In January, A-Level Physics students flew to Geneva in Switzerland for a three-day visit to the European Centre for Nuclear Research (CERN). The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN is a 27 km-long particle accelerator situated underneath the French-Swiss border and it is here in 2012 that physicists made the widely-reported discovery of a fundamental particle known as the Higgs boson.
Against a stunning backdrop of the snow-capped Alps and the Jura mountains the JMHS students were given tours and presentations which helped them to understand aspects of the science that is carried out at CERN and the history of scientific exploration at the site. Students visited the ATLAS detector control room and also toured the SM-18 site, where engineers develop the enormously powerful superconducting magnets that are required to steer the particles around the LHC.
The science was particularly relevant to the Y13 students who have recently completed units of work based on particle physics and particle accelerators, and the exposure to this kind of science at the cutting-edge of modern physics is intended both to supplement and extend their recent learning and to provide inspiration for their future studies and career paths. Students enjoyed the trip enormously and were amazed by the scale of the endeavour at CERN.
Students also had the opportunity to visit Geneva itself to walk around the edge of Lake Geneva, to see the famous 100m-high fountain and to experience a busy day in the city before returning to Ledbury, tired but enthused and inspired by the trip. JMHS tries to run this visit every two years and it is open to those who choose to undertake our A-Level Physics course.