Oxford Physics

A.J. Barr





Engagement, media, policy


Prof Alan J. Barr

Media and public engagement

High energy particle physics attempts to answer some of the universe's "big questions". Lots of folks want to find out more about CERN, Dark Matter, Higgs Bosons, Black Holes, and other LHC physics. Below you can find links to some outreach activities I've been involved in.

`The Language of Symmetry' I wrote one chapter of this book, which discusses of the structure and reach of symmetry by an interdisciplinary group from the arts, humanities and sciences at the University of Oxford. My chapter is entitled "Darkness, light and how symmetry might relate them". The book is also available from amazon.

May 2023

Bringing the Large Hadron Collider data to Northern IrelandWith partners from the Institute for Research in Schools we're visiting Limavady Grammar School to find out about their analysis of data from CERN.

Report from the Institute for Research in Schools. Good Morning Ulster (interview at about 07:55), BBC Radio Foyle (interview at about 13.20). Youtube Video
Join the project.

March 2023

Sixth-formers learn how to unlock a future in particle physicsUK school students attend a Masterclass at the Rutherford laboratory doing real particle physics research at school. Join the project.

March 2023

`Hard but really rewarding'UK school students tell us about learning coding doing real particle physics research at school. Want to get your hands on some CERN data? Have your school join the project.

September 2022

`Big Data' analysis with ATLAS at school A video introduction to our new project rolling out to schools around the UK. The project enables students at schools around the country to develop their own code from scratch to analyse the Big Data from the Large Hadron Collider.

September 2022

Higgs Hunters school students travel to CERN A group of nine school students who participated in the Higgs Hunters school event travelled to CERN to present their results to members of the ATLAS collaboration. This is what they saw.

September 2019

Congratulations to all our Higgs Hunters The HiggsHunters project has been recognised with a Vice Chancellor's award for Public Engagement with Research. Elisabeth Baeten, one of our most dedicated Citizen scientists collected the award on behalf of the Higgs Hunter community, and our partners IRIS and Zooniverse, and our funder STFC.

July 2019

"I found a BUNDLE!" For our HiggsHunters.org project more than 37,000 members of the public from more than 170 countries looked for interesting features in data from CERN. Our analysis shows some surprises, including that citizen scientists developed their own technical language when searching for new physics in ATLAS event displays.

July 2018

"That's not what physics education is supposed to be about!" School students present the result of their own particle physics research at the #HiggsHunters Schools Conference at Oxford, and stay in Merton College. Interesting reflections from attendees Henry and Shameer.

25-26 June 2018

Don't be afraid of the dark! What to know about our attempts to uncover the secrets of the missing 95% of the universe? Come to Dark Matter Day at Oxford physics.

31 Oct 2017

"The Edge of Science" Talk at the Orkney International Science Festival. Morning interview on BBC Radio Orkney (about 12 minutes in) also featuring Prof Peter Higgs.

12 Sept 2017

"What does it all mean?" A panel discussion on physics, philosophy and scientific modelling as part of Edinburgh Science Festival with Michela Massimsi of the University of Edinburgh at the National Museum of Scotland.

13 April 2017

Are term-time family holidays bad for pupils? In a BBC article a spokesperson for the UK Department of Education was quoted as saying that "The evidence shows that every extra day of school missed can affect a pupil's chances of achieving good GCSEs....".
Analysis reveals that lower performance is strongly correlated with other factors like pupils' illness and persistent truancy, but not with approved family holidays. Presented in this TES article (pdf scan).
Also in the Mirror on ITV This Morning.

27 October to 1 November 2016

"That looks weird..." Our 32,000 HiggsHunter citizen scientists from 179 countries were remarkably adept at finding interesting features in the collisions observed by the ATLAS experiment. The first paper from this project has just hit the physics preprint arXiv:
Also highlighted as a news story from ATLAS

10 October 2016

Taking CERN to school Prof Peter Higgs and local school pupils join us to launch our HiggsHunters.org school analysis project, in collaboration with with the Institute for Research in Schools
video get involved

16 September 2016

Hunting for baby Higgs bosons Now everyone can look for new particles...
With the help of thousands of citizen scientists our HiggsHunters project is searching for new particles in an unusual way...

Article in The Times online (paywall) or (scanned)
News story from CERN
Article on the Oxford Science Blog

July 2016

Taking stock of SUSY What have we learned about Supersymmetry?
Our recent paper summarises the ATLAS searches for the much-sought theory of Supersymmetry. The paper is now highlighted in the CERN courier.
The article is entitled `Supersymmetry searches: the most comprehensive ATLAS summary to date'.

November 2015

A Aardvark et. al? On papers with many authors
A contribution to Tom Whipple's article in The Times on the growth of large-author collaborations in science.

15 August 2015

Dark Matter on the radio Presenting LHC on BBC Oxford
BBC Oxford radio is doing a series of pieces on science on the Will Gompertz slot. Listen in at about an hour into the show if you fancy some bank holiday chat on dark matter.

24 May 2015

A Pint of Science Why science isn't just for the scientists
Britain's answer to the Cafe Scientifique? Exploring natural philosophy with a keg...

20 May 2015

Physics for the people Citizen scientists dive into particle physics and astrophysics research.
Our Higgs Hunters citizen science project catches the attention of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

19 February 2015

New searches for SUSY BBC Wiltshire
A chat with Alex Lester about the missing 95% of the universe, for the benefit of the good people of the county of Wiltshire.

18 February 2015

Higgs Hunters Now anyone can search for new particles
Funded by STFC, and in collaboration with the Zooniverse team, we've designed a citizen science project Higgs Hunters that allows anyone to search for new exotic particles at the LHC.
Also covered in: Wired magazine, Symmetry magazine .

25 November 2014

Particle Fever Oxford picture house
Join us for a special showing of the acclaimed Higgs-boson-discovery film, followed by a Q&A with some of the Oxford ATLAS team, moderated by astronomer Chris Lintott.

23 November 2014

Beyond the Boson Oxford physics newsletter
As the LHC prepares to restart at even higher energy, we look at the next steps in understanding the fundamental constituents of nature.

15 Oct 2014

The LHC and the Higgs boson Video
Discussion of Oxford's role in the ATLAS experiment, the Higgs boson discovery, and beyond...

25 Jan 2014

News from Sweden Nobel prize to Profs Englert and Higgs
Congratulations to Profs Englert and Higgs on being awarded the 2013 Nobel prize for physics

8 October 2013

COLLIDER app The Higgs boson in your hand

Our new app Collider allows you to play games, view collisions from CERN, and even hunt for the Higgs boson. It features full 3D graphics, event streaming from CERN, tutorials and new games. download for Android phones and tablets, iPhone and iPad.

30 July 2013

The Telegraph CERN begins LHC upgrade to boost dark matter search

CERN engineers have begun a refurbishment of the Large Hadron Collider...
2 April 2013

The Heffalon The search for the elusive `Heffalon' particle

Our timely collider search for this very heavy exotic particle attracted much attention. A particle of this type was searched for by W.T. Pooh and Piglet without success. This April fool's paper also has the dubious honour of being the first ATLAS + CMS combined search, albeit a somewhat informal combination...

The rejection letter from Physical Review Letters and the invitation to appear at the Science Museum, London show that the authors clearly understood the joke.
1 April 2013

A Higgs-like boson is discovered! Time to celebrate (Oxford physics)

What has the Higgs boson ever done for me (Channel 4 news)

A new particle found: (Oxford science blog)

Higgs boson in your hands (LHSee)

Scientists React With Joy (Huffington Post)

The implications of the discovery in detail (iTunesU)

4 July 2012

Oxford Sparks Oxford Sparks

Videos, blogs and more explaining science at Oxford. Even if you don't know your "Hog's Bison" from your "Higgs Boson" you'll find this fun.
OxfordSparks web site plus youtube cartoon.
5 April 2012

The Telegraph Searching for Higgs bosons and more

The LHC restarts at centre-of-mass energy of 8 TeV. It's make or break time for the Higgs boson. But is there something else...
3 April 2012

Higgs update Hints of a Higgs from ATLAS and CMS?

In a pre Christmas update, both ATLAS and CMS report tantalizing hints of a Higgs signal around 125 GeV, but nothing conclusive as yet.

Contributions to reportage: The Sun The Telegraph International Business Times International Business Times PC magazine Oxford Science Blog Oxford physics news
12 December 2011

LHSee LHSee - Big Bang Physics in your Pocket

Want to find the Higgs Boson using your phone? Our new App lets you grab data from CERN and see LHC collisions on your Android smart-phone.
6 October 2011

Nature news Beautiful theory collides with smashing particle data

Analysis by Oxford ATLAS graduate students reported in `Nature'.
3 March 2011

Oxford science blog The search for sparticles

If the universe contains supersymmetric particles then they must be heavy...
2 March 2011

Guardian The Knowledge

Can footballers "hang" in the air while taking headers?
25 Aug 2010

Radio Oxford Science in Oxfordshire

What can particle physics tell us about how the Universe began?
4 Jan 2010

City Talk, Seven FM, BBC Radio Kent, BBC 6 Music The science behind "Angels and Demons"

What is the truth behind the "anti-matter" bomb suggested in Dan Brown's book and film?
14 Sept 2009

Guardian The Knowledge

Can a football speed up in mid-air, as claimed by goalie Jens Lehmann?
13 May 2009

Institute of Physics Science in Society

Awarded the IoP HEPP Group Science in Society Prize for ``outstanding contributions to outreach in particle physics''
Summer 2009.

Oxford Podcast The University of Oxford has become part of Apple's iTunes U initiative, whereby universities around the world are making free podcasts available to be downloaded from Apple's portal. My particle physics podcast can be downloaded from the Oxford iTunes site.
7 Oct 2008
Sky news LHC first beam

The mood of scientists monitoring the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) swung from nervous anticipation to relief as the world's most expensive experiment got under way successfully.
10 Sept 2008

The Times Day in the life

The Large Hadron Collider - an atom-smasher - will beam sub-atomic particles around a huge tunnel beneath the Swiss-French border. Eventually, scientists hope to smash the particles into each other, recreating conditions thought to have occurred immediately after the Big Bang...
9 Sept 2008

Oxford Science BlogScience Blog

Recent updates on Science in Oxford
From 5 Aug 2008

YouTubeLHC startup video diary

Video Diary from CERN documenting the start-up of the LHC on a day-to-day basis.

From 4 Aug 2008

Science Oxford The biggest experiment in the world

Discussion evening together with Brian Cox and John March-Russell anticipating the turn on of the Large Hadron Collider.
From 21 Aug 2008

National Geographic ChannelMegastructures - Atom Smasher

The Large Hadron Collider is a titan of science. Built on an unsurpassed scale, scientists aim to capture the smallest particles in the universe.
31 July 2008

Oxford Mail & Oxford TimesStudents get science masterclass

Local school students come to Oxford Uni for a masterclass in physics.
24th March 2008

Channel 4 newsScientists create gigantic machine to recreate the Big Bang

Introduction to the LHC and its science from Channel 4 news.
19 December 2006

BBC onlineEnergising the quest for 'big theory'

LHC construction phase and reason/motivation for building.
3 January 2006

Inside the ATLAS detector