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Physics trip to CERN

On 22nd February, a mixture of GCSE, AS and A-level physics students took off to Geneva, to visit the one and only Large Hadron Collider on the border of France and Switzerland. We stayed in a great hostel in the centre of Geneva, with an amazing table football pitch where many matches took place! On our first day out, we went to CERN - the European Organisation for Nuclear research. This is the world’s largest and most complex scientific instrument to study the basic constituents of matter; the particles are made to collide near to the speed of light. The studies which take place there help scientists understand big questions, such as ‘How did it all start?’ and ‘What is the universe made of?’. After a walk around an exhibition to see the accelerators, we went to CERN’s canteen, where thousands of scientists join to discuss ideas. We were lucky enough to have a talk by one of the working scientists at ATLAS, who explained what a normal day is like. Next, a retired scientist showed us around the first Hadron Collider, which is now shut down, and explained all of its workings and how they used that model to design the Large Hadron Collider.

On the second day we went on an outing to the Plasma and Fusion Centre in Lausanne, where they investigate the future of generating electricity through nuclear fusion. We had the opportunity to be guided around their world famous plasma machine (the TOKAMAK), by an expert in the field. The next day we visited the United Nations, a focal point for diplomacy across the world, which is housed at the Palais des Nations. We saw all the trademark features, including the Broken Chair and Barcelò’s ‘The Sea’.

On our final day, we took the chance to visit Geneva’s old town and the ‘Jet d’Eau’ - one of the city’s most famous landmarks. We had a lovely day sightseeing and exploring the area. Overall, the week was a fantastic opportunity and everyone was sad to leave Switzerland. We’d like to say a big thank you to Mrs Daws and Mr Watson for organising such an amazing trip.

By Elysia Hackett and Chloe Batchford

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