This term, Year 11, 12 and 13 physicists ventured to Geneva for a truly mind-blowing trip to CERN!
The European Organisation for Nuclear Research (known as CERN) is a research organisation that operates the largest particle physics laboratory in the world. It houses the World-Famous Large Hadron Collider; a 27 Kilometre ring of electromagnets which straddle the French-Swiss border and are part of the most complex physics experiment ever!
During their visit, students were given a tour by top Physicist Dr Vincent Smith who as a member of the CERN community, enjoying his personal insight and many words of wisdom from his extensive experience in the field. CERN’s research programme is working on probing the fundamental structure of the universe and Dr Smith explained how they use the facilities to study the basic constituents of matter – the fundamental particles. Students were lucky enough to be able to handle and explore the building blocks of a particle accelerator.
If this wasn’t enough, the tour also included a visit to a NASA control centre where a collaboration between NASA and CERN called Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS) looks for dark matter, antimatter and missing matter from a module on the International Space Station. Whilst we were there an astronaut was communicating with the control centre live on the screen! Incredible!
Scientific breakthroughs such as the discovery of the Higgs boson require experimental machines on a large scale, and the students gained an appreciation of the technical and engineering challenges that the multinational experimental collaborations at CERN face. Following lunch in the CERN restaurant, students visited THE office where Tim Berners-Lee changed the world forever and invented the World Wide Web!
As a bonus excursion during their time in Geneva pupils had a guided tour of the United Nations building which proved a unique and fascinating interlude on their trip.
All in all it was a truly inspiring visit for us all. Seeing the home of cutting-edge physics and ever evolving scientific exploration really got students thinking about their futures after Claremont. We hope to hear of some of our students going back to CERN as scientists or engineers in the coming years!