About this Course
This course introduces you to subatomic physics, i.e. the physics of nuclei and particles. More specifically, the following questions are addressed: - What are the concepts of particle physics and how are they implemented? - What are the properties of atomic nuclei and how can one use them? - How does one accelerate and detect particles and measure their properties? - What does one learn from particle reactions at high energies and particle decays? - How do electromagnetic interactions work and how can one use them? - How do strong interactions work and why are they difficult to understand? - How do weak interactions work and why are they so special? - What is the mass of objects at the subatomic level and how does the Higgs boson intervene? - How does one search for new phenomena beyond the known ones? - What can one learn from particle physics concerning astrophysics and the Universe as a whole? The course is structured in eight modules. Following the first one which introduces our subject, the modules 2 (nuclear physics) and 3 (accelerators and detectors) are rather self contained and can be studied separately. The modules 4 to 6 go into more depth about matter and forces as described by the standard model of particle physics. Module 7 deals with our ways to search for new phenomena. And the last module introduces you to two mysterious components of the Universe, namely Dark Matter and Dark Energy.
Globe

100% online course

Start instantly and learn at your own schedule.
Clock

Approx. 30 hours to complete

Suggested: We estimate the workload for this course to be about 11 weeks of study with 3 to 4 hours/week, depending on your usage of the optional material.
Comment Dots

English

Subtitles: English
Globe

100% online course

Start instantly and learn at your own schedule.
Clock

Approx. 30 hours to complete

Suggested: We estimate the workload for this course to be about 11 weeks of study with 3 to 4 hours/week, depending on your usage of the optional material.
Comment Dots

English

Subtitles: English

Syllabus - What you will learn from this course

1

Section
Clock
2 hours to complete

Matter and forces, measuring and counting

During this first module, we will give an overview of the objects studied in particle physics, namely matter, forces and space-time. We will discuss how one characterizes the strength of an interaction between particles using the concept of cross section, which is central to our subject. At the end of this module, we will visit the laboratory of the nuclear physics course at University of Geneva to see an example of how one measures the strength of a reaction in practice....
Reading
13 videos (Total 88 min), 6 quizzes
Video13 videos
1.1 Matter11m
1.2 Forces10m
1.2a Natural units (optional)2m
1.2b Special relativity and four-vectors (optional)7m
1.2c Virtual particles (optional)2m
1.3 Probability and cross section13m
1.3a Attenuation of a photon beam (optional)1m
1.4 Rutherford experiment7m
1.4a Rutherford cross section (optional)3m
1.4b Counting rate Rutherford (optional)2m
1.5 Quantum scattering10m
1.6 Rutherford experiment in practice (optional)13m
Quiz6 practice exercises
1.1 Matter10m
1.2 Forces6m
1.3 Probability and cross section8m
1.4 Rutherford experiment8m
1.5 Quantum scattering6m
Graded quiz for Module 110m

2

Section
Clock
4 hours to complete

Nuclear physics

During this second module, we deal with nuclear physics and its applications. This is a rather self-contained module. If your main interest is nuclear physics, you will be well served. You will notice that this is a rather substantial module, we recommend that you take two weeks to digest it. At the end of this module, we will visit the Tokamak of the Swiss Institute of Technology in Lausanne and the Beznau nuclear power plant, the oldest one still in operation. This will alllow you to better understand the applications of nuclear physics for our energy supply....
Reading
15 videos (Total 142 min), 1 reading, 10 quizzes
Video15 videos
2.2 Nuclear size and spin9m
2.3 Models of nuclear structure10m
2.3a QCD and nuclear force (optional)2m
2.4 Radioactivity: alpha decay9m
2.4a Energy of alpha particles (optional)1m
2.5 Beta and gamma decay8m
2.5a Exponential decay law (optional)1m
2.6 Radioactivity in practice (optional)8m
2.7 Radiocarbon dating and NMR imaging8m
2.8 Nuclear fission11m
2.9 Nuclear power6m
2.10 Nuclear fusion, the Sun and ITER8m
2.11 The tokamak of EPFL (optional)24m
2.12 The Beznau nuclear power plant (optional)20m
Reading1 readings
2.4 Radioactivity: alpha decay10m
Quiz10 practice exercises
2.1 Nuclear mass and binding energy8m
2.2 Nuclear size and spin8m
2.3 Models of nuclear structure6m
2.4 Radioactivity: alpha decay6m
2.5 Beta and gamma decay6m
2.7 Radiocarbon dating and NMR imaging6m
2.8 Nuclear fission6m
2.9 Nuclear power6m
2.10 Nuclear fusion, the Sun and ITER8m
Graded quiz for Module 210m

3

Section
Clock
3 hours to complete

Accelerators and detectors

In this module, we treat the basic facts about particle acceleration and detection. This is a rather self-contained module. If your main interest is particle acceleration and detection, you will be well served. You will notice that this is rather substantial module, we recommend that you take two weeks to digest it. We introduce electromagnetic acceleration and focalisation of particle beams and show how they are used in the accelerator complex of CERN. We describe how charged particles and photons interact with matter and how these interactions are used to detect particles and measure their properties. And we show how modern particle detectors use the synergies between different detection methods to get exhaustive information about the final state of particle collisions....
Reading
14 videos (Total 99 min), 3 readings, 10 quizzes
Video14 videos
3.1a Cyclotron frequency (optional)2m
3.2 Acceleration and focalisation6m
3.2a The CERN accelerator complex (optional)3m
3.3 Components of the LHC (optional)14m
3.4 Heavy particles in matter6m
3.5 Light particles in matter4m
3.6 Photons in matter8m
3.7 Ionisation detectors7m
3.8 Semiconductor detectors7m
3.9 Scintillation and Cherenkov detectors12m
3.10 Spectrometers and calorimeters8m
3.10a Particle detection with ATLAS (optional)3m
3.11 Particle detectors at DPNC (optional)6m
Reading3 readings
3.9 Scintillation and Cherenkov detectors10m
3.10 Spectrometers and calorimeters10m
3.11 Particle detectors at DPNC (optional)10m
Quiz10 practice exercises
3.1 Principles of particle acceleration6m
3.2 Acceleration and focalisation8m
3.4 Heavy particles in matter6m
3.5 Light particles in matter6m
3.6 Photons in matter6m
3.7 Ionisation detectors4m
3.8 Semiconductor detectors4m
3.9 Scintillation and Cherenkov detectors8m
3.10 Spectrometers and calorimeters4m
Graded quiz for Module 310m

4

Section
Clock
2 hours to complete

Electromagnetic interactions

We now start a series of three modules discussing the three fundamental forces described by the Standard Model of particle physics. In this forth module, we go into more details about the properties of electromagnetic interactions. We discuss spin and how it intervenes in measurements. And we give a few examples of basic electromagnetic processes to point out common features. You will notice that the intellectual challenge and also the level of mathematical description rises somewhat as we go along. This is why we first remind you how to describe the intensity of a reaction using the cross section and the decay rate and how to construct a Feynman diagram. ...
Reading
7 videos (Total 54 min), 6 quizzes
Video7 videos
4.1a How to construct a Feynman diagram (optional)4m
4.2 Electromagnetic scattering13m
4.3 Spin and magnetic moment6m
4.3a Motion in a Penning Trap2m
4.4 Compton scattering and pair annihilation11m
4.5 Electron-positron annihilation8m
Quiz6 practice exercises
4.1 Reminder: Describing particle interactions6m
4.2 Electromagnetic scattering8m
4.3 Spin and magnetic moment6m
4.4 Compton scattering and pair annihilation6m
4.5 Electron-positron annihilation6m
Graded quiz for Module 46m

5

Section
Clock
1 hour to complete

Hadrons and strong interaction

In this module we discuss the structure of hadrons and the properties of strong interactions. We start out by explaining how one uses the scattering of electrons off nucleons to learn about the internal structure of these baryons. Step by step we lead you from elastic scattering, through the excitation of resonances, all the way to deep inelastic processes. You thus learn about the concept of form factors and structure functions and what they tell us about hadron structure. We then discuss the physics behind this and learn about color and the strange features of strong interactions, like asymptotic freedom and confinement. ...
Reading
5 videos (Total 46 min), 6 quizzes
Video5 videos
5.2 Inelastic scattering and quarks9m
5.3 Quark-antiquark resonances and mesons6m
5.4 Color and strong interactions14m
5.5 Hadronisation and jets6m
Quiz6 practice exercises
5.1 Elastic electron-nucleon scattering6m
5.2 Inelastic scattering and quarks6m
5.3 Quark-antiquark resonances and mesons4m
5.4 Color and strong interactions8m
5.5 Hadronisation and jets6m
Graded quiz for Module 510m

6

Section
Clock
3 hours to complete

Electro-weak interactions

In this 6th module, we discuss weak interactions and the Higgs mechanism. You will notice that this module is again larger that average. This is due to the rich phenomenology of electro-weak interactions. We recommend that you take 2 weeks to digest the contents. Before entering into our subject, in this first video we go into more depth on the subject of antiparticles. We will then discuss the discrete transformations of charge, space and time reversal. Weak interactions are introduced, explaining the weak charge (called weak isospin) and examples of decays and interactions. Properties of the W and Z bosons are detailed. The extremely tiny cross sections of neutrino interactions with matter are discussed. In the last part of the module, we explain how the Higgs mechanism keeps particles from moving at the speed of light, and the properties of the associated Higgs boson. ...
Reading
13 videos (Total 112 min), 13 quizzes
Video13 videos
6.2 The discrete transformations C, P and T11m
6.3 Weak charges and interactions8m
6.4 Muon and tau lepton decay8m
6.5 The W boson4m
6.6 The Z boson9m
6.7 Weak decays of quarks6m
6.8 Particle-antiparticle oscillations and CP violation9m
6.9 Neutrino scattering6m
6.10 Neutrino oscillations9m
6.11 The Higgs mechanism12m
6.12 The Higgs boson4m
6.13 The discovery of the Higgs boson (optional)15m
Quiz13 practice exercises
6.1 Particles and antiparticles4m
6.2 The discrete transformations C, P and T6m
6.3 Weak charges and interactions4m
6.4 Muon and tau lepton decay6m
6.5 The W boson4m
6.6 The Z boson6m
6.7 Weak decays of quarks4m
6.8 Particle-antiparticle oscillations and CP violation6m
6.9 Neutrino scattering4m
6.10 Neutrino oscillations4m
6.11 The Higgs mechanism4m
6.12 The Higgs boson4m
Graded quiz for Module 610m

7

Section
Clock
1 hour to complete

Discovering new phenomena

In this 7th module Anna discusses searches for new phenomena, beyond the known ones described by the standard model and covered in previous modules. We will remind you why we believe that the standard model is incomplete and new physics must be added. We will explain how hadron collider data are rendered usable for searches. And we will discuss examples, split into the two categories, based on how new phenomena might manifest themselves. ...
Reading
5 videos (Total 45 min), 5 quizzes
Video5 videos
7.2 Sifting chaff from the wheat10m
7.3 Hunting peaks7m
7.4 Hunting tails8m
7.5 Hunting new physics with LHCb (optional)11m
Quiz5 practice exercises
7.1 The world beyond the Standard Model4m
7.2 Sifting chaff from the wheat4m
7.3 Hunting peaks4m
7.4 Hunting tails4m
Graded quiz for Module 74m

8

Section
Clock
1 hour to complete

Dark matter and dark energy

...
Reading
5 videos (Total 47 min), 4 quizzes
Video5 videos
8.2 Dark matter9m
8.3 Dark energy10m
8.3a Motivating the Friedmann equation (optional)2m
8.4 What hides behind dark matter and dark energy? (optional)14m
Quiz4 practice exercises
8.1 The Big Bang and its consequences4m
8.2 Dark matter4m
8.3 Dark energy4m
Graded quiz for Module 88m
4.4

Top Reviews

By MHAug 5th 2017

Challenging at first for someone with a non-traditional academic background, but thoroughly enjoyable and worth completing, if nothing but for the personal satisfaction of getting through it!

By EPApr 23rd 2017

Very interesting course. Quite difficult to pass week 6 due to a question on w boson quark transformation. Couldnt find answers in sylabus. Maybe just me. Overall excellant course.

Instructors

Avatar

Martin Pohl

Professeur ordinaire
Avatar

Mercedes Paniccia

Collaboratrice scientifique
Avatar

Anna Sfyrla

Assistant Professor

About University of Geneva

Founded in 1559, the University of Geneva (UNIGE) is one of Europe's leading universities. Devoted to research, education and dialogue, the UNIGE shares the international calling of its host city, Geneva, a centre of international and multicultural activities with a venerable cosmopolitan tradition....

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