Woodhouse College
Alica Derome Rebecca Saul

Fondue, chocolate and large ion collisions

Dated: 22 June 2018

 
 
Every year, our physics department take students on a trip to CERN in Geneva, home of the large hadron collider.
 
Physics student Julianne Best shared her thoughts about the trip
 
“I wasn’t sure what to expect when visiting CERN… however I liked it more than I expected to, have done things I have never thought I would and seen things I never expected to see.
 
I thought the scientists at CERN would be unrelatable, but after meeting my tour guides who worked in different departments at the centre my view completely changed. They were incredibly friendly and showed us what it was like working at CERN and all the different people from all over the world who work there. I now would like to work there as an engineer in the future.
 
We also were able to visit the rest of Geneva which was a beautiful city. My friends and I rented bikes and cycled from the city centre to the UN building, went on a boat ride and tried Swiss fondue. I would recommend the trip to anyone and it was a great break after exams. And of course we took back so much chocolate!”
 
 
Student Ali Vecchi Marsh shared Julianne’s enthusiasm for the trip and was kind enough to open up the pages of his diary for us…
 
“It was four in the morning, and we all stood around the school gates. Despite having only slept for a few hours, we were all still eager to explore the beautiful city of Geneva.
 
After leaving our bags at our hotel (a luxurious Ibis Budget), we set off by ourselves to tour the city. There was a multitude of things to do: hire bikes, fail to hire bikes due to age restrictions, visit the museums, take a boat ride across the lake, scale a mountain, or spend all of our money on chocolate.
 
My journey began by spending hours wandering aimlessly around Geneva in search of a bike hire station, with the goal of cycling to the mountains. Sadly, when we eventually found it, it turned out we were too young to hire them, but it was still a great, albeit tiring, way of seeing the sights.
 
Using our passes which entitled us to free public transport, some people were able to take a tram to the mountains, where they could then take a cable car up to the top, getting a spectacular view of the city. Unfortunately, I ended up going to a kebab shop.
 
We then had the option of staying out for dinner, or rendezvousing with the teachers at the hotel, with whom we would go out to have some fondue, a classic Swiss dish.
 
After waiting some time for a table to become available, we were able to enjoy our dinner (which certainly surpassed my previous meal). Not only was the food great, but we also had a spectacular view of the famous Jet D'Eau, a magnificent fountain that projects water to a breathtaking altitude of 140 metres.
 
Despite some of us being the victim of bird droppings, which a local described as "bonne chance", this was one of the highlights of our day.
 
After taking a boat ride across Lake Geneva, we returned to our hotel, only to set our alarms early for the next morning to make it to CERN on time.
 
 
CERN, the European Organisation for Nuclear Research, home to the Large Hadron Collider, is a world class particle physics research centre.
 
On arrival, we were introduced to Mac, a physicist working at CERN, and our guide for the day. We were first shown a video, explaining what CERN is, why it exists, and other interesting facts. One of the main reasons it was founded was due to the drop in quality of European science research after the war, as many of the successful scientists of the time were leaving Europe to work in America. Lots of scientists got together, and had the idea of creating a European physics laboratory, so that the great costs of running a nuclear physics lab could be shared amongst the member states, and to also unite European scientists, so their ideas could shared and tested.
 
CERN has made great innovations in physics and technology, such as the discovery of the Higgs Boson, and the development of the World Wide Web.
 
 

After the video, we were taken to ALICE, which stands for A Large Ion Collider Experiment. It is one of the seven detector experiments at the Large Hadron Collider. At ALICE, physicists recreate the conditions similar to those just after the big bang.
 
We were shown a replica cross-section of what the detector looks like, and the measures taken to insure that people working around the detector are kept safe, including huge concrete blocks which block radiation from reaching us, and retina detectors to prevent unauthorised access into the detector.
 
The next location we visited was ATLAS, another particle detector experiment. Here we saw some of the components making up the tunnels through which the particles are accelerated, and a replica of a section of the LHC.
 
When the tour was over, we went to the Globe of Science and Innovation, which is the brown dome you see when you search for CERN on google images. No real work actually takes place here, it's just the visitor centre, which houses the very eerie CERN museum. After lunch and a visit to the gift shop, we were once again free to tour Geneva before returning to the airport.
 
After a long delay, during which people were able to watch the World Cup game, we eventually arrived back at Woodhouse.
 
To conclude, I would like to extend my gratitude to Mr Makepeace (Head of Physics), and all the other members of staff who organised this trip for us. It was a great experience, and I believe everyone else who attended would agree that we all had a fantastic time. We were given a great amount of independence (I was worried I'd be stuck with the teachers all day), and I would recommend that if anyone has the opportunity to do something similar, they should certainly do it."


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