A group of motivated BSL students took a trip to Geneva to visit CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research. Here we learned about the history and beginnings of this incredible organization.
When the Second World War came to an end, European science was no longer world-class and so a handful of visionary scientists imagined creating a European atomic physics laboratory which would unite European scientists and allow them to share the increasing costs of nuclear physics facilities.
At an intergovernmental meeting of UNESCO in Paris in December 1951, the first resolution concerning the establishment of a European Council for Nuclear Research was adopted. Two months later, 11 countries signed an agreement establishing the provisional council – the acronym CERN was born.
Panos told the fascinated students about his organization and he explained how physicists and engineers are probing the fundamental structure of the universe. CERN uses the world’s largest and most complex scientific instruments to study the basic constituents of matter – the fundamental particles. According to CERN’s website, the particles are made to collide together at close to the speed of light. The process gives the physicists clues about how the particles interact, and provides insights into the fundamental laws of nature.
Different experiments are being carried out in CERN and we left the main building and travelled to St Gennis, France, to visit ALICE (or the ALICE experiment) – one of the four main LHC experiments that is optimized to study the physics of strongly interacting matter at extreme energy densities. Here we donned hard hats and descended 60 meters underground to see an incredible machine which is designed to answer fundamental questions about the formation of matter in our Universe. By colliding heavy-ions at the LHC, scientists recreate similar conditions to those believed to exist a fraction of the second after the Big Bang. And results confirmed the existence of a new phase of primordial matter, the quark-gluon plasma . A once in a lifetime experience.
One last fact about CERN- did you know that the World Wide Web, which has revolutionized communications worldwide, was invented here in 1989 by British scientist Tim Berners-Lee?!
CERN – a very interesting place! Great visit……our thanks, Panos.
Mary Mayenfisch-Tobin, BCL, LL.M, Solicitor