31 Year 12 physics students have recently returned from a fantastic visit to the Large Hadron Collider at CERN. The three-day residential trip composed of a lecture and tour of the Compact Muon Solenoid (CMS) detector and an amazing opportunity to discuss and ask questions of a number of physicists working at CERN.
We also had the opportunity to visit two wonderful museums at CERN giving an interactive guide and explanation of the history of CERN and how the particles are accelerated to almost the speed of light and then made to collide into each other releasing a host of sub atomic particles that lead to the famous discovery of the Higgs Boson in 2012!
Not only did we have the opportunity to visit the World’s Greatest Experiment we were also fortunate enough to experience the delights of Swiss culture with a free music festival as well as cooling off in Lake Geneva. All the students had a fantastic time and here are a selection of comments and photos from the trip.
Visiting CERN rekindled my enthusiasm for physics, as it allowed me to see it being applied on a big scale. Thursday was mainly taking in the culture and wandering round the area, Friday we visited the main CERN site; we had an insightful talk, which explained the sciences behind the colliders and their aims at CERN. After we were talking about how impressive our lecturers’ recall of knowledge was. Seeing the collaborative nature of the project was warming as people from all over the world come to visit, work and study at CERN. Going swimming in the lake was an amazing experience and was one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen. I particularly liked the Universe of Particles exhibition, the visuals and detailed explanations consolidated my knowledge and gave me deeper insight into one of the most interesting areas of physics. Only problem was I was really tired when I got back. Louise Hagger
Not often would I genuinely call any experience ‘once-in-a-lifetime’, but the APS trip to CERN was truly unmissable. The 3 days we spent in the stunning country of Switzerland was packed with science, adventure and above all, fun. Not a single second from take-off to landing proved to be dull. The talks and tours were engaging, informative and exceedingly interesting; the walks through Geneva’s old town were culturally enriching, picturesque and wonderfully characteristic. As you approached CERN, you could feel a distinct aura of intelligence and wisdom from miles away, housing the world’s most famous experiment, a delightful museum showing the intricacies of the oldest supercollider, and an even more detailed microcosm (with a cloud chamber that you would not believe). Geneva is one of those extremely unique cities that you simply do not want to leave, and only after seeing CERN, the United Nations headquarters and the picturesque Lake Geneva (that you get the opportunity to swim in!) will you see just how right I am.Tomasz Mistela
The CERN trip was both fun and interesting. The lecture from a scientist who worked at CERN managed to be understandable- as it involved topics we were currently learning about in class and also challenging enough to be interesting. Visiting CMS was amazing. The scope of all of the equipment and the engineering that went into creating it was incredible and being able to go down and look at everything was great inside for people looking to go into similar fields.
Separate from the science, the cultural experience was fun. The food at CERN was better than any of us ever thought it would be and being able to visit sites in Geneva such as the UN building, the beautiful lake and the old town was a good way to spend our time outside of learning.Paul Chessum
Switzerland, where do I begin? The land of physics. I arrived to Geneva with reservations about how my knowledge would deal with the greatest scientific research programme in the world. I soon learnt that I had nothing to worry about…
We visited one of four detectors at CERN, the CMS and we also went to interesting museums. We were even lucky enough to eat at the CERN restaurant with some of the world’s leading professors. The particle accelerator was mesmerising and the science behind it was truly captivating. During the weeks before we left for Geneva, we had learnt about a bit behind the physics at CERN so when it came to the tour and lecture I had bags of questions ready to test the scientists.
During our time in CERN we managed to also find some free time to enjoy the surroundings and relax on Lake Geneva. We also had a walk around the old town and the city was alive with the music festival, which was very enjoyable. On the last day we squeezed in time to see the UN headquarters. What a trip!Ben Showell
I had a great time at CERN, it was very interesting learning how the particle accelerator works and seeing around what went behind the scenes, for example going into the CMS (compact muon solenoid). The museums were very inspiring as well with excellent visual information. Other than the actuallearning part, Switzerland was a very beautiful country and where we stayed in Geneva had a great atmosphere and the people were kind and the weather was perfect. The city at night and day had great views of the late and monuments which made the trip that much better.James Jones-Smith
“Our trip to CERN started off with a lecture by a physicist from Bristol University. The talk went into depth on the way the Large Hadron Collider works, the particles involved, the discoveries made and the aims of the programme in the long term. The science involved was fairly advanced, but remained interesting and accessible. Following this, we were taken to the CMS - Compact Muon Solenoid, one of the four particle detectors situated around the LHC. There, we were split into groups and taken on a tour of certain parts of the building by a CERN physicist. This tour was very interesting, enlightening us on the complex role of the CMS in the detection of particles produced by collisions in the LHC, such as the Higgs-Boson. Our tour guide explained the process by which scientists decide which collisions are interesting, and should be saved to look at in greater detail. We were then taken down the 100m to the level of the actual detector. This was the most interesting aspect of the trip- there were many signs up with warnings of radioactivity and strong magnetic fields. Our tour guide showed us how a chain of metal paper clips would not hang straight down, but was curved, due to the magnetic field of the CMS around 30m away.
Then we were taken back to the main reception at CERN, where we were lucky enough to have lunch in the large canteen. There was a wide variety of food there, reflecting the many nationalities of the scientists who work there. Once we sat down in the canteen, it was fascinating to be amongst all of these scientists, and see them discussing their work. One of the main points I took away from this visit was the wide variety of skills and jobs required at CERN- not only physicists are required, but engineers, geologists, computer scientists, statisticians, mathematicians and many more. It was a fantastic place to see the huge number of jobs stemming from STEM subjects, and the immense impact global scientific collaboration can make.
Outside of CERN we also had many fun experiences, such as walking around Lake Geneva to the old town, walking down the pier in the evening and visiting the UN Headquarters just a tram ride away. One afternoon we went swimming in the lake, which was refreshing after a long morning in the Swiss sun. After a swim in the water, we played card games and even played a long game of volleyball in the water. This was fun and a great end to the day.Clare Walsh