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Sunday, 15 January 2012

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Singapore students hunt for God particle

It has been called the building block of the universe, but has eluded the grasp of scientists around the world.

Now, students in Singapore are being given a chance to help European scientists find the Higgs Boson particle - or so-called God particle - an ultra-small particle believed to give all matter its mass.

They began doing so last week under a program run by the Nanyang Technological University in conjunction with the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (Cern), which is at the forefront of the hunt for the particle.

The three-week program, to be held every two years, will focus on the physics of particles and include lectures and workshops by experts in the field.

This batch of participants will also help Cern scientists analyse data from its laboratories to prove that the Higgs Boson particle exists.

The Large Hadron Collider at Cern, a machine that collects information on particles, generates about 15 million gigabytes of data each year.

About 120 students, academics and researchers from Singapore and the region were picked for this year’s program.

Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean, the guest of honour at the opening ceremony on Monday, said the program, called a “winter school”, will give Singapore students “a high-level platform to keep up to date with the frontiers of particle physics and technology”.

Such short-term schools, traditionally held in the US and Europe during the winter and summer breaks, are meant to help scientists keep pace with developments in their fields and learn about trends in related sciences.

Professor Ignatios Antoniadis, the theory division’s head of physics at Cern, said the institute could in the future also collaborate with other Singapore schools and agencies, such as the National University of Singapore and the Agency for Science, Technology and Research.

DPM Teo said the Ministry of Education will send teachers to Cern to enhance their science-teaching methods.The program’s patron is Thailand’s Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn, who visited Cern in 2009 and initiated a collaboration between her country and the organisation.

Thailand holds its second workshop with Cern in April.

- The Straits Times

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