Pupils Hunt for the Higgs Boson at CERN
Lower and Upper Sixth pupils from St John’s School have been inspired by a visit to CERN, home of the Large Hadron Collider.
During the visit from 8 to 10 February, the pupils discovered how CERN is helping to answer some of the most fundamental questions: How did the universe begin? What are the basic building blocks of matter?
Scientific breakthroughs, such as the discovery of the Higgs boson, require experimental machines on the large scale, and the pupils gained an appreciation of the technical and engineering challenges that the multinational experimental collaborations at CERN face.
During the visit, pupils had the chance to go into some of the key facilities, including into the belly of the ‘Anti-matter Factory’, they observed the functioning of CERN’s world leading computer systems and saw the nerve centre of the ATLAS experiment. The highlight of the trip for many was the opportunity to meet academics from Royal Holloway, KCL and Oklahoma University to discuss their work and careers. That and seeing Mr Rogers and Dr Bastin try to play an Alpine Horn in a Geneva restaurant!
The UK has been a member of CERN since the organisation was founded in 1954. Membership allows British researchers to take a wide variety of roles that contribute to CERN’s ongoing success: from recently qualified technicians and university undergraduates gaining their first taste of working in an international environment, to PhD students analysing experimental data and experienced engineers and physicists leading projects or representing their experimental collaborations. The St John’s pupils’ visit was led by Miss Ferguson, Mr Davies, Mr Rogers and Dr Bastin, along with members of the CERN community who talked from personal experience about their contribution to CERN’s research programme.