Super K Sonic BOOOOum

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Photo by Mark Waugh

For this new version of Super K Sonic BOOOOum for Manchester Science Festival , Nelly Ben Hayoun has invited scientists, artists, performers and actors to present their work alongside her installation of Super K Sonic BOOOOUM 2 Gold. More details at www.superksonic.com

“Super Kamiokande is one of only a few neutrino observatories in the world. It is located a kilometre underneath Kamioka mountain in Japan and consists of a cylindrical steel tank,about 40m in diameter, filled with 50,000 tons of ultra-pure water, and lined with 11,146 hand blown glass photomultiplier tubes.

This huge but delicate device has been built to try and catch a glimpse of the countless neutrinos that travel through the Earth every moment – 50 trillion neutrinos are passing through your body every second. This strange, elementary particle has mass, travels close to the speed of light, yet can pass through matter almost unnoticed.
When Newton developed his theories of gravitation, motion and optics in the 17th century, it was thought that the Science of Physics was nearly complete – that there were only a few more years of work left before humans knew everything there was to know about matter and how it moved through space.
The 1884 novel Flatland is set in a world of only two dimensions – all the characters are two dimensional geometric shapes. The narrator of the story (who happens to be a square) then sees a sphere pass through his two dimensional world –a shape that appears as a point, grows smoothly into a large circle then shrinks back to a point and disappears. To the characters of Flatland this apparition is astoundingly strange. The narrator hypothesises that there must be an unseen ‘third dimension’.
Four hundred years after Newton, far from being complete, it seems our understanding of our world more resembles that of the characters of Flatland. We feel there must be something that explains the strange behaviour of particles like neutrinos, but we can only speculate as to what this is. Experiments like Super Kamiokande are Physicists’ attempt to see into the dimensions that are inaccessible to us, to expand the horizon of understanding.

Nelly Ben Hayoun’s installation, Super K Sonic Booooum! is also a broadening of horizons, but of a different sort. Her and the physicists that have collaborated on the project are helping to bring the rest of us with them, on their ride into other dimensions.”

by Frederick Arnot, Designer

“Telling someone you research Particle Physics usually invokes one of two reactions. The first is the “Oh that’s nice” reaction where the person is quietly hoping that the subject can change into something else entirely, as quickly as possible. The second reaction is my favourite; it is one of genuine interest. Conversation usually follows the second reaction, in which I try my best to disseminate any and as much of Particle Physics, the surrounding science and the technology. There I am in a pub, restaurant or party with no props, presentation, pictures or video. Teaching particle physics to 3rd and 4th year University undergraduates is a challenge with all of these, but there I am. Just me.

Then along came Nelly Ben Hayoun. She gave myself and colleagues much more than our usual descriptive toolset. Nelly created an exhilarating atmosphere with audio, visual and extra-sensory prompts telling much of a story. We scientists coherently weaved together these many amazing strands and, in a seven-minute boat ride, we could take the interested from introduction to real solid science. From the sights and sounds around them to the origin of the Universe. Working with Nelly has been amazing. She uniquely visualises scientific spaces and concepts, bringing them to life before our very eyes. Bigger, better and in GOLD; this Super K Sonic Booooum 2: Gold Edition promises to be the most exciting experience of my academic life. I can’t wait to see the reaction of visitors as they enter and join us on a boat ride into the
Super K Particle Physics detector. It will be an experience visitors and I will never forget.

Dr Ben Still
Particle Physics Research Centre
Queen Mary, University of London

With 50,000 tonnes of super pure water and a crew of expert navigators from Imperial College London and Queen Mary University of London, Super K Sonic Booooum is an installation demonstrating the visual equivalent of amassive sonic boom.

Super K Sonic BOOOOum consists of a twenty five meter long ‘river’ of water running through a tunnel lined with thousands of silver balloons(photomultiplier tubes). A boat is pulled through the tunnel on a submerged track using a pulley system, with sound and lighting effects.
Members of the public can ride in the boat accompanied by the physicists working on the Super Kamiokande in Japan.
This installation is designed to deliver physically thrilling experiences; it aims to bring the audiences on a journey through the physics of the impossible.

The Super-Kamiokande (Super K) is a neutrino observatory in Japan, a massive subterranean scientific instrument used – amongst other things – to discover traces of exploding stars out there in the universe.

One of the most abundant building blocks of nature, the neutrino is also one of the least understood. They interact very rarely with normal matter – you, me, the Earth, or any other bit of the visible universe – and as such, when observed, can give us insight into the basic nature of matter, the universe, and the laws of physics.
Invisible to high-energy detectors like the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, scientists search for neutrinos using highly specialized low-energy detectors like the Super K neutrino observatory. As neutrino particles interact in the Super K detector, they produce electrons, muons and other tiny particles travelling faster than the local speed of light; it is these particles that produce the ‘sonic boom’, and it is this science which inspires Super K Sonic Booooum.


October 2010

Super K Sonic Boooum by Nelly Ben Hayoun -2009

Supported by Science And Technology Facility Council, the Institute of Physics, Manchester Science Festival, Manchester Metropolitan University and Tyvek.

Performer/ Physicists:

*Prof. Dave Wark Professor of Physics Imperial College London

*Dr Ben Still, Research Associate Queen Mary, University of London

*Dr Ryan Terri, Research Associate Queen Mary, University of London

*Dr Matthew Mallek Research Associate Imperial College London

*Dr Tim Nicholls Research Associate STFC Rutherford Appleton Lab

*Dr Phill Litchfield Research Associate University of Warwick

*Dr Jeanne Wilson Lecturer Queen Mary, University of London

*Dr Francesca Di Lodovico Reader in Particle Physics Queen Mary, University of London

*Dr Yoshi Uchida Senior Lecturer Imperial College London

*Dr Iain Bertram Senior Lecturer Lancaster University

*Dr Steve Boyd Senior Lecturer University of Warwick

* Dr Antonin Vacheret, Research Associate, Imperial College London

*Dr Jonathan Perkin, High Energy Physics group, University of Sheffield.

*Miss Melissa George, PhD Student Queen Mary, University of London

*Mr Patrick Masliah PhD Student Imperial College London

*Mr George Christdoulou PhD Student University of Liverpool

*Miss Rebekah Smith PhD Student Oxford University

 

Super K Sonic Boooum by Nelly Ben Hayoun -2009

Produced by Shunt Performer/ Physicists:

*Prof. Dave Wark Professor of Physics Imperial College London

*Dr Ben Still, Research Associate Queen Mary, University of London

*Dr Ryan Terri, Research Associate Queen Mary, University of London

*Dr Matthew Malek Research Associate Imperial College London

*Dr Francesca Di Lodovico Reader in Particle Physics Queen Mary, University of London

*Dr Yoshi Uchida Senior Lecturer Imperial College London

*Miss Melissa George, PhD Student Queen Mary, University of London