Alexander here doing a guest blog post! Of course, the blog post I wanted to write the most was our CERN visit! Get ready this post gets a little technical.
When we went to Geneve we thought about what we should do and I remembered that CERN is based here. CERN if you have not heard of them before they are the European Organization for Nuclear Research. They operate the largest particle physics laboratory in the world, known as the Large Hadron Collider (LHC). It is the most powerful particle collider, and the largest single machine in the world. CERN has over 11,000 scientists from all over the world.
I looked it up and CERN gives free public tours. We took the tram from our AirBnB to CERN for our tour. When we got there we started the tour in their reception conference room and meet our tour guide, he is a physicist who works at ATLAS one of the experiments that is connected to the LHC. After a brief video talking about what CERN does we went to see the first device that was built at CERN the Synchrocyclotron. It was built in 1957, and they had an awesome video projection overlay on the device showing what each part does and gave the history about the start of CERN which was created from 12 European countries.
CERN now has 22 member states which fund the organization. But countries from all over the world can contribute Scientist to the development of CERN. After our visit of the Synchrocyclotron we headed to the control room of the ATLAS particle detector.
So what is the LHC you might ask, well, in short, it sends protons around a ring that is 27km in circumference and 500 ft underground to smash into each other in order to recreate the events of the Big Bang on a micro scale. ATLAS is one of the detectors connected along the LHC that have highly sensitive sensors that detect the smash the particles creates. Along the way to the control room of ATLAS we see an example one of the tubs that the particles travel along. The LHC runs all the time smashing particles.
The reason they keep sending protons around and around is that in part it takes 5 weeks to warm up the tube to room temperature and takes 5 weeks to cool back down, the internals of the tube is below 200*c and they use $10million worth of liquid nitrogen a year in order to cool the tube. We were not able to see the detector underground which is 150 feet long and 82 feet high and weighs about 7,000 tonnes because the LHC create radiation while it is active.
We then saw the control room of the ATLAS experiment which was amazing! It was so cool to see the scientist work to smash protons together and to think about that under our feet micro explosions hotter than the sun was occurring.
We also then saw some exhibits about the LHC and the Big Bang they were very impressive, very high tech for being free. Then headed to the gift shop before heading back our AirBnB after a long day at CERN.
It was incredible to be at a scientific project so massive and impressive. Had a lot of fun and very informative!