Physicists Learn about Science and Innovation at CERN

Over the Easter holidays, School physicists travelled to Geneva to visit CERN (The European Organization for Nuclear Research), a European research organization that operates the largest particle physics laboratory in the world.

On the first morning, the group headed to the Microcosm, where the models of all major installations at CERN are on show. They explored how the particle accelerators functioned and then made their way to the Globe of Science and Innovation. In the afternoon, after lunch in the Red Cross café, the group explored Geneva town centre, enjoyed a treasure hunt and had a tour of the United Nations.

On the second day they had a guided tour of the Synchrocyclotron (the first particle accelerator at CERN) and the ATLAS.

Later that day they had the chance to conduct different experiments in S’Cool Lab under the supervision of PhD students. They were divided into four groups and firstly each made a cloud chamber, analysing traces of each particle.

The pupils also conducted two more experiments involving x-rays and electron tubes. They investigated whether food exposed to x-rays is safe to eat and had fun using x-rays to scan all sorts of objects from earphones to pepper. Through using the electron tubes, they learned how electrons behave in different electric and magnetic fields. This also explained how protons gain kinetic energy in the LHC when passing through high electric fields and how to keep those protons on a circular track with the help of superconducting electromagnets.

The annual CERN trip is an incredible opportunity to explore the research centre where the most prominent scientists in the world have worked, and is an important supplement to the school syllabus.

Emily Wang (N)