14th March 2019

The research taking part at CERN truly does matter (we hope you see what we did there…) and as it’s British Science Week we thought why not celebrate this amazing facility and the fantastic research, discoveries and milestone breakthroughs they have given us!

CERN is one of Adaptable Travel’s most popular school science trips, and for good reason too! It is a truly unique and inspiring experience for students and world famous as home to the Large Hadron Collider. Entering another “Long Shutdown” period now is the perfect opportunity for students to experience ever more at CERN, read on to find out what “LS2” means for your students.

What is CERN?

We’re sure any avid physicist is familiar with their work, as CERN has been a pioneering name in physics since its foundation in 1954 after the Second World War lead to its conception in 1949. It was developed in order to improve the standard of European science with progression in this field significantly halted during the 6-year period of fighting. Due to this history, CERN has always associated itself with “science for peace” uniting its member states in scientific breakthroughs contributed too and benefitted from by all. Since then CERN has been the catalyst for the last 65 years of progression, understanding the complex physics of our universe, what it is made of and how this colourful tapestry comes together.

Thanks to CERN

In the 65 years CERN has been active they’ve significantly altered our perceptions of the physics of our world and universe. It has allowed physicists of its member states to continue their important work utilising the opportunities and tools at CERN. This refreshing take on scientific collaboration has meant that countries have had the advantage of both keeping their leading minds as well as benefitting from the resources and equipment presented by the organisation. CERN’s unwavering dedication to “science for peace” has made it a successful and pioneering cross border laboratory, the first of its kind in fact! The purely scientific nature at the heart of its conception has attracted scientists from all over the globe, despite any political differences or frictions. The transparency of the research at CERN means that all member states can benefit from the information and results of all experimental and theoretical endeavours, allowing for united progression and global discovery.

It might seem that many students are not familiar with the work carried out at CERN, but we owe a lot of what we currently understand about physics and even how we lead our daily lives to the ground-breaking minds at CERN.

The Large Hadron Collider (LHC)

Cue R.E.M “It’s the end of the World as we know it” as prior to its startup in 2008 the LHC caused quite a stir. In the news and media, there was a widespread belief that it would create a black hole which would inevitably gobble the Earth up and end humanity. However, over a decade after it was switched on, we are still here, still spinning with everything hunky-dory (for the most part!). Since 2008, with the exception of “Long Shutdown” periods, the LHC has been sending beacons of protons hurling around its impressive 27-kilometre ring of magnets, passing through numerous “accelerating structures” to give them a little boost along the way. This has allowed physicists at CERN to essentially recreate the aftermath of the Big Bang and dramatically enhance our comprehension of the scientific origins of our universe and how it all works. Students can get to grips with all this, where the action really happens at trips to CERN, amazing!

The Birth Place of the World Wide Web

It’s difficult for students to comprehend a world without the internet, given the vast majority are digital natives. Living in a constant state of being “switched on”, students have a CERN certified discovery at their fingertips without even realising it! Every “Wikipedia” reference they use (we all know they’re using it despite our advice!) is a marvellous example of the fruits of CERN’s labour. 2019 marks the 30th anniversary of the World Wide Web and where would we be without it? It has shaped the landscape of information sharing, communication, technological progression and learning, to undoubtedly become a staple of modern life. Sir Tim Berners-Lee pitched this seemingly “outlandish” concept while a fellow at CERN in 1989 and this went on to be the very first proposal of what is now a fundamental element of modern life. Why not take your students to pay homage to the home of “WWW”!


Higgs Boson Particle

Deemed the “God” particle the Higgs Boson Particle has been theorised for some 50 years but prior to progress at CERN, there were no opportunities, resources or technology suitable for implementing this elusive theory. That all changed in July 2012 when experiments in CERN’s Large Hadron Collider presented scientists with a bright new discovery, which they predicted to be the Higgs Boson. The ATLAS and CMS experiments were responsible for this astonishing discovery and although it will take further work to irrefutably confirm that the new particle observed was the Higgs Boson, its incredible to think work at CERN is facilitating the practical investigations to decades of theory.


In 1928 British Physicist Paul Dirac theorised that for every particle there is also an existent “anti-particle”, identical in formation simply holding a positive charge. This revelation birthed the idea that due to its existence, entire universes could be formed solely of antimatter. It was several decades later that practical experimentation was possible, with progression made at CERN. The large issue with investigations into antimatter was that antimatter and matter cannot come into contact without annihilating, meaning that both subjects are destroyed and cannot be studied. However, at CERN physicists are able to sustain and trap antiatoms for as long as 16 minutes, giving them opportunities to study them.  Another amazing feat of progression thanks to CERN!



Long Shutdown 2 (LS2)

In December 2018 the accelerators at CERN were switched off, preparing for its second, Long Shutdown period. This is a chance for the hard-working LHC to receive maintenance and TLC from engineers, ultimately improving its capabilities, thus improving the results of future experiments. Unfortunately for physics superfans, this means everything is shut down and no experiments are held for at least 2 years. However, for schools and students, this is great news! LS2 opens up the door of opportunity for students as it allows them to see much more of the facilities, due to the fact there are no live experiments. Spanning 2 years LS2 gives you ample opportunity to book your school CERN trip to coincide with this period, although as a popular tour we would recommend booking as far in advance as possible.

CERN is just the feather in our science trips cap! Offering lots more exciting and engaging science trips, whether students want to explore the cosmos, understand human anatomy or come face to face with Mother Nature on our fantastic geography trips, we have you covered! If you would like to find out more about our CERN trips or any other science trips please get in touch today, we’ll do the rest!

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