Year 13 students visited the CERN in early December 2018 – and were left ‘wondering the immeasurable’.
The CERN and the chair
I have been running in the dark and the chair almost just appears in front of me. I am captured by its size and struck by the loudness of its message. I walk around it; it has a broken leg. I observe it, the chair is tall but broken, strong but broken, proud but broken.
Across it, sits the remarkable building of the Palais des Nations; it is impossible not to feel a shiver when admiring the togetherness of the flags; 193 tall, strong and proud spikes crowned with colourful fabrics. The neoclassical palace was built for the peaceful collaboration between nations and yet, the chair is the symbol of the dichotomy of the meaning of collaboration.
No ambiguities the day before when I had the joy of accompanying Year 13 students on their annual trip to the CERN. Built in 1954 to prevent the exodus of European scientists to America, it bears an acronym which has now become obsolete, the nucleus of the atom has been conquered for a while; now in the CERN, they make dark matter!
The students mingle to perfection with scientists and visitors. They explore, they listen they ask and they wonder.
The CERN is the largest laboratory in the world but above all, it is there where the words peaceful collaboration acquires its true meaning. The data from the experiments carried out at 100 m underground in the border between France and Switzerland is sent to over 600 universities and institutes around the world; this is the birth place of the www forged, precisely for the purpose of sharing and working together.
The by-products of research carried out by thousands of scientists results in formidable technological advances. From medical technologies that saves lives (PET scam), to new ways of communication, meteorological progress, aerospace applications to name some.
I watch the forever young year 13s as they look at the symbols written on the ‘wondering the immeasurable’ ribbons. They cheer every time they spot a formula they recognize from their physics lessons and then I am sure; one day with the advances from the Cern, all the year 13’s of the Kingsburies of the world working together will fix the chair.
Text and photos by Maria Gonzales – Physics Teacher