Particle detective : a citizen science project for the Large Hadron Collider

Lead Research Organisation: University of Oxford
Department Name: Oxford Physics


Citizen Science allows you, whoever you may be, to engage directly in the scientific process itself.

This project is allows you to analyse the data from the Large Hadron Collider, and to identify features which may be indicative of particles or processes not yet known to science. By studying images of collisions from the ATLAS experiment you can observe the debris from the collisions, and search for long-lived particles which may (or may not) be being produced in the High Energy Collisions at the LHC.

The project is being run in conjunction with the "Zooiverse" citizen science alliance, which already has a user base of more than a million users.

This fellowship allow Prof Barr, a researcher working on the ATLAS experiment at the LHC, to help with the design, implementation, release and evaluation of this, the first Large Hadron Collider citizen science project.
Description The first mass-participation citizen science project for particle physics analysis
was a success, with large participation and generally positive survey feedback.

When provided with the communication tools to do so, citizen scientists formed
a community that developed its own experts and its own technical language.

Citizen scientists report increased engagement with science as a result of
participation, and a strong appetite for more projects of this nature.
Exploitation Route These are detailed in our publications
Sectors Education

Description The engagement of citizen scientists with the citizen science project is investigated through analysis of behaviour, discussion and survey data. More than 42,000 citizen scientists from 179 countries participated, classifying 1.5 million features of interest on about 38,000 distinct images. While most citizen scientists classified only a handful of images, some classified hundreds or even thousands. Analysis of frequently used terms on the dedicated discussion forum demonstrated that a high level of scientific engagement was not uncommon. Evidence was found for an emergent and distinct technical vocabulary developing within the citizen science community. A survey indicates a high level of engagement and an appetite for further citizen science projects related to the Large Hadron Collider. Please read the impact paper for a full assessment:
Sector Education
Impact Types Cultural,Societal

Description HiggsHunters@Schools 
Organisation The Institute For Research In Schools
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution Provided data to schools and hosted workshop at oxford
Collaborator Contribution Organised disseminated data etc
Impact The collaboration is still in progress
Start Year 2016
Description HiggsHunters website 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact See impact paper at
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014,2015,2016,2017,2018