Imagine taking your class on a school trip to Cern. It’s home to some of the world’s largest and most comprehensive scientific equipment, and the place in which the very basic particles of matter are studied in an effort to gain a deeper understanding of the universe and the laws of nature that govern it. Whether your students are budding scientists or not, a school trip to Cern will inspire, intrigue and fascinate youngsters. |
Built in 1954, the laboratory is located close to Geneva, on the France-Swiss border. Today it has 23 member states, all with a vested interest in the work it carries out.
Here we highlight five interesting facts you may not know about the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) that cost 10 billion Swiss francs and is the most famous of all of the scientific instruments in the Cern laboratory.
Five Fascinating Facts About the LHC
1. It is almost ironic that this machine is the largest and most complicated in the world and yet it was designed and built to study the smallest of all known things - particles. Situated 100m underground and taking up 17 miles of space as it spans the French-Swiss border, the machine is nothing short of colossal.
2. When it’s working at full power it produces some incredible statistics. Trillions of protons travel around the LHC accelerator ring at 11,245 times every second. This is mind blowing, as is the fact that this speed equates to 99.99 % the speed of light. Every second it creates somewhere in the region of 600 million collisions.
3. The temperature that results from two beams of protons colliding is more than 100,000 times hotter than the temperature at the heart of the sun. Imagining this temperature so concentrated in a tiny space truly makes the mind boggle. Thankfully there is a cooling system in place to keep the machine at -271.3 degrees Celsius. It does this by circulating superfluid helium around the LHC’s accelerator.
4. Collecting data when things are moving so quickly is a tricky process, but the physicists that work at Cern have designed instruments to measure the passage time of a particle to several billionths of a second. The location of particles can also be discerned to millionths of a metre, another incredible fact youngsters will love.
5. It’s amazing to think that the data recorded by the LHC’s big experiments every year requires tens of thousands of computers to store it. These computers are located all around the world and are known as “The Grid”.
To really appreciate such a phenomenal feat of scientific progress, you really need to see this incredible instrument in the flesh. If you’re a teacher looking to take your students on a school trip to Cern, the best idea is to go through a specialist operator, to take care of all the finer details. Companies well versed in organising this kind of trip can take the strain out of the logistics, leaving you free to get your pupils excited about the incredible opportunity they are about to embark on.
John Gardiner is the Managing Director of The School Travel Company, a tour operator specialising in educational trips in destinations all over the world. Whether you’d like to organise a school trip to Cern, exciting tours around North America or day trips in the UK, this company will work with you to design bespoke outings to suit the needs of your students.
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