Episode 192: How Do You Study the Smallest Things?

Meet the Expert: Dr. Katy Grimm, Associate Professor at California University State East Bay, researcher at CERN

Dr. Katy Grimm


Katy Grimm is an Associate Professor of Physics at California State University East Bay.  She is a particle physicist and does research at the Large Hadron Collider at the CERN laboratory in Geneva, Switzerland.  She was part of the team who discovered the Higgs boson particle, particularly showing that the Higgs bosons is responsible for giving mass to ordinary matter. She continues to work with her students to better understand the nature of the Higgs boson and its role in the history of the universe.

Katy is also committed to diversifying and expanding the physics community. She likes to engage with people over physics-themed baked goods, and she has used proton cookies to discuss the building blocks of the universe with hundreds of visitors to science events in California and at CERN.


                                                                   What is CERN?  European Organization for Nuclear Research.


                                       At CERN, we probe the fundamental structure of the particles that make up everything around us.
We do so using the world’s largest and most complex scientific instruments. https://home.cern/about


Click HERE to take an immersive tour of the accelerator complex at CERN

particle tracks

This is an image of particle tracks that you might see from the detector at CERN



Challenge:  Make your own proton and neutron cookies. Bake a sugar cookie (with your parent’s help), then add frosting (the gluon part of the atom) and sprinkles, nuts, or M&Ms of different colors to show the “up” quarks and “down” quarks. Make a proton:  2 up quarks and 1 down quark Make a neutron: 1 up quark and 2 down quarks

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Highlighted book for this episode!

Particle Physics: Brick by Brick  by Dr. Ben Still, PhD (Firefly Books)

A simple and entertaining introduction to the building blocks of the universe.

In 2014 the Lego® Group sold 62 billion Lego® pieces. That’s 102 Lego® bricks for every person in the world. That’s nothing however to the estimated seven billion billion billion atoms that make up each of us, let alone the between ten quadrillion vigintillion and one-hundred thousand quadrillion vigintillion atoms in the known observable universe.


Book List

Explore Atoms and Molecules!: With 25 Great Projects by Janet Slingerland (Nomad Press)

Albert Einstein and Relativity for Kids: His Life and Ideas with 21 Activities and Thought Experiments by Jerome Pohlen (Chicago Review Press)

Astrophysics for Young People in a Hurry by Neil deGrasse Tyson (Author), Gregory Mone (Contributor)  (Norton Young Readers)

A Black Hole is Not a Hole by Carolyn Cinami DeCristofano (Charlesbridge Publishing)

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