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Visit to CERN 2016

On Monday the 11th of July, 19 A-level Physics students, Mr Smailes and Mrs Gourlay set off from Lincoln, arriving into Geneva later that afternoon after a short flight from Liverpool Airport. After we arrived and checked in at the hotel, we visited a local restaurant near the centre of the city and started to take in some of the beautiful sights of Geneva.

The next day, we left very early from the hotel to get the coach to Chamonix-Mont Blanc, over the French border, where we were going to spend the morning and afternoon.  We ascended to the Aiguille du Midi taking two cable cars, 3,842 metres above sea level, where we experienced amazing views and even snow in the middle of July, which was a surprise for everybody.

After exploring the terraces around the Aiguille du Midi, we descended back into the town of Chamonix, where we explored and had lunch. After lunch, we took the Brevent-Flègere cable car, and experienced more amazing views of the Alps. We travelled back to Geneva, where the snow at Mont Blanc had turned into rain and drizzle, meaning that we could not explore Geneva as much as we would have liked to.

On Wednesday, we took the tram to CERN, which is the largest particle physics laboratory in the world, and we visited the Microcosm exhibit, where we were able to learn more about CERN’s experiments that take place at the Large Hadron Collider, as well as in laboratories all over the site. We then visited the Globe of Science and Innovation, which houses the main CERN visitor centre, and exhibits there included the first Web server that Tim Berners-Lee used to develop the World Wide Web and a globe showing the worldwide focus of CERN and the collaborative research that scientists, including those from the UK, partake in.

However, the highlight of the day was a tour around CERN, as well as an interesting lecture from a German physics lecturer. During this tour, we were able to visit the CMS (Compact Muon Solenoid), one of the main detectors at the Large Hadron Collider, and we were able to look at the experiments being done that day through the control room. We also visited the underground datacentre and corridors of the CMS, and it was amazing to see how complex each part of the CMS is. After this, we took the tram back to Geneva Airport, where we flew back home late that evening.

Overall, the trip was an outstanding experience for all that went, and it was great to see the applications of our A-level Physics course and where many of the things we learn about were discovered.