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A visit to CERN, Geneva, Switzerland

On an “On Invitation Certified Program”, a group of 15 students from NPS Koramangala visited CERN, for a week long workshop in Physics. The program is the brain child of Prof Dr Mick Storr and Dr Archana Sharma to inspire the next generation scientists.

The most complex engineering to study the most fundamental physics, the biggest machines to collide the smallest particles – the juxtaposition is just startling! Students were in the maze of their own imagination while they met new people, explored new places and thought like scientists throughout their memorable trip to CERN.

The momentous discovery of particle physics started with an introduction by the Dr Mick Storr and an esteemed Hungarian scientist, Dr Gabor Veres. A visit to the SYNCHOCYCLOTRON facility, helped the students understand it’s working. The senior Advisor for Medical Applications at CERN, Dr Manjit Dosanjh gave an insight on “How Particle Physics can be used in the treatment of Cancer”. The British Theoretical Physicist, Prof Dr John Ellis, gave a cognizance on “Dark Matter, Super symmetry, gravity and black holes”. Prof Dr Albert de Roeck from Begium, an expert in “Accelerator Physics”, gave a detailed insight on Dark matter, Super symmetry, Extra Space Dimensions, Micro dark holes etc. A visit to the SM 18, a cryogenic test facility, to test superconducting magnets between 0.1 to 0.8 of the LHC, gave an opportunity to watch the wonders of modern engineering. No doubt there are more engineers at CERN than scientists. A hands on activity on the making of the prototype of the first “Particle Detector”, was exhilarating. A visit to the eye-catching structure called the 'Globe' and the twirling sculpture in the garden packed with formulas did not fail to swirl the minds.

The lecture by Dr Simone Gilardoni, an Italian scientist at CERN, open a new world of “Proton Physics”. The interaction with Dr Archana Sharma, principal scientist at CERN and a member of the experiment that confirmed the “God Particle” was an eye opener to each student, on how to take their interest as their career. Simple anecdotes and the analogy of the “Law of Compounding” were divulgence to some wrong assumptions. The Polish Scientist Dr Piotk Traczyk, took the students to a different level through his 2 hour 40 minutes lecture on”The Compact Muon Solenoid Detector” (CMS). Also a rock star and guitarist, Piotk, proved to the students that passion and research can go hand in hand.

A visit to “The CMS, built around a super conducting solenoid, optimized to detect “Muons”, was the highlight of the visit. Situating 80 m under the earth with a diameter of 6m, has the strongest magnetic field compared to the other detectors ATLAS and ALICE, also parts of LHC, the world’s largest and the most powerful particle collider. Students were flabbergast with the mind-bending facts associated with it. The CERN visit culminated with the famous Treasure Hunt by Mr. Mick Storr. This turned into a memorable exploration of Genève (and also a history lesson). Ticking clocks and strangers on the streets guided them to the end of the day.

The last day before the return, students visited ChaMonix, France and the LA MER de GLACE, a valley glacier on the Mont Blanc. They braved the intense cold to treck on the Alps. Students went to CERN as ambassadors of India but they return as ambassadors of CERN, to talk about their experiences and to spread the magic of science. This will surely take them a long way.

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