The day will come when I will die. So the only matter of consequence before me is what I will do with my allotted time. I can remain on shore, paralyzed with fear, or I can raise my sails and dip and soar in the breeze.--Richard Bode

Thursday, August 6, 2015

The CERN Particle Collider

I rode my motorcycle to Geneva because I had a ticket to visit the famous CERN Particle Collider.  It was something I really wanted to see. As a science teacher, it was like going to Mecca. I was surprised when I found out that CERN is right under the Geneva airport, and that the city has grown up over the site. I guess that is okay since almost everything takes place in tunnels deep underground. From their website, I was expecting something that looked like a park. It wasn't that way at all. It was more industrial. Of course, the place has been doing experiments for many, many years. To start my visit, I parked in the special motorcycle parking area. My motorcycle was the only one there.

When they first started doing their research at CERN computers were new. A lot of their work was done with adding machines. Times have really changed. One of their many accomplishments was the development of the Internet. Now they have lots of computers there. The data they collect goes out over the internet to scientists all over the world.

The actual collisions take place in tunnels deep underground. It was quite the engineering feat putting all of this together.

When an experiment is going on, the particles they are colliding are accelerated to nearly the speed of light. At that speed, they become enormously massive. It is all controlled by huge magnets like this one.

The magnets are very precise. It is amazing how they were able to design and engineer all this.  A lot of the daily maintenance goes on in this huge room.

This was the guy who showed us around. He is an engineer and he is from Poland,.

There are thousands of engineers and scientists who work there. They do experiments 10 months out of the year, and they work in three shifts around the clock. A lot of the experiments are done for scientists who never actually come to the facility, but instead work "on-line" from their own country. Here is the control room.

I had a good day at CERN and I learned a lot. But today it was time to move on. I wanted to get down to Torino in Italy. I decided to go there through the Col de St. Bernard which is a mountain pass over St. Bernard between Switzerland and Italy. I do love those mountain passes through the Alps.

It was very hot today, so it felt really good to get up into the mountains.

Time for a self portrait. I think I look like I should be in a spaceship.

How about another picture; this time with the helmet off.

I love riding these twisty mountain roads. Unfortunately, once I got down the mountain into Italy, the temperature was very, very high.  I was certainly ready to get to Torino and find myself an air conditioned room and something cool and wet to drink.

I wanted to go to Torino to see the famous Shroud of Turin. I wasn't aware that they only let people see it every few years. This was a viewing year, but they quit showing in in June. Now it is August. All is not lost though; I had to come this way anyway because my real goal is to get to Milan, Italy, where this years World's Fair is going on. I will be there tomorrow. Now, it is time for a nice tall drink of water and a good night's sleep. Talk with you later.