University of Minnesota
School of Physics & Astronomy

General News

QuarkNet at CERN

CERN Guys.jpg
Peter Solfest, Jim Peterman, and Jon Schmidt together with their physics teacher and Minnesota QuarkNet leader Jon Anderson

A University of Minnesota QuarkNet team from Centennial Senior High School was one of six chosen from the United States to travel to Geneva, Switzerland (CERN).

QuarkNet is an outreach program of the University of Minnesota, sponsored by the National Science Foundation, designed to help bring the world of particle physics into high schools. They will report on the preparations of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), soon to be the world’s highest energy particle accelerator. Peter Solfest, Jim Peterman, and Jon Schmidt together with their physics teacher and Minnesota QuarkNet leader Jon Anderson. Their blog will be available at

The team will document the LHC activity using video, photographs, and blogs during their April 4 – 6th visit. At CERN they will meet with the University of Minnesota physicists helping to build the Compact Muon Solenoid (CMS) detector. They will also interview physicists from the 94 universities and national laboratories in the United States and from 40 countries around the world working on the accelerator and its massive detectors. The Minnesota team will fly into Geneva on April 3rd and post their first blog the next day. The six teams from five states across the U.S. were the winners of a competition sponsored and funded by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science and the National Science Foundation. Each team consists of a teacher and three students who will combine their expertise in physics, communications and video production to communicate the science and excitement of preparing for the grand experiment.

The LHC is a proton accelerator seven times more powerful than the Fermilab Tevatron located in Batavia, Illinois, the current high energy champion. It is essentially a 27 kilometer circle of superconducting magnets that is 100 meters underground. The circle is so large it goes under the border between Switzerland and France. Threading through the centers of the magnet circle are two vacuum pipes each containing a powerful beam of 7 TeV protons. These protons collide head-on 40 million times a second at the center of two huge detectors, CMS and ATLAS Physicists will use the data collected from the detectors to investigate the basic forces of the universe. They have designed the accelerator and its detectors to find the origin of mass, explore the existence of extra dimensions of space, look for microscopic black holes, and determine the composition of dark matter.

Centennial High School is located in Blaine, Minnesota. It offers a full range of physics courses including “College-in-the-Schools” physics, from which the team was drawn. Jon Anderson is an award winning teacher, QuarkNet Lead Teacher, a member of the University of Minnesota Physics Force demonstration team, a teacher-in-residence at the University of Minnesota School of Physics and Astronomy in the PhysTEC program, and a Physics Teacher Resource Agent of the American Association of Physics Teachers. Peter Solfest is an accomplished trombone player and is planning to major in physics when he attends college next year. Jim Peterman is a three sport athlete and plans attend college next year to be an elementary teacher. Jon Schmidt plays lacrosse and plans to major in a science or math related field when he attends college next year.

For more information contact:
Jon Anderson (Centennial High School physics teacher and University of Minnesota teacher in residence) -
Dr. Roger Rusack (University of Minnesota physics professor and CMS leader)
Dr. Jeremiah Mans ( University of Minnesota physics professor and CMS leader)
Dr. Dan Cronin-Hennessy (University of Minnesota physics professor and QuarkNet leader)

More information at