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Upton-by-Chester High School

Physics Visit to CERN

As partnership schools of the Ogden Trust, Upton-by-Chester and West Kirby Girls Grammar took a large group of AS-Physics pupils to visit the world renowned CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research. It is one of the world's largest and most respected centres for scientific research. Its business is fundamental Physics - finding out what the Universe is made of and how it works.

The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is the world largest particle accelerator and is used to recreate the conditions straight after the Hot Big Bang a staggering 13.7 Billion years ago! The accelerator itself is a massive 27km in circumference and is built 100m underground on the Switzerland/France border. In the LHC, two beams of protons are accelerated to over 99.9% of the speed of light and then smashed into each other! There are four massive particle detectors placed around the accelerator that are used to detect the new and very short lived particles that are created in the collision. 

During our exclusive tour of CERN we got to see up close, and 100m underground, the famous Compact Muon Solenoid (CMS) detector. This is one of the detectors that back in 2012 found evidence for the most elusive fundamental particle, the famous Higg’s Boson. It is the Higgs Boson that is responsible for giving particles their mass and won Professor Higgs a Nobel Prize in 2013.

The students also gained an insight into what it is like to work in a multinational collaborative experiment of this magnitude.

Although it was only a flying visit, which included a one night stay in Geneva, it was; action packed, informative, extremely enjoyable and truly a trip of a lifetime!