During the ‘long shutdown‘ CERN opened many of its site to be visited upon by thousands of visitors over a two day weekend on 14 and 15 of September 2019. I was one of those visitors, after having found out about the whole event in June on the morning that registrations opened.
ALICE (A Large Ion Collider Experiment) is a heavy-ion detector on the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) ring. It is designed to study the physics of strongly interacting matter at extreme energy densities, where a phase of matter called quark-gluon plasma forms.
The ALICE Experiment seek to answer some fundamental questions, such as:
- What happens to matter when it is heated to 100,000 times the temperature at the centre of the Sun?
- Why do protons and neutrons weigh 100 times more than the quarks they are made of?
- Can the quarks inside the protons and neutrons be freed?
Waiting for the tour was a process in itself – at least three hours spent standing in 25 to 27C sunny weather somewhere in a French village alongside many other people!
Visiting the Prévessin Site
Unfortunately, I was really tired after ALICE and briefly spent time at the CERN Prévessin site which is named after a nearby French village. I went to an exhibition tent set up which also covered the specifics of LHC. The amount of specifics covered – from the absolute minute right through to the 27 or so kilometre site was amazing.