Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Quark-Gluon Plasma Card Game

Some time I wonder where these people come up with such ideas... :)

It appears that there's a game invented out of Hungary that is a card game, but also has a strong educational angle containing elementary particles of the Standard Model.

Linking subatomic particles with New Year’s Eve celebrations may not be so strange: Two years ago, a group of Hungarian secondary school students rang in the New Year while playing with particles, literally. The group, which included Judit Csörgő, daughter of RHIC/PHENIX collaborator Tamás Csörgő, and her friend Csaba Török, were at a New Year’s celebration, playing with the first edition of a set of cards invented by Csaba as an entertaining way to learn about subatomic particles and their interactions. The game, more formally developed and tested by the students with mentoring help from Tamás, won an honorable mention in a 2010 Hungarian competition for junior innovators. It is now available for purchase as an e-book, with cards included, on Lulu, currently with Hungarian directions. An English version is in the works.

Supposedly there is a version of the game called "Quark Matter".

“My favorite,” said Tamás, “is Quark Matter,” the game most closely related to RHIC physics. In it, the cards are mixed face up on a table, packed closely together to represent matter at the instant of a collision at RHIC—a quark-gluon plasma. The object for each of the players is to quickly extract particles as they would emerge from a RHIC collision: non-interacting neutrinos and antineutrinos first, followed by electron/positron and muon/anti-muon pairs, and then finally the quarks and anti-quarks as they hadronize, or freeze out, to form mesons (made of a quark and an anti-quark) , baryons (three quarks) and anti-baryons (three anti-quarks), all the while maintaining a neutral color charge (by joining red, green, and blue quarks, for instance, or red/anti-red pairs).

As players race one another to extract the correct particles, the “system” expands—as particle cards are pushed apart—just as it does in a real RHIC collision. Players score points for each correct particle pick.

“At the beginner level, students are usually quicker and more successful players, than physicists are,” Csaba added.

Hum... How do non-scientists would know which card to pull out? I mean, you have to first of all know that neutrinos don't interact and would be the first one to get pulled out before, say, electrons and muons. I'm not sure how a 6-year old, for example, would be able to know this and play the game.

Oh well. I suppose I have to either see this for myself, or play it, to verify its "addictiveness".

Edit: this webpage gives you info on how to order the card game.


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