In the last days of the Summer Term, 19 Lower Sixth students took the opportunity to fly out to Geneva for three days of sightseeing, cultural exchange and cutting edge particle physics.
Accompanied by Dr Preston and Mrs Porter, the group landed at Geneva airport on the morning of Sunday 25 June. We started the trip with a boat cruise on Lac Léman, under the famous water spout and out along the sun-soaked Chateau. After this delightful introduction to Swiss hospitality, some of us chose to visit the History of Science Museum, located in one of the city’s many green areas and housing an extraordinarily varied collection of ancient scientific apparatus. Later that evening we took a short walk into town for a traditional fondue supper at Restaurant Auberge de Savièse, where nearly everyone satisfied their melted cheese cravings.
The following morning we visited CERN, which lies to the north west of Geneva towards the Jura Mountains. The variety of facilities makes it hard to see everything in one day but, after an introductory lecture from the delightful Dr Vince Smith MBE, we were shown a few significant components of the LHC, the largest machine ever built. Particularly impressive was a 15m magnetic deflection tube being tested for superconductivity; there are 1232 of them in the underground circular tunnel and each one bends the beam of speeding particles by less than 0.3! We also saw the now retired Cyncrocyclotron in its heavily shielded concrete building, and visited both the CERN Globe and the extensive Visitors Centre with its garden of weird and wonderful experimental equipment.
During the trip we also had the opportunity to visit the Red Cross Museum. This was the real surprise of the trip: a truly thought-provoking museum about the enormous historical and social impact of the Red Cross and Red Crescent since their inception in 1863. By the end of the self-guided tour, we all felt quite moved
It was a wonderful, insightful trip and we returned to the College ready to commit to the last day of Lower Sixth study.