On Friday 3rd May we took 13 of our Year 12 Science pupils to visit the Large Hadron Collider at CERN in Geneva, Switzerland.
The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is the world’s largest and most powerful particle accelerator. The LHC consists of a 27-kilometre ring of superconducting magnets with a number of accelerating structures to boost the energy of the particles along the way.
During their visit, the students received a lecture on the work of CERN from one of the Physicists working on the LHC before being taken by them for a tour. During the tour, the students visited the Synchrocyclotron, the first accelerator built at CERN (pictured). The 600 MeV Synchrocyclotron (SC), built in 1957, provided beams for CERN’s first experiments in particle and nuclear physics. In 1964, this machine started to concentrate on nuclear physics alone, leaving particle physics to the newer and much more powerful Proton Synchrotron (PS).
After this, the students visited the ATLAS experiment. ATLAS is one of two general-purpose detectors at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC). It investigates a wide range of physics, from the search for the Higgs boson to extra dimensions and particles that could make up dark matter. Although it has the same scientific goals as the CMS experiment, it uses different technical solutions and a different magnet-system design.
During their visit, the students were able to have a look around the Microcosm, the CERN visitors centre and experience a more hands-on approach to the work that was carried out. They also visited the Globe, an art installation on the site.
During the trip, the students also got the chance to explore the historic old town of Geneva including the Reformation Wall, the Cathedral of St. Pierre, and the L’ancien arsenal. On Saturday morning the students visited the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Museum, learning about the history and work of the organisation and viewing an exhibit about prisons around the world.
The trip ended with a quick pop over the border to France and a trip up the Mont-Salève cable car for a hot chocolate and a snowball fight (there was still snow in May!) before visiting the Natural History Museum.