The Development of Particle Physics


Dr. Vitaly Kudryavtsev


Department of Physics and Astronomy

University of Sheffield


E45, tel.: 2224531; E-mail:


     The course describes the development of several crucial concepts in particle physics, emphasising the role and significance of experiments. Students are encouraged to work from the original literature (the recommended text includes reprints of key papers). The course will focus not only on the particle physics issues involved, but also on research methodology - the design of experiments, the critical interpretation of data, the role of theory, etc. Topics covered include the discoveries of the neutron, the positron and the neutrino, experimental evidence for quarks and gluons, the neutral kaon system and CP violation, etc.





1. R. N. Cahn and G. Goldhaber. The experimental foundations of particle physics, Cambridge University Press, 2nd edition.

2. D. H. Perkins. Introduction to high energy physics, Cambridge University Press.

3. G. D. Coughlan and J. E. Dodd. The ideas of particle physics, Cambridge University Press.

4. B. R. Martin and G. Shaw. Particle physics, John Wiley & Sons.

5.  Other textbooks on Particle Physics.


Course structure


The course follows Cahn and Goldhaber and will consist of a set of lectures by myself and 15-20-minute presentations by students. Every student will be assigned a topic from the list below. Each student should give two presentations in the first and the second half of the course. The presentation should consist of an introduction to the knowledge of the time, discuss experiments and their results and describe the impact of the results. The schedule will be posted on the web after the students are assigned topics for presentations. The students have to choose a topic by Thursday, 1st of October (talk to me).


First lectures


25,27/09/18           Lecture 1. Introduction. Discovery of the neutron and the positron.

02/10/18                Lecture 2. Discovery of the muon and the pion.

04/10/18                Lecture 3. Discovery of strangeness.

09/10/18                Lecture 4. Resonances.


List of topics covered in the course (those, which can be chosen by students for their presentations are shown in red):


1.         Introduction. Discovery of the neutron and the positron.

2.         Discovery of the muon and the pion.

3.         Discovery of strangeness.

4.         Resonances.

5.         Antibaryons: antiprotons.

6.         Antibaryons: antineutrons.

7.         Weak interactions: experimental evidence for neutrino.

8.         Weak interactions: evidence for two neutrinos.

9.         Weak interactions: parity violation.

10.     Kaon system: discovery of the K0L.

11.     Kaon system: CP violation.

12.     Nucleon structure: ep elastic scattering.

13.     Nucleon structure: ep inelastic scattering.

14.     Nucleon structure: neutrino-proton inelastic scattering.

15.     New particles: J/Psi.

16.     New particles: charm.

17.     New particles: tau-leptons.

18.     Quarks, gluons and jets: quark jets.

19.     Quarks, gluons and jets: gluon jets.

20.     Quarks, gluons and jets: UA2-experiment.

21.     The fifth quark: discovery of upsilon and B-mesons.

22.     Neutral currents and weak vector bosons: neutral currents.

23.     Neutral currents and weak vector bosons: charged weak vector bosons.

24.     Neutral currents and weak vector bosons: Z-bosons.

25.     Discovery of the top-quark.

26.     Discovery of tau-neutrino.

27.     LEP experiments.

28.     Neutrino mass and oscillations.


More topics for presentations can be offered if needed.


Topics for presentations and preliminary time schedule can be found here.




The assessment will consist of three elements:

1. 30% of the mark for the presentation.

2. There will be 4 homeworks contributing 10% each to the final mark.

3. There will also be an essay (about 4000 words) on a current topic in particle physics amounting to 30% of the final mark.


Topics for essays


Choose one of the following:


1.      Development of the theory of electroweak interactions.

This essay should present a review of experimental evidence that has led to the development of the current electroweak theory. Parity violation, discovery of neutrino, demonstration of two distinct neutrinos and the discovery of the neutral currents should be included. The essay should also contain the basic principles, the development and the current status of the electroweak theory.


2.      Development of the theory of strong interactions.

This should present a review of quarks and gluons, parton model and structure functions. The essay should also include the discovery of jets, evidences for quark colors, hypothesis of scaling and scaling violation.


3.   Physics with the ATLAS detector at LHC.

The essay should include the description of the LHC and the ATLAS detector, main goals of the ATLAS experiment and results so far. Search for Higgs bosons and Supersymmetry, and the results should be included.


The guidelines above are not explicit and your essay should contain other material relevant to the topic.


References: Perkins, Cahn and Golhaber, Coughlan and Dodd, other particle physics textbooks, scientific journals.

References for ATLAS: Scientific publications, presentations given at CERN, CERN web-site etc. (cite all publications properly!)


You have to submit your essay to Turnitin prior to handing it in to the office.


Please, hand in TWO hard copies to the office and send an electronic version to me by e-mail if possible. The deadline for essay submission is Wednesday, 12 December 2018, 4:00 p.m.



Some notes on giving presentation for PHY466:


As a part of PHY466 you will give a presentation on some aspects on the Development of Particle Physics that will be assigned to you. Your presentation should last about 15-20 min followed by a 5 minute question/discussion period.


Step 1:       Generate a draft of your talk (on a plain paper or computer).

Step 2:       Talk to me, we will go through your talk and check that you have made the essential points. This should be done well in advance.

Step 3:       Revise your talk.


You can prepare your slides in the Microsoft Power Point and show them from a laptop computer using data projector. If you prepare your talk on Windows, your fonts, equations or pictures may not be seen properly on my Mac. So, please, see me well in advance to check compatibility. You can also use University computers, your own laptop or convert your presentation into pdf file.


Some hints for good presentation:


1.    Use colour (if possible), bold, italic, to make your presentation visually interesting;

2.    Do not crowd a slide and make sure your font is visible (14 pt is a small print on a slide);

3.    Make sure your figures are clear;

4.    For 15-20 minutes you will need around 12-18 slides. It depends on how fast you go and how dense your slides are. It is a good idea to go through your talk and time yourself;

5.    Have a structure of your talk: tell a story beginning, middle and end.

6.    Do not exceed 20 minutesŐ limit.

7.    Start your presentation with a title and your name; include outline.

8.    End your presentation with a summary and the list of references (properly formatted).


You should provide me with an electronic copy of your presentation and this will be used in marking your presentation. I would also like to put your presentations on the web-page to allow all students to use them in preparation for answering homework questions and writing an essay.


You should view this as opportunity to learn how to speak to people in a small informal group.




 View or download lecture slides:






Presentations given by students: