Thursday, October 3, 2013
Scenes like a Star Trek movie greet Axe Valley Community College science students when they visit the world’s biggest particle accelerator
Sixth form science students from Axminster got to see the frontiers of science when they boldly went on a trip to Geneva.
Scenes like those in a Star Trek movie greeted The Axe Valley Community College party when they visited the world’s biggest particle accelerator - the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) - at CERN, the European centre for nuclear research.
But the first stop was 8km away from the main site, the control room for an experiment that was mounted on the international space station - The Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer.
One of the workers was in contact with NASA and the students watched some live feed from the space station of routine work going on.
Later at the LHC, currently closed down for planned upgrades, students and teachers were able to go underground to see one of the four massive detectors.
They heard how the LHC consists of a 27-kilometre ring of superconducting magnets with a number of accelerating structures to boost the energy of the particles along the way. The detector, situated on the ring that the staff and students visited, was designed to investigate a wide range of physics, including the search for the Higgs boson, extra dimensions, and particles that could make up dark matter.
After descending 100m the group was able to look at the huge solenoid magnet that generates a field that is about 100,000 times the magnetic field of the Earth.
“Walking into the chamber felt like walking on to the set of a Star Trek movie,” said one student.
Adele and Fiona Gage added: “We were in awe of the huge equipment required for investigating such small particles of matter. An opportunity not to be missed if you have a chance to go.”
Kieran Parker and Josh Ambrose said: “CERN gave us the opportunity to get an insight on the wider scientific community and some future possible career paths.”