Accelerating Science

“Accelerating Science” is CERN’s flagship travelling exhibition. For those curious about the origins of our universe, the nature of the particles we are all made from, and the power of fundamental science. Experience the ‘Big Bang’, investigate the building blocks of life, grapple with the mysteries of the universe, explore the world’s largest scientific experiment, and discover how fundamental science has changed the world as we know it.  This Exhibition is most suitable for secondary school and university level students but there will be something interesting for all ages.  ref: http://www.eventelephant.com/galwayscience

We decided to make the trip yesterday and I can’t recommend it highly enough.  We got there just in time for the lecture  and were then taken on a tour of a number of interconnected pods which dealt with topics such as the Big Bang, matter, the Hadron Collider and uses of science.  To say that the exhibition was a revelation is the understatement of the century for me.  I’m going to show my age here but when I was learning about science back in the 80’s we were taught that the basic building blocks  for atoms were protons, neutrons and electrons.  Things have moved on dramatically since those days and now quarks, leptons and force carriers are regarded as the building blocks but then you probably knew that and I’m the only one for whom this fact has escaped them!

Of course now that I know about up and down quarks the proton joke in the ‘A Neutron walks into a Bar’ book makes a whole lot more sense 🙂

I have to say the tour was really enjoyable – the Hadron Collider is such a fascinating subject.  Like many others I had heard about it and watched the news coverage of the Higgs Boson but if truth be told I didn’t really give it much more thought.  Having it explained both during the lecture and the tour brought it to life in a way that a news clip can’t.  Hearing about the 27km circumference of the Collider and hearing about the different detectors and how they are working on different aspects of particle physics some of which overlaps and some of which doesn’t has certainly piqued my interest in this area.

ALICE (a large ion collider experiment) explores quark-gluon plasma by looking at collisions of lead ions.   LHCb (Large Hadron Collider beauty) studies matter and anti matter by investigating the bottom quark and its anti-particle.  ATLAS (a toroidal LHC aparatus) is the largest detector and investigates why particles have mass and what 96% of the universe is made of (only 4% of the universe consists of visible matter – very little is known about the remaining 96%).  CMS (compact muon solenoid) is the heaviest detector ever constructed and explores the same area as ATLAS but using different techniques.

I have to commend all involved in this amazing exhibition.  The quality of the exhibits and the enthusiasm of the people involved was second to none.  Having someone with a passion for a subject explain it to you brings the subject to life in a way that is hard to equal.

I’ll leave you with one or 2 final thoughts taken from the exhibition

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One response to “Accelerating Science

  1. Pingback: Ninth Level Ireland » Blog Archive » Accelerating Science

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