Last weekend, a group of Trinity Sixth Form Physicists departed for Geneva in Switzerland for a two-day whistle-stop tour of some of the top scientific sites.  

First up was a trip to CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, which is one of the world’s largest and most respected centres for scientific research. Here students visited a vast data processing centre and the incredible Antimatter Factory where atoms of anti-hydrogen are made and analysed. The starting point is the Antiproton Decelerator, which slows down antiprotons so that physicists can investigate their properties.  

Next, the group visited the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO), an agency of the United Nations. Here students learnt about the work of the WMO and some of the initiatives currently being supported which are looking at the impact of climate change.  

The first day finished with a wander around the streets of Old Town Geneva and a pizza! 

Day 2 began with a visit to the Geneva Observatory where students heard from two professional astronomers about their quest to find exoplanets around distant stars. This was followed by a tour of their incredible facilities. Although not located on-site, the Geneva Observatory operates the 1.2-metre Leonhard Euler Telescope and TRAPPIST, a 0.6-metre telescope, both located in northern Chile. 

The trip ended on a high; a visit to CROCUS – the only fission reactor in Switzerland which is located at the EPFL, one of the most prestigious research universities specialising in natural sciences and engineering. After a masterclass in nuclear power, students were invited to descend into the heart of the reactor – passing through a 1.5m concrete containment vessel on the way. Being able to see first-hand a fission reactor replete with Uranium fuel rods (not operational of course) was awe-inspiring and a memory of a lifetime, particularly for Mr Flanagan who headed up the trip. 

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