SEK-Les Alpes is located 70 kilometres away from the most important scientific research centre in Europe, CERN (the European Organization for Nuclear Research) located in the Swiss city of Geneva. Due to the proximity of the school, every year we make a visit to see its facilities and to broaden our students’ scientific knowledge. Despite this year’s unusual situation, we did not want that our students missed out on this unforgettable experience, therefore, we organised a virtual visit.
Ignacio Avilés Santillana, an alumni from SEK institution and a current researcher at CERN, was our guide on the occasion. Ignacio explained that CERN is the European laboratory for Particle Physics. There, they study matter, its structure and the nucleus of atoms but not, as the organisation name might wrongly suggest, the study of nuclear energy.
CERN’s goal is fundamental research, which is the research for better understanding of our universe by answering questions like what antimatter or dark matter are. This institution has the world’s most important particle accelerator: the Large Hadron Collider (LHC). Its complex functioning helps scientists to better understand the conditions in which the world was created or discover new particles, such as the Higgs Boson.
Inside the LHC, we can find four particle detectors whose spectacular designs represent for the speaker “the Sistine Chapel of science”.
After that first contact, SEK les Alpes students are going to continue exploring the concepts discovered in this incredible virtual trip. Thank you very much Ignacio for your time and dedication, we all learned a lot and we hope that some of our students have become more intrigued in this fascinating world of particle physics.