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Exploring the fundamental nature of the universe

“You’re exploring the fundamental nature of the universe.” That’s why Jacob Hughes says he enjoys studying physics. “I think that’s quite a cool idea that the things that you are doing are universal. You can find out things that are really fundamental to everything that happens.”

Jacob is studying Honours in Physics. His research is looking at electron scattering.

“We create a beam of electrons from a source of some kind, in this case a wire. Then you use those electrons and you fire them at a target. In this case it will be gas targets. Then you detect the electrons which come through the other side. The change in energy that these electrons have from when you produce them from the source tells you something about the target.”

“This research is potentially really important, as electron interactions with gas targets are a primary interaction in plasma. Understanding how these interactions work therefore is really important for understanding the whole plasma process. The work I’m doing therefore can help with plasma technologies, which is the next big step for clean energy.”

Jacob says he came to the ANU because it provided a unique opportunity to research into an area as important as this, and to do so using experimental techniques.

“I took a year off last year, but then came to the ANU as I knew it was a good research facility and it offered programs I was interested in.”

“One of the great things about it is that the experiment I’m doing is a different method from “traditional” methods in this area. It’s kind of a new look at electron scattering.”

“It’s exciting to be able to do research into such a new area, using such a unique technique.”

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About Simon Copland

Simon Copland is a freelance writer and climate campaigner. In his spare time he plays rugby union and is a David Bowie fanatic. He is a regular columnist for the Sydney Star Observer, blogs at The Moonbat and tweets at @SimonCopland.

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