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.