Following a very early start, Year 13 Physics students flew to Geneva for a whirlwind tour of CERN and the Large Hadron Collider. Our visit coincided with a very special day at CERN – the scheduled Long Shutdown of the LHC for a major upgrade.
We first visited the (very snowy) CERN Globe – an exhibition centre full of high-tech interactive pods on the ‘Universe of Particles’. Following our tour of the Microcosm Museum, housing old detectors and detailing the history of CERN, we were privileged to be able to visit the CERN restaurant, a bustling cosmopolitan environment where we did see working scientists arguing over their equations over a three course lunch.
In the afternoon we were given a brief lecture on the work going on at CERN by a final year PhD student before being taken on a guided tour. We visited the magnet monitoring facility where were able to see the testing of the accelerating magnets used in the LHC and where the next generation of magnets is currently being developed. Our final stop was the ATLAS detector control centre where we saw the post shutdown tests being conducted.
The day showed our students cutting edge research and development and the biggest questions being addressed by this international collaboration of theorists and engineers. The interactive exhibits and knowledgeable guides kept us fully occupied, leaving us time for a brief visit to the shores of Lake Geneva and supper before catching our evening flight back to England.