Discussions) of the event were Dr. Despina-Hatzifotiadou, Prof. Anju Bhasin, Professor of Physics, Dr. Ramni Gupta, Associate Professor of Physics, and Meenakshi Sharma, Ph.D. student of HEP Group of University of Jammu.

The special attraction of the event was the virtual tour of the ALICE experiment in the cavern of LHC along with the online question-answer session that was followed by the Hands-on session. In the Hands-on session, two exercises were done where the participants performed the visual analysis of identifying and counting strange particles and filling histograms.

The second exercise was to do the fitting of the histograms of the real data to extract signals for the strange particles (neutral kaon, lambda, and anti lambda particle). The exercise was performed for the event samples of various centralities. Calculation of strangeness enhancement, one of the most important signatures of the QGP formation, was calculated. A hands-on session was conducted by the team of Ph.D. students of the HEP group of the University of Jammu.

Later in the evening, participants connected to the video-conference with the moderators from the CERN and shared and compared the results of the exercises with those obtained by the other two institutes (CTU, Prague, and Thessaloniki, Greece) who also had organised ALICE Masterclasses.

Participants of the event interacted with the moderators and asked various questions related to CERN, ALICE, and the life of women in particle Physics. They also had quiz sessions via Kahoot.


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