Physics department trip to CERN, Geneva

By Elaine O'Brien, Physics Department, 27 June 2016

Early on a drizzly June morning a group of thirteen first year Physics students and three teachers set off on the college’s inaugural trip to Geneva to vitis the European Laboratory for Particle Physics, better known by the acronym CERN, home of the Large Hadron Collider.

The highlight of our trip was our visit to CERN. We enjoyed a presentation given by Dr Mike Tyrell, a retired British Physicist who helped to build the original particle accelerator in the 1970’s. His presentation outlined the work of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), the 27km long structure that is located approximately 100m beneath the Swiss-French border. Exploring the Physics behind accelerating particles such as protons and anti-protons to the 99.9999% of the speed of light and seeing the equipment needed to achieve it gave us all a new insight into Physics.

In the three days in Geneva we managed to fit in a raft of activities and visits. These included measuring distances at the History of Science Museum, eating Ice Cream at the Botanic gardens, exploring the internet at the ICT Discovery Centre, shopping in the old town, watching particle tracks in the cloud chamber at Microcosm, playing in the fountains at the UN square, relaxing with a drink by the lake and more.

Geneva was certainly a great hit, with free use of public transport, a great Youth Hostel and loads of sunshine. The trip was a success and we hope to repeat it with another group of students next year.  Throughout our stay in Geneva not only did we have the chance to view tourist attractions and experience local customs, but most importantly we were introduced to one of the most innovative and highly acclaimed research centres in the world.