Students use TOTEM data to determine if protons (quantum objects) obey classical conservation of momentum.

The TOTal cross section, Elastic scattering and diffraction dissociation Measurement (TOTEM) experiment is designed to understand the elastic collisions of protons in the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN. As stated on the TOTEM website, “TOTEM's physics program is dedicated to the precise measurement of the proton-proton interaction cross section, as well as to the in-depth study of the proton structure which is still poorly understood.” TOTEM detectors are installed just adjacent to the LHC beamline far forward (220 m) on either side of the Compact Muon Solenoid (CMS) detector. While CMS looks at the results of elastic and inelastic scattering of quarks and gluons in near or completely head-on collisions of protons of which they are components, TOTEM looks at the results of more glancing collisions from which the protons emerge intact. The scattering of these protons is at extremely shallow angles, generally on the order of one ten-thousandth of a radian or a thousandth of a degree.

Data Strand: 
Level 1

Curriculum Topics

Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) Practices: