New app to demystify the neutrino

Member News published by Cambridge Consultants, under Augmented, Virtual & Mixed Reality

Breakthrough innovation specialists, Cambridge Consultants, and leaders in theoretical particle physics, Durham University, have partnered to create an innovative iOS app that harnesses augmented reality to educate users on what neutrinos are, to visualise where they are produced and to emphasise why they’re so significant to modern science. The partnership aims to spark interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) for students in secondary education and beyond.

Created in partnership with the internationally renowned Institute for Particle Physics Phenomenology at Durham University, the free app, named NeutrinoScope, is the first of its kind, and enables users to see a real-world visualisation of neutrinos and to learn key facts.

Neutrinos are one of the most important and mysterious particles in the universe. They are produced by many things, including the nuclear fusion processes that power the sun and stars, and may hold the key to how matter evolved after the Big Bang, creating everything around us. Despite this, they are incredibly hard to detect and understand.

With three educational features, the NeutrinoScope app addresses this lack of understanding in a highly creative and engaging way to attract interest in STEM subjects and careers amongst young people.

After an initial quiz to pique interest, app-users are invited to the “Interact” mode that uses augmented reality to project animated sources of neutrinos onto a flat surface, explaining key facts and behaviours. Users can expect to see sources ranging from a power station to the humble banana.

Next, the app invites the user to “Explore”, showing neutrinos superimposed onto the world around them. Although usually invisible, neutrinos are emitted by many common objects and with the NeutrinoScope app users can see sources create the particles in front of their eyes. 

Silvia Pascoli, Professor at the Institute for Particle Physics Phenomenology, Durham University and Principal Investigator of the ERC grant NuMass said:

Neutrinos are vitally important and have the potential to solve some of the biggest mysteries in physics, including why everything we see in the Universe is made of matter and not antimatter. Despite this, they are poorly understood. With its rich history of developing breakthrough products, Cambridge Consultants was the clear choice of partner for this important project, creating a unique app that will transform teaching techniques and create a more engaging experience for students to learn about the fascinating world of particle physics.

The app – available now on the Apple App Store – will be showcased at the ‘Ghosts in the Universe’ exhibit at the prestigious Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition, which opens on 2 July 2018. 

Tim Fowler, Head of Wireless and Digital Services, Cambridge Consultants added:

Particle physics, and more specifically neutrinos, is an important field of study that is fundamental to our understanding of the world around us. We’re delighted to partner with Durham University on this project, leveraging our software development and user experience teams to create a first-of-its-kind app that will aid education on the subject. We’re excited to launch the app and hope it goes some way to inspire the next generation of STEM graduates.

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