BAC3 students CERN trip
As it has been the case since more than 10 years, Ph.D. students in high energy particle physics from CP3 brought the future physicist generation at CERN in the context of their first lecture in particle physics. In March, students in their third year in physics had indeed a unique opportunity to visit CERN and the various experiments done there.
After a tour and an explanation on how particles are given energy through the different accelerators, they visited some fixed target experiments, COMPASS and NA62, where they could closely see and understood the different kind of detectors used in high energy experiments. This was a first occasion to show them how CP3 is present at CERN given that one of their guide was no one else than a Ph.D. student working himself on NA62. They also understood that CERN is not only the LHC and related experiments but also many other groups and experiments working on fundamental physics, as when they discovered the different antimatter-related experiments at the anti-proton decelerator.
Then they did their first way down to the underground detectors by visiting ALICE which magnet was luckily open. They got back blissful, still not believing how enormous it is, and it was just the beginning... Indeed, after, they saw ATLAS, the biggest detector, and a wonderful opened CMS: the most compact, and for sure beautiful, of the LHC detectors. In CMS, they had many CP3 members to ask questions to, starting with Christophe Delaere giving one of the visits. In between, they had the opportunity to closely understood the accelerating system by visiting the SM18 facility where superconducting magnets are tested, and have an overview of a fraction of the world GRID computing system at the CERN computing center.
This trip is not only important for them to see the LHC experiments but also to show them how this fundamental research field boosts research for new technologies : unique sensors, superconducting magnets, computing infrastructures, ... all developed to fulfill highly specific requirements and constraints. They could also understood that such a machine is an exceptional prowess, given the thousands of people, cables, sensors, computers and engineering fields involved.
As told by one of the students after the explanation on how the online data acquisition of CMS works:
“I used to think in lectures and exercises that a sign error doesn't matter... Here I see I was totally wrong, in such environment everything must be correct, anticipated, for the all system to work well.”
Let's hope they could feel how close they are to be part of one of the biggest, most ambitious and exiting experiment human had ever built.
Reference url: http://cp3.irmp.ucl.ac.be/upload/misc/news/CERNTrip.jpg