A once in a lifetime visit to CERN, led by Dr Clara Taylor, College Physics teacher

Last weekend and led by College Physics teacher Doctor Clara Taylor, a group of Lower Sixth Physics girl and boy students were able to visit the Large Hadron Collider at CERN (European Council for Nuclear Research), near Geneva, Switzerland. Two of the students who went have written the following accounts of their visit.

Teacher focus

Dr Clara Taylor 
Teacher at St George’s College, Weybridge

Dr Clara Taylor graduated in Natural Sciences at the Faculty of Sciences, University of Lisbon - in the city where she was born.

She worked in the biotechnology industry at Pernod-Ricard in France and went on to do a Masters at the Université Paris Diderot in Paris.

She completed her PhD at UCL in London and was a post-doctorate researcher at both UCL and Imperial College.    

Dr Taylor retrained as a teacher in 2008 and has been teaching St George’s College, Weybridge since then. She has taught Biology, Maths, RE and mostly Physics. She says:

“I find that I have a good professional-life balance, being the mother of twins here at the College and wife to a medical consultant neuroanaesthetist.”

A once in a lifetime opportunity

From the 27 to the 29 November, a group of Lower Sixth Physics students from St George’s College, Weybridge were given the amazing opportunity to go to Switzerland and visit the world famous Large Hadron Collider at CERN. We visited CERN on Friday and after an introductory lecture and look around the museum, we were lucky enough to visit the CMS (Compact Muon Solenoid) detector, one of the huge particle detectors that is used to analyse the collisions of the particles. This was truly a ‘once in a lifetime opportunity’, and something I will never forget.

After taking a bus journey to the other side of the 27km circumference collider, we arrived at the site of the CMS detector, and were given an introduction to the detector by scientists who work on it. It was fascinating to hear how the detector records the collisions of the particles, of which there are 40 million per second, and how the data is used to discover the existence of new particles, such as the famous Higgs Boson.

A lift then took us down 100m to the site of the CMS cavern, where we were taken aback by the sheer scale of the detector; it is truly gigantic, 15m high and 15m wide, weighing 12,500 tonnes. Astonishingly the magnet contained within the detector, (used to deflect the particles), produces a magnetic field of around 4 Tesla, which is 100,000 times stronger than that of the Earth.

It was an incredible opportunity to visit such a significant place in the world of physics, and I absolutely loved the entire experience. On behalf of everyone, I would like to thank Dr Taylor for organising this amazing trip, and also Mr Findlay-Palmer for accompanying us.

Ben McMillan

One of the best School trips

On the 27 November, the Physics Department took 18 Lower Sixth students from St George’s College, Weybridge, to Geneva to visit the world famous Large Hadron Collider. When we arrived on the first evening we went straight to the hostel and prepared for an early start the next day. After waking up at 6am, so we could have breakfast, we were straight onto a tram towards CERN. Slowly as the city melted away and was replaced by the scenic Swiss countryside we arrived at CERN.

When we arrived we went onto a tour of the CMS detector, which was open and we were able to see inside it, and the AMS detector which was linked to the International Space Station. Once we had eaten a delicious lunch in the canteen at CERN we went to visit the United Nations buildings at the Pâquis-Nations.

The huge park along the lakeside was originally donated by a wealthy family to the city of Geneva, who then leased the land to the League of Nations, who finally handed it over to the UN in the 1940s. The huge complex of buildings is home to several of the UN's humanitarian missions, such as the High Commission for Refugees. We were given a tour around Le Palais des Nations and were able to see the rooms where some of the treaties which affect all of us were signed, but they also are used for the Christmas party every year, which is much more important.

As we were leaving, our tour guide pointed out that there are always five peacocks in the park as it was one of the conditions on which the park be given to the city of Geneva. The other condition was that the park be used to help the people, and the United Nations does exactly that. On our third day we were able to do some shopping in the centre of Geneva before we left for home. Even though it was a very short trip, it was very fulfilling and one of the best schools trips.

Jakob Youngblood-Costa
3 December 2014

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