Having sold over 100 million copies, Minecraft is one of the most popular video games ever developed, with users creating, sharing and exploring virtual worlds. Now, physicists working for the ATLAS experiment at the University of Oxford and the University of Birmingham are working with IRIS students to create the 'ATLAScraft' world, an interactive museum of particle physics in Minecraft.
The ATLAS detector, the Large Hadron Collider accelerator tunnels and the buildings of the CERN research facility are recreated in the video game using maps of CERN and Geneva. The students collaborate to build the separate components of the ATLAS detector at different scales in a way that explains their function to visitors. There will also be constructions that simulate particle collisions and interactions, as well as miniature games within the game. This takes advantage of the creative, 'LEGO-like' nature of Minecraft and the ability to edit some of its basic features to produce an environment resembling CERN. Later this year ATLAScraft will be available freely for gamers to download, providing an entertaining way to learn about the motivation, research and technology of the ATLAS experiment.
The project is being led by Professor Cigdem Issever from the University of Oxford along with Mark Pickering (Oxford) and Steve Worm (University of Birmingham) working on the project, and we currently have 3 Oxfordshire schools involved: The Abingdon School, Fitzharrys school and St. Helen's and St. Katherine's.