CERN Visit to The Large Hadron Collider

Posted on: 30/04/2018

The A2 Physics class, and a handful of brave Further Maths students, embarked on a pilgrimage to see the Large Hadron Collider in Geneva. Being the culmination of the largest international scientific effort ever coordinated, the collider (the LHC) is still spearheading pioneering research into the building blocks constituting reality, from the production of stable antimatter to more famous experiments such as the verification of the Higg’s Boson.

Having landed in Geneva, our small crew were staying in a quiet corner of the city, next to a Swiss school, where we would be able to hone our knowledge of particle physics by completing some of the barely sub-infinite quantities of problem-solving packs, generously provided to us by Dr Mehta. On leaving our accommodation, now a fortified bastion of study, we spent the majority of the day touring the CERN facilities themselves. The Hadron Collider itself is a 27km underground tunnel - hence most of the over-ground buildings are placed above the particular points in the collider where there are inbuilt detectors. The tunnels in CERN are composed of long cylindrical superconducting magnets, which compress the protons in the beam, bridged by radiofrequency cavities which generate the alternating AC current (at half the frequency of the proton itself), that accelerates bunches of the protons in the quantised proton beam for collisions at relativistic speeds with an identical proton beam circulating in the opposite direction.

Following a thorough exploration of CERN, having visited the Central Control Centre located 5 minutes over the border in France, and having been shocked when the coffee machines there would only accept Euros and not Swiss Franks, we headed towards the Geneva town centre to absorb some of the rich cultural sights. We arrived at the square containing the famous broken chair statue, an icon of humanitarian civil rights. Upholding the values of the chair, a large crowd of citizens in two separate groups were protesting global human rights violations; in the Kurdish border by Turkish armed forces, and also in the Congo by government forces. With the United Nations building a stone’s throw away, and in the backdrop of this civil strife, two brave Hatch End students strode forward to make a gesture of unity in the face of division - with one piggybacking the other - they worked in unison to hold up the chair by its broken leg, symbolising that through co-operation and understand­ing even the greatest adversity can be overcome. This is embodied by the project at CERN.

Scientists and contributors from over 136 countries globally, collaborate and combine their abilities, and through this have been able to gain insight into the particles making up our universe far beyond the wildest dreams of any past scientists.

By Alan Yahya (6NMa/ASe) and Leo Harrision (6SEv) - March 2018

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