Calgary students compete for physics prize
These Bishop Carrol students hope to head to Switzerland in the fall to test their theory.
Published Friday, February 24, 2017 9:15AM MST
A group of students from Bishop Carroll High School hopes to earn a trip to Switzerland to do scientific research.
They are taking part in a physics competition that if they win, will give them the chance to run experiments on the CERN particle accelerator. CERN is the European organization for nuclear research where physicists and engineers examine the fundamental structure of the universe.
It’s the chance of a lifetime for the students, who are trying to test a mathematical formula created by student Koi McArthur.
“Using the math I figured out that isospin and charge have to be related to imaginary mass, and imaginary mass when plugged into Einstein's equation for relativistic energy gives particles that travel faster than light,” he said.
Those hypothetical particles are known as tachyons, and could one day lead to incredibly fast space travel or even time travel.
“Tachyons are interesting because they don't flow through space and time the same way we do,” he said. “They have a real velocity but the math shows that the space and time they travel through would be imaginary, imaginary in the sense that it's multiplied by the square route of minus one.”
The students have been posting their findings about the equation on the CERN website, trying to generate interest in the project, and it seems to be working.
“Someone contacted the web site today and said that they've been working on a similar theory for ten years, which is super interesting, so we could get in contact with them and prove some more things or advance the theory,” said Tarek el Maggar, one of the students.
Laurie O'Connor teaches these kids and is impressed at the passion they have for physics.
“On a resume, this is incredible, this experience for these kids, what they've already experienced at the Canadian Light Source, and now to go to CERN, this to me is just… wow!” she said.
The team must have its submission in by the end of March and should know in June if they will be traveling to Switzerland in September.
To learn more about the project they are working on, log on to the Team Investigate Tachyons website.