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High school exam features CERN, the LHC and the Higgs boson

Today all over France, students answered questions about CERN in their science exams as part of the Baccalauréat Général


Good luck to all high-school students who in their leaving exams this morning answered questions about physics at CERN.

The Higgs boson, the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) and the physics of colliding protons made an appearance in the Physique-Chimie (Physics and Chemistry) exam as part of the Baccalauréat Général - France's high school leaving exam.

In the first section of a 3.5 hour paper, students were presented with extracts from texts describing the Higgs boson and the LHC as well as the velocities and physical properties of colliding protons. Extracts came from: the French-language science magazine Science et Avenir (Science and Future), writing by French researcher Michel Spiro, a former president of the CERN Council, and CERN's own LHC Guide [PDF].  The challenge was to calculate the total energy of a proton based on the figures given for the LHC’s design energy, and to show mathematically that the energy of two colliding protons in the LHC is equal to 14 TeV at design energy. A further question explored the half-life of a B meson travelling close to the speed of light.

Think your physics is better than high-school level? If you can speak French, why not try section one of the exam here [PDF]. Students, you have one hour. No cheating!