The hot air balloons place in scientific history will also be celebrated as live cosmic ray experiments are recreated in the skies above the festival, which takes place from 9 to 12 August 2012.
Its the first time science has had such a strong presence at the festival, marking a year in which many UK researchers contributed to the work of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) in Geneva to find the elusive Higgs boson particle, the key to explaining why matter has mass. It is also 100 years since since Nobel Prize winner Victor Hess showed the existence of cosmic rays by conducting his experiments in balloons.
Visitors will be able to see for themselves how the LHC is used to answer fundamental questions about the building blocks of the universe thanks to the interactive exhibit which is being brought to Bristol by the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC).
The replica tunnel is a 3.8m wide section of the actual LHC, which lies 100m beneath the Franco-Swiss border at CERN.
"This is a unique opportunity in terms of raising awareness of the amazing work that is being done at the LHC and the immense contribution that the UK is making to such big science. Never before has this message been showcased on such a large scale to such a varied audience in the UK", said Professor John Womersley, Chief Executive of STFC.
STFC has joined forces with the University of Bristol to celebrate the hot air balloons place in scientific history.
Victor Hess showed the existence of cosmic rays - particles coming from outside the Earth - by taking an electroscope in a hot air balloon and showing that radiation levels increased with altitude, rather than decreased. This showed that, instead of coming from the Earth as many scientists believed, cosmic rays were bombarding our planet from space.
In the 1930s fellow Nobel Prize winner Cecil Powell, who lived in Clifton and worked at the University of Bristol, used cosmic rays to make important discoveries about nuclear particles by also conducting experiments in balloons flown right up to the edge of the atmosphere.
This experiment will be recreated during the festival and the results communicated back to the ground where visitors can watch the live results.
Dr David Cussans, from the School of Physics at Bristol University, said: Hess and Powell gave us our first glimpses into an invisible world, with apparatus that nowadays can be constructed by an amateur or school. I was inspired to study High Energy Physics by enthusiasm for measuring the unseen - I hope we can share some of this enthusiasm with visitors to the Bristol Balloon Fiesta.
A-Level students have been involved in constructing the cosmic ray detectors as part of a summer placement funded by a Nuffield Foundation Science Bursary, which encourages students to work alongside professional scientists, technologists, engineers and mathematicians.
PhD students from the University of Bristol and the London universities who have worked with CERN on the Higgs boson discovery will also be on hand to answer questions and inspire the next generation of scientists.
Dr David Newbold, Head of the Bristol Particle Physics Group, said: The fantastic discoveries at CERN this year have been all over the news, but I know a lot of people are not quite sure what a boson is, or why we've been trying to find one! I hope we'll have the chance to explain how our experiments work, and why we think they are important.
Within the STFC tent at the Balloon Fiesta, there will also be hands-on exhibits such as a spinning ball particle accelerator, which shows how the 1,600 superconducting magnets within the LHC can control and accelerate a subatomic particle; and the cosmic ray detector, which allows visitors to see how frequently a subatomic particle passes through the equipment.
The festival, which is sponsored by Jones Lang LaSalle and is one of the largest outdoor events in the country, takes place at Ashton Court between Thursday, 9 August and Sunday, 12 August.
For more information about the Balloon Fiesta, visit www.bristolballoonfiesta.co.uk
Provided by University of Bristol
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