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Sixth Formers visit CERN

Sixth Formers visit CERN
Thursday 29th March 2012 by C. Freeman

Sixth Formers mingled with top physicists on a recent visit to CERN in Geneva. It is the second year that the Science department has made a trip to the European Organisation for Nuclear Research, home of the Large Hadron Collider.

The students enjoyed a tour of Geneva and a chocolate factory before heading to CERN. There they saw two exhibitions, Microcosm and The Universe of Particles, used the staff canteen and then had a tour with a guide who explained the cutting edge science that takes place there. The collider, which measures 27 kilometres in circumference, is a feat of engineering, buried deep underground, tilted at an angle and spanning the French and Swiss borders.

Mr Tiktin said: ‘The students had the opportunity to really ask questions about physics in a real context, how scientists are actually investigating the first nano-seconds of what happened in the Big Bang; really understanding in depth what is happening inside the atom. It covered everything from the major right down to the very, very minute.

‘Part of the course in the Year 13 is about sub-nuclear physics, so CERN opens up the opportunity for students to research low temperature physics, dark matter or dozens of other related topics. For me a highlight was seeing them listening to the very latest research; what is in the very smallest part of an atom. In the museum there is a mock up of what is underground, the scientists are working with very high vacuums and the gases contained in the pipe are at minus 273 Celsius so the engineering and accuracy involved in the research at CERN is incredible!’

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