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Students visit particle physics capital of Geneva

Two students from the School of Computing, Engineering and Physical Sciences organised a trip to the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) centre in Geneva for physics and astrophysics students.

First year students Christopher Rowley and Lauren Stephenson secured the four day trip to CERN - a European research organisation whose purpose is to operate the world's largest particle physics laboratory.

At CERN physicists and engineers are probing the fundamental structure of the universe. What is the universe made of? How did it start? Physicists at CERN are seeking answers, using some of the world's most powerful particle accelerators.


Arriving on the Saturday, the group of UCLan students spent the day exploring the area and having a look around in the local stores and tourist areas. On the Sunday the group explored further and visited the market in the old town, the Natural History Museum and the University Campus.

Whilst visiting the CERN campus they spoke with Dr Mick Storr, who lectured at Birmingham University and now runs CERN’s visitor programmes, about CERN and the Large Hadron Collider (LHC).

The group took a tour of the ATLAS detector which was used to confirm the existence of the Higgs Boson Particle and visited the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer control centre and the LHC control centre. The Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer control centre instrument was the last mission flown by the shuttle and detects incoming cosmic rays. Its grandest goal is the possible detection of large anti-matter nuclei implying the existence of starts, and hence galaxies made solely of anti-matter.

The final talks of the day were with Maria Smizanska and Professor Roger Jones of the Lancaster University particle physics group.

Feedback from the students who went on this trip has been excellent. Rachel Martin said: “The CERN trip was brilliant! As well as visiting the Collider and going behind the scenes at one of the world’s leading research facilities, we also got to explore the beautiful city of Geneva and see the sights. It was a great opportunity to be able to visit with the Physics society and hopefully the trip will carry on in future years.”