Colliding with history
While 17 Withington A-level students from Lower and Upper Sixth were visiting CERN – the European Organisation for Nuclear Research – the biggest scientific experiment of all time was being conducted beneath their feet.
The Swiss-based facility is home to the ‘Big Bang Machine' – the Large Hadron Collider, the world's largest and highest energy particle accelerator – with which scientists are attempting to recreate the conditions immediately following the Big Bang and discover the origins of the universe.
The party, accompanied by Withington's former Head of Physics Dr Francesca Wheeler, Physics teacher Mrs Lisa Bradshaw and the School's IT Network Manager Mr Andy Lockett, flew to Geneva for the weekend visit during which they spent a full day at CERN, touring the sites and exhibitions and observing simulations of the pioneering work. The party also met up with Sky French, a former Withington pupil who is carrying out research at CERN as part of her PhD studies at the University of Cambridge.
They also viewed the computer used as the first web server by British computer scientist Sir Tim Berners Lee who invented the World Wide Web at CERN in 1990 – a particular thrill for Mr Lockett.