Students get the CERN experience!

"This spring forty Swansea physics students, including myself, will be venturing into a place at the very forefront of modern science, I am of course referring to the world renowned CERN facilities in Geneva, where discoveries such as the Higgs Boson particle have been made and advanced the scientific world. The whole trip has been organised through the physics society with the assistance of members of staff either with contacts at CERN, such as Professor Charlton, or staff who will actually be there to assist with our tour of the site, namely Professor Madsen. 

The entire trip will take place over a long weekend and will give time to explore the beautiful city of Geneva before our tour of the facility. The tour, which will include a visit to the ALPHA experiment where Swansea staff and alumni work year round and have kindly offered their time to us despite their busy schedules, highlights the strong connection between the department here and CERN.

The most notable alumni assisting with the tour is Lyn Evans, the project manager of the large hadron collider, between him and Niels help this promises to go above and beyond the run of the mill site tour."

Professor Evans, one of Swansea University’s most distinguished alumni, graduated with a first class degree in Physics in 1966 and his PhD in 1970. Professor Evans was made an Honorary Fellow of Swansea University in 2002.

He went to CERN – the European Organisation for Nuclear Research –  initially as a research fellow, having previous visited the establishment in 1969, and from 1994 was involved in the planning of the project which would become the Large Hadron Collider (LCH). 

"The whole experience will give undergraduates from all levels of study an amazing opportunity to see physics at the very highest level and it is a privilege to play a part in what I hope can become a regular trip for years to come. "    

Update: "So after months of planning and hard work Swansea physics society is finally on the road, a marathon coach trip is ahead but with the final destination being a tour of the CERN facilities it's definitely worth it!"

Adam Powell, BSc Physics student and President of the Physics Society.

Adam - CERN blogAdam's CERN blog

Saturday 19th March

After the long coach trip many of the group felt a relaxing day finding their way around Geneva and taking in the beautiful scenery provided by both Lake Geneva and the vast mountains surrounding the city. Personally, I found a small coffee shop in a park about 20 yards from the lake side and took a well-earned moment to rest. Later in the day a large portion of the group met up in the hostel to find somewhere to watch the finale of the Six Nations, this ended in us almost filling a small pub for the night. 

Sunday 20th March

An early start to the day from most to make the most of this full day in Geneva with lots of the group making a trip to the top of Mount Saleve in cable cars to take in the extraordinary views over the region from this snow covered mountain. After a short journey back into the city a boat trip around Lake Geneva with a tour guide giving detailed accounts of all the important sights, although the most impressive thing was the vast number of houses fit for a king along the banks of the lake. Later in the evening it was decided that we should try the local past time of Fondue, and after finding a small restaurant on the pier that could accommodate 20 of us the not so student friendly prices soon led to a hasty exit and more familiar foods.

Monday 21st March 

The day we had all travelled so far for, CERN. After a very early start and a short tram ride we were met at the entrance to the facility by Dr Rhodri Jones, an accelerator physicist whom attended Swansea for his undergraduate degree through to his PHD and had been kind enough to organise a tour of the site for us. 

The itinerary started with an introductory talk from one of Swansea most distinguished alumni, Lyn Evans, who was the project manager for the LHC and gave a real in depth take on what it was like to head up one of the most famous physics experiments ever undertaken as well as some fond memories of his time at Swansea and the physics society.

This was followed by a tour of the AD, also known as the antimatter factory, from our very own professor Niels Madsen and two Swansea PHD students who are currently working with Niels on the ALPHA experiment, an antimatter experiment run by our physics department, it was amazing to see some of the work done by our staff and students up close.

A tour of LEIR site, a linear accelerator of positrons, by Richard Scrivens another accelerator physicist who gave an insight into how all parts of the facility feed into each other in order to reach the energy required for the LHC.  

After lunch in the very impressive CERN canteen we had a final tour around the main control centre for the whole site, this was made even more special by the fact that the LHC was starting up later that week so staff were busy starting up the smaller accelerators and making final preparations for a big week. Standing in the room where so many important discoveries have been controlled, made and celebrated was a true inspiration. 

A final question and answer session at the end of the day with a member of the CERN outreach team highlighted the many opportunities for physicists at CERN and how we could start thinking about a possible future there. This provided much food for thought for the long coach trip back to Swansea that night.