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CERN - the European Council for Nuclear Research

Listed under All Experiences in Switzerland.

  • Visitor Reception, CERN
  • Students wait for a tour of CERN
  • Graphic representaation of the collider in action
  • Analysing results in the control room
  • Older equipment is part of an audiovisual presentataion
  • Historic equipment is on display
Visitor Reception, CERN
Visitor Reception, CERN
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Snowy mountain tops encircle the buildings of Cern. Students wait in the sunshine for a tour. All peace and quiet in the sunshine.

Deep inside the mountains is a 27 km diameter tunnel where dramatic science is happening.  Inside the tunnel, hydrogen nuclei circulate in two vacuum tubes. Energy is pumped in to bring them near the speed of light, then more energy increases their mass as they can't go any faster. The two groups flow in opposite directions and then the opposing streams are allowed to collide with massive release of energy and of sub-atomic particles which are tracked by massive arrays of detectors and computers.

In the control room, scientists from all over the world study the output from the experiments looking better to understand the structures and forces underpinning the matter and energy making up the universe.

Visitors obviously don't get to go underground during experimental periods, but a visit to the Cern site is free and there are displays and explanations.  You can book a two tour in English or French which is led by a Cern scientist who will explain the science and answer questions.  This is free too but demand exceeds supply and you need to book online exactly 15 days ahead of your visit, booking early in the morning.  Website

CERN is easy to get to from Geneva, about a 20 minute drive from the airport with free parking.  Bus services in Geneva are good and several run from the city to CERN.

Written by  Jenny Fowler.

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