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Visiting The Large Hadron Collider in Geneva, Switzerland

Published • Blog
By Victor - year 13 Physics, Maths & Further Maths A level student.

When I went to my first physics class at SFX, I wouldn’t have expected to one day be travelling to Switzerland and to visit CERN. I’ve heard of a friend who went on the same trip, and after knowing that it was possible to go I began asking Mr Askwith every day to take us on the famous trip. Sure enough, with my constant annoyance, he agreed to take the whole class! I’ve always wanted to visit Switzerland, and going to both Switzerland and CERN at once was a dream come true.

Getting on the plane posed a challenge to some of the students, some were scared of planes and others had really bad motion sickness, thankfully it was a 2-hour flight, just enough to get bored, not enough for free food. But through the hardship we landed safely on Switzerland, got on a train, walked a lot, and were finally at the hostel in which we were staying.
 

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The hostel was cosy, food was good, and we had the freedom to walk around wherever we wanted. The only downside was that the boys rooms could only fit 6 people, and we were 13 so we needed an extra bed. Now, I’m not saying I’m still mad that they pushed me to the extra bed without hesitation, but… no, I’m still mad. But honestly, the rooms were fun, there was a “camping” atmosphere, as if we were all independent and hanging out.
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After sleeping for the night, it was time for the first day visiting CERN (the European Organization for Nuclear Research), in the first day we visited the museum, the big ball building next to the research facility. It was spectacular. I couldn’t express the feeling of walking in the building if I tried. The demonstrations of items used by scientists and in the machines were something to marvel at, and the cherry on top of the cake was the big bang sequence; the whole room went dark, and all the walls were projected with scenes depicting the big bang, from nothing, to atoms, to planets. The museum was truly indescribable. Just outside was a statue with names of important mathematicians/physicists in chronological order, I praised it endlessly.

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The second day was the visit to the facilities, where I bought my favourite keychain (on the photo), and had a battle with a friend from the class over who could answer more questions on the introduction talk. We tied, the other 50 people lost. The facilities also included a small museum of how the collider works and various other demonstrations, one of which had me crazy because it looked unreal. It was a machine that detects radiation particles, and it showed waves of fog where the particles passed. I never thought I could love a machine so much. After that we went to a different building by bus, in France, the building was made to be a demonstration of how the collider works, all the problems that could rise from it, and quick explanations on how the physics of the collider work.

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Finally, we went on to a centre for data collection, where they collected evidence of neutrinos that passed through an attachment of the ISS. It was nothing short of wonderful seeing the actual place where they collected evidence for the “real” science. Oh, and an 80 year old Nobel prize winner walked casually around us to go to the bathroom while the tour guide waved at him, you know, everyday stuff.

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And just like that the trip was done. It was truly life-changing, really fun, informative, and overall a very good experience. I’m so glad I went, and thank you on behalf of the whole class. Please annoy Mr Askwith for this trip when you can! :)

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