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Quark-Gluon Plasmas and Swiss Fondue

In February a group of Sixth Form Physics students embarked on a much anticipated trip to CERN in Switzerland.

After settling in to our Geneva base we departed on the tram to CERN where we were first given an informative talk on its history, how it works and CERN’s future goals before being taken to the magnet repair workshop. We saw some of the giant cylindrical superconducting magnets used to keep the charged particles moving around their 27km long circular path. Following this we were given a presentation on the first cyclic accelerator, The Synchro- Cyclotron.

After lunch we were taken to the ALICE detector where we were given a talk by two University PhD students on their work improving the triggering system for particle collision events and the role of ALICE in looking back towards the Big Bang. This included learning about the complex world of quark-gluon plasmas which were present in the early Universe.

We then had a tour into the cavern of the detector chamber where we stood on top of the beam line and were shown the specifics of the detector. The day concluded with a tour of the NA62 detector where we were also taken underground. This experiment is not on the main beam line but instead uses an offshoot of the main accelerator to measure rare particle decays that we had studied in the Physics AS course.

There was just enough time left for an evening of Swiss Fondue to the sounds of a traditional oompah band before returning home the next day.


Isaac Hutt – U6GSS