A tour of C.E.R.N., Switzerland.

I’m going to try and explain the C.E.R.N. tour to you guys but it’s a little difficult as 90% of what was said and shown went WAY over our heads. “Founded in 1954, the CERN laboratory sits astride the Franco-Swiss border near Geneva. It was one of Europe’s first joint ventures and now has 22 member states.” The process starts a minimum of 2 weeks before you even set foot on the grounds, all people interested in touring the facilities must apply online and be granted permission to visit. It’s 100% free of charge!

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C.E.R.N. (Conseil Européen pour la Recherche Nucléaire) is part of a huge University campus. The tour starts in the reception building where you sign in and are free to visit the small museum while you wait for your group to arrive. This dome shows a short film twice an hour.

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The collider is contained in a circular tunnel, with a circumference of 27 kilometres (17 mi), at a depth ranging from 50 to 175 metres (164 to 574 ft) underground.

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This is what their backup tape arrays look like, storing petabytes of experiment data.

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An old cross section of the pipe that encases the tubes holding the particle beams.

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Cool things?

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The “Matt” particle.

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The tours are given by staff member scientists (I’m assuming whoever pulled the shortest straw that day) and begin in a cold dark room holding a replica accelerator. Particle physicist Jean-Paul explains C.E.R.N.’s achievements timeline and answers any kind of questions you may have. Did you know the World Wide Web was born here?

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Next, a movie is played along with a cool light show dumbing down the whole process, making it easy for anyone to understand how particle tests are conducted.

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An actual section of the accelerator.

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Next, the tour continues in the office where data is analyzed. We watch another movie (3D) then get to peek into the Atlas control room, oddly enough we arrived on a day when experiments where not being held. Tests are usually conducted 30 hours at a time back to back.  

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Lego!

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That’s pretty much it for the tour. It’s not riveting but very fascinating, as I’ve mentioned before, most things said will probably go over your head. I was surprised how busy it was, there where several tours happening in many different languages, our group consisted of about 20 people from around the world. 

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