Andres Olivares del Campo
Ready and excited to start!!
Favourite Thing: The fact that every second, billions of particles go through us and we do not feel anything. Yet, we can understand their properties and build experiments to see them!
UWC Mahindra College of India 2009-2011, Imperial College London 2011-2014, University of Cambridge 2014-2015, Durham University 2015-current
Internatioanl Baccalaurete (2011), BSc in Physics with Theoretical Physics (2014), Part III MAST in Applied Mathematics (2015)
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PhD student at Durham Universtiy
I am a Spanish particle physics PhD student at Durham University.
I am from Madrid but I have been living away since I was 16. I spent two years in an international boarding school in India and then moved to the UK for university. This is my second year in Durham and even though is a small town, I love it! Apart from physics, I like to teach and to practice sports. I teach physics and mathematics to high school students and help other undergraduates at Durham with their physics and mathematics modules. I am also a member of the boxing and judo clubs. I have been doing judo for over 15 years but two years ago, I decided to pick up boxing as well. This year, I am also in charge of the fitness sessions for boxing. I have also been playing the violin for more than 10 years and nowadays, I try to practice occasionally. I also love traveling and meeting new people from all over the world!
I try to understand the connections between neutrinos and Dark Matter.
Neutrinos are some fundamental (indivisible), tiny, neutral particles. Neutral means that they do not have an electric charge (like for example, electrons do). Therefore, they are very difficult to see! However, one can build some huge detectors to find them. In addition, our visible universe shows only a 5% of all its matter content. 68% of it is something that we do not understand very well and therefore, we call it Dark Energy (because it sounds mysterious) but the other 27% is something we know it exists: Dark Matter. Dark Matter is very similar to a neutrino since it is also neutral and cannot easily be seen. However, it is more elusive and in fact, we still have not detected it yet! However, we know that Dark Matter weights and which explains why some galaxies rotate faster than they should! Nevertheless, there are many properties of Dark Matter (like how much it weights) that we do not know yet and I try to understand them by studying how Dark Matter interacts with neutrinos.
My Typical Day
I go to the office and work with a computer or I try to solve equations on my notebook.
On a typical day, I try to wake up at a reasonable time and get into the office before noon. I usually start the day by checking the new scientific publications in my field (there are usually about 20-30 per day) and I read the ones that I find interesting. Afterwards, I usually do some pen and paper work, double checking my equations with a computer or using computer programs to tests some ideas. Additionally, I do a bit of more elaborated coding to simulate what we could see on a real experiment, trying to understand if some experiments could be used to test our theories. Some evenings, I attend a seminar or a journal club, where we present and discuss different scientific papers in a group, other days I help undergraduates with their exercises. When I finish work, I attend judo or boxing training (depending on the day of the week) and if it is not too late, I usually give an online class to some of my high school students.
What I'd do with the money
I would like to organize a series of particle physics talks and hands-on tutorials in local schools around the area.
When I was in high school, I wish I had more opportunities to go beyond my syllabus and learn about particle physics. Therefore, I would like to go to local schools and talk to the students about particle physics and organize some “hands-on” tutorials that will show how particle physicists work! The idea will be to follow the talks with some interactive exercises using real data to give the students a taste of what particle physicist do on their day to day work. The tutorials would probably be more relevant for ages between 15-18 but they could be adapted to other levels an ages.
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
Adventurous, curious and restless.
Who is your favourite singer or band?
It is difficult to pick only one, but if I have to, I would say Tarrus Riley.
What's your favourite food?
My grandmother’s traditional Spanish dish called “cocido” (ask me if you want to know what it is made of!).
What is the most fun thing you've done?
Being a firefighter at my highschool in India. Once I was allowed to leave an exam because there was a big fire next to the school!
What did you want to be after you left school?
I always liked mathematics and physics so I wanted to become an academic in theoretical physics.
Were you ever in trouble at school?
I used to talk a lot to my classmates during classes and that got me in trouble a few times…
What was your favourite subject at school?
Surprise, surprise: Mathematics…
What's the best thing you've done as a scientist?
I have made a computer program that simulates the number of neutrinos produced when Dark Matter particles collide and become pure energy.
What or who inspired you to become a scientist?
My interest in understanding how very very small things work.
If you weren't a scientist, what would you be?
If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!
Well, if I were able to say that my first wish is to have infinite wishes that will make it very easy, but if that is cheating I will go with: 1) To be happy 2) To have days that last 26 hours! 3) To be able to teleport to everywhere I want, whenever I want.
Tell us a joke.
A neutron walked into a bar and asked, “How much for an orange juice?” The bartender smiled and replied, “For you, no charge.”
Since all my work happens in a boring office with a computer, I thought of putting some pictures related to my work instead of work photos.
For example, this one is the picture of a neutrino detector, Super Kamiokande in Japan, which gets filled with 1500 tons of pure water in order to catch one of those elusive neutrinos!
This simulation (taken from wikipedia) shows one of the strongest arguments for the existence of Dark Matter:
We expect that, as we go away from the center of a galaxy, it rotates slower (look at the simulation on the left) since the gravitational force gets smaller the further away you go from the center of the mass. However, observations tell us that the velocity stays constant (look at the simulation on the right)! Therefore, there must be more mass that we cannot see which makes the outer parts of the galaxy rotate at the same speed. This missing mass that we do not see is Dark Matter!
Finally, I wanted to put a picture of the kind of work I do. This is a pictorial (almost like a cartoon!) way of representing the interactions between neutrinos and dark matter particles. This way is used by many physicist and was invented by Feynman, therefore they are called Feynman diagrams and it is a very nice way of simplifying calculations!
If you have any questions, please, fire away!