Physics students have ‘smashing’ time in Geneva

Some of Steyning Grammar School's finest physicists behind one of the large magnets outside the CERN canteen
Some of Steyning Grammar School's finest physicists behind one of the large magnets outside the CERN canteen

TOP physicists from Steyning Grammar School had the chance to see the Large Hadron Collider during a trip to Geneva.

The group of 19 students enjoyed an enlightening experience, spending three days in Geneva to visit CERN, the European organisation for nuclear research, as well as the Red Cross and the UN headquarters.

Mrs Jennifer MacGregor, the school’s learning leader of physics, said: “We were privileged to have had Dr Tina Potter from the University of Sussex give a pre-trip brief explaining CERN and her work there.

“We were also lucky that the Large Hadron Collider has currently powered down for its upgrade.

“This meant students had the chance to see source of the Large Hadron Collider and where the particles start their journey, which eventually sees them accelerated up to 99.9999 per cent the speed of light in the 27km circumference ring.

“They are then smashed together to see what comes out (yes, the world’s largest physics experiment is essentially smashing stuff to see what it’s made of).”

At CERN, physicists and engineers are probing the fundamental structure of the universe.

They use the world’s largest and most complex scientific instruments to study the basic constituents of matter.

Particles are made to collide together at close to the speed of light, a process which gives the physicists clues about how the particles interact, and provides insights into the fundamental laws of nature.

Sixth form student Thomas Edwards said they equally enjoyed their visits to the Red Cross museum and the UN offices.

“The Red Cross museum was a brilliant amalgamation of art installation and information, presenting the great work done by the Red Cross, Crescent and Diamond,” he said.

The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Museum re-opened in May after being closed for 22 months for transformation.

The museum reopening coincided with the 150th anniversary of the start of the Red Cross.

Visiting the UN was also an inspiring experience, Thomas added, where students saw many of the conference rooms and the gifts given to the UN from its constituent members.

The students were taught the finer details of the UN’s global power and got the chance to experience the stunning architecture of the centre, which overlooks Lake Geneva.

Thomas said: “The short trip was an exciting experience, which left students with a fresh enthusiasm for physics.

“The staff at CERN were very welcoming, and would even engage in conversation at times.”

Unfortunately, Brian Cox, the particle physicist physicist and TV presenter was nowhere to be seen, he added.