Year 12 Physics trip to CERN, Switzerland
On Thursday 24th January, 19 students along with Dr Hayes and Mr Sandford boarded a plane bound for Geneva. After arriving very late at the Geneva Hostel, our first challenge was to make our beds and get some sleep ready for the busy day at CERN.
There were quite a few bleary eyes the following morning for the 7 o’clock breakfast however, a short tram ride later and we were greeted with spectacular views of the snow-capped Mont Blanc. After being issued with our passes for the day, we watched an informative video and had a question and answer session with a CERN physicist with whom we spent most of the remainder of our visit.
On the tour, we were shown one of CERN’s first particle accelerators which marked the beginning of CERN’s pre-eminence as a research facility. Following a quick audio/visual demonstration, we took a coach over the French border to the Compact Muon Solenoid (CMS) detector site, which is one of the four detector experiments situated at points around the Large Hadron Collider (LHC). Here we saw life-size representations of the 14,000 tonne detector, and were given some fetching hair-nets and hard-hats and ventured 100m underground to see the entrance to the tunnels. We also saw the data centre and the original control room contrasted with the new.
Lunch was in the confusing and rather expensive CERN café and was followed by the Microcosm and Universe of Particles exhibitions, where we saw the first web server dating from the World Wide Web’s creation and the first particle accelerator which cost $25! Many bought souvenirs from the shop, which included the customary CERN hard-hat!
The rest of the afternoon was dedicated to a boat trip on Lake Geneva, which was a welcome break from the barrage of Physics we’d had that day.
The evening meal was in an authentic Swiss fondue restaurant, where a few willing volunteers took up the offer of playing the alpine horn!
The next day was dedicated to free time allowing us to explore Geneva and its old town, along with the museums the city has to offer. After seeing the United Nations building, we admired the iconic Jet D’Eau (where a few students got themselves soaked by the spray!) We visited the Museum of Natural History, where we saw the bone fossils of the oldest found human remains (Lucy) and a two-headed tortoise! The History of Art Museum had collections of medieval weapons and prehistoric, Roman and Egyptian art. Before visiting the final museum, we had the opportunity to climb the 314 steps to the top of the towers of the Cathédrale Saint Pierre which gave us fabulous views of the city. The History of Science Museum provided us with some useful revision with its exhibition on mechanics and its collection of vintage apparatus.
After dinner at the hostel on the final evening, we went bowling which rounded off a successful trip. Even in-the-face of some strong competition, Dr Hayes and Mr Sandford annihilated everyone and finished on top!
By Jonathan Swales and Lucy Ford.