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Sixth Form Physicists Visit Cern

01 Feb

After a very early departure from Princethorpe College, 21 Sixth Form students flew to Geneva on Friday 26 January on a mission to visit CERN.

The group, led by Mrs Rose with support from Mr Lee, spent the first day sightseeing on a self-guided walking tour, taking in the United Nations, Botanical Garden, Lake Geneva and the Science Museum. Then after a few hours downtime at the Geneva Youth Hostel their day concluded with a walking tour of another section of the Lake that was lit up with over 30 installations as part of the Geneva Lux festival and a visit to the old town.

Day 2 was all about CERN (European Organisation for Nuclear Research). They enjoyed two tours, the first with a physicist who explained what CERN was trying to achieve, how the particle detector worked and some of the successes such as the invention of the World Wide Web, particle accelerators that are used in medicine and the discovery of the Higgs Boson (an elusive subatomic particle that was predicted, but had not yet been detected). The second tour was to the Cryogenic Research Facility, where they were introduced to how the beams of charged particles were accelerated and steered around the 27km long ring which lies 100m below the city of Geneva, using extremely strong superconducting magnets achieved by supercooling them down to less than -271˚C (below 2 kelvin). 

The CERN visit finished with 45 minutes in the brand new exhibition centre, which included a plethora of hands-on demonstrations and interactive sections which brought the physics behind the experiment alive.