An opportunity we couldn’t miss
Even though I am recovering from a broken ankle we couldn’t miss out on one of the very last chances to see the LHC in situ before it is finally closed to the public. The upgrading work on the LHC is close to being finished. CERN are planning to restart the experimentation in 2015. As this open day was primarily advertised for CERN’s neighbours we felt very honoured to be part of this small group. Not only was the weather glorious compared to the torrential rain of the last open day I attended on 29th September 2013 this felt more like a private invite. As the title says we were all neighbours although we span the entire area that is CERN including both France and Switzerland. It was also even more special as CERN celebrates its 60th anniversary this year.
The Romans put a halt to the construction of CERN-LHC P5 CMS
Today as neighbours of CERN-LHC P5 CMS we walk our dog Beau twice a day around the landscaped park above the LHC and can only marvel at what 12,000 physicists connected with CERN do every day. We are just a mere speck in the history that has taken place here. When CERN were constructing the site at Cessy the CMS engineers had to stop work for a while when they unearthed a Roman villa. They found coins that had been minted in Ostia, Lyon and as far away as London between 309 and 315 AD amongst other archaeological objects.
A Work of Art 100m underground
We patiently queued up to wait our turn to descend 100m for the underground visit and to see probably for our last time the LHC. Although it is made up of metal it is in fact quite beautiful and spectacular. It is also amazing to see all the component parts and see where the particles pass through the core. It is easy to understand how this amazing collaboration has inspired artists of all domains and all age groups since its inception.
Is living so close to the LHC safe?
People often ask us are we not afraid living so close to the experiment with particles whizzing around underneath Cessy. The particles are so tiny that to capture the data when they do collide the scientists worked out that 100m underground was the best distance as then the particles are not affected by cosmic rays. We are in more danger from UV rays around us! All the workers at CERN wear radiation detectors to protect them and even if there was a radiation leak they have robots that they send in to check the equipment first before any humans are sent to work on the equipment. Watch this video “What is CERN in 3 minutes” for a synopsis that will make you want to learn more and entice you to come and visit the site for yourself.
Something for all the family
There was something to see and do for all the family. One didn’t need to be a super scientist to understand and marvel at what man can and is doing. There were exhibitions with interactive models of the LHC, lectures and demonstrations. There was a Lego competition for all ages from 3 to adult. You could try out operating the robots. For the hungry there was a cafe to take a break and recharge their batteries.
One of the tents housed KAPLA where children and adults could try their hand at designing and making any object of their choice from dinosaurs to the Empire State building to the LHC. KAPLA is an interesting concept founded by Tom Van der Bruggen in 1987 and much more than the game Tumbling Tower. In the 70’s Tom bought an old farm in the Aveyron that he wanted to convert into his dream castle. Inspired by the wooden beams in his house he set out his ideas by building a scale model of his dream castle and finding wooden blocks insufficient to illustrate the different aspects he invented planks of different thicknesses in the ratio of 1:3:15. Today, KAPLA is a highly regarded excellent sustainable educational tool that develops spatial awareness, social awareness when working as part of a team, creativity, concentration, patience and perseverance whilst playing. KAPLA is made out of 100% untreated pine wood from the Les Landes region in south west France. The National French Education system saw its fantastic educational value and took it on board in 1988 long before commercial toy companies saw its value. The first KAPLA Centre in Paris was opened in the 5th arrondisement in Paris, they moved to their location in Montreuil in 1990 where you will still find them today. Tom has since set up TomTecT which includes plastic clips which join the wooden parts together making them more stable and flexible.
Thank you to CERN staff and volunteers
The people who work at CERN all volunteered their services and gave up their weekend to show people around. They all clearly love their work and being part of CERN. We would like to thank them here for taking the time to share their work with us and for volunteering their time. We can thoroughly recommend a visit if you get the chance.
And as a final thing!!
Would it be………… ? Click the photo!