Saturday, June 3, 2017

Cern and Zermatt

Today we woke up in beautiful Geneva, and headed to the CERN headquarters outside of the city.

Today we woke up in beautiful Geneva, and headed to the CERN headquarters outside of the city. For those unfamiliar with CERN, it is the European Organization for Nuclear Research. It has been involved in a lot of high level physics experiments and studies, from research for the Standard Model (including the Higgs boson!) to searching for extra dimensions and particles that might make up dark matter. After an exciting presentation by retired CERN engineer Mark Tyrell, we hopped on the bus once more and drove across the French-Swiss border to the CMS (the Compact Muon Solenoid) -- a general-purpose detector at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC).

We then got a tour of the facility! We learned that the CMS experiment is one of the largest international scientific collaborations in history, involving around 4,000 particle physicists, engineers, technicians, students and support staff from over 42 countries. In addition, the 14,000 ton CMS detector is different from the other three LHC detectors as it was built in several pieces and lifted down a deep shaft -- and then assembled once down 175 meters (575 ft) below ground level. After the extremely informative tour of the LHD detector, we took the coach bus back into Switzerland and on to Zermatt for the evening. The town lies at the upper end of Matter Valley at an elevation of 1,620 m (5,310 ft), at the foot of Switzerland's highest peaks -- including the Matterhorn.

After a beautiful (and DELICIOUS) fondue dinner, we went exploring around the bases of the mountains surrounding Zermatt to finish up our night.


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