During half-term we were privileged to be able to tour the facilities at CERN.
CERN is described as the largest particle physics laboratory in the world.
We began our day at the Globe which is an interactive exhibition about the world of particles and origin of the universe.
After the Globe we spent a short time in Microcosm, which is an interactive gallery allowing students to investigate the history of our exploration of the atom.
We were privileged to be able to have our lunch in the CERN restaurant where all the staff, including the research physicists, eats. It was wonderful to be able to listen to them discuss their work.
We began our CERN tour with a video about what CERN is all about.
The next stop was to see ATLAS. ATLAS is one of two general-purpose detectors at the LHC. It investigates a wide range of physics, including the search for the Higgs boson, extra dimensions, and particles that could make up dark matter. ATLAS records sets of measurements on the particles created in collisions – their paths, energies, and their identities.
This is accomplished in ATLAS through six different detecting subsystems that identify particles and measure their momentum and energy.
Another vital element of ATLAS is the huge magnet system that bends the paths of charged particles for momentum measurement.
The interactions in the ATLAS detectors create an enormous dataflow. To digest these data, ATLAS needs a very advanced trigger and data acquisition system, and a large computing system.
More than 2900 scientists from 172 institutes in 37 countries work on the ATLAS experiment.
We were then taken to SM18, the magnet test centre, where all the superconducting magnets for the LHC were tested and measured before being installed underground. Magnets are used to keep the subatomic particles in the correct path before they are allowed to collide.