9 May 2019

Members of the Physics Factor Research Club visited the Physics Department at Imperial College for the latest review of one of their research projects with Professor Steven Rose of Imperial College and Dr Peter Hatfield of Oxford University. The Matter from Light project has been an exciting collaboration in which the Physics Factor team was given access to data from a novel experiment to find evidence for the Brett-Wheeler effect, first predicted theoretically in 1934 but never yet observed.

A group of experimental physicists at Imperial has carried out an experiment to find direct evidence for the theory using the Diamond Light Source just down the road at Harwell. The Timepix particle detectors used in the experiment are very familiar to the Physics Factor team who have had two such detectors on loan at Abingdon School from the Institute for Research in Schools and Oxford University’s Physics Department. Using their experience and knowledge of these detectors, the team has come up with some interesting ideas for analysing the Imperial group’s data.

They have now found a promising method for showing results which could be evidence of the Breit-Wheeler effect, where gamma ray photons collide and produce electron-positron pairs, literally matter from light. After their presentations, members of the team engaged in discussions with Professor Rose and Dr Hatfield, first in the tea room and then Professor Rose’s office, culminating in a proposal to submit a short communication about their results to a scientific journal, such as the Journal of Radiation Research.

If this paper is accepted this will be an amazing achievement for a group of school age enthusiasts working at the cutting edge of Physics.

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