I visited the CERN (European Organization for Nuclear Research), in Geneva, some months ago (I already wrote some posts about two of its museums: Patek Philippe & Science). The CERN and the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) have been widely in the media lately due to the detection of the Higgs boson.
The visit was very interesting despite of the fact of not being able to descend into the under ground to see the tunnels that appear in the media so often. In fact, as we were informed by the researcher who guided our visit, all those images are from archives as at the moment radiation down there is high due to the experiments and no one can get down, everything is controlled from above the ground, being this monitoring room the closest you can get (including researchers from ATLAS, pictured in the photos).
As I said, tours and explanations were given by researchers contributing some of their time to science outreach: I found that fantastic, even if to some eyes the discourse might seem dull. To complement the visit some videos were displayed and I collected some brochures, that I have scanned and can now share in the blog (you see how timely the visit was!). If you are interested in the brochures, click on the links and you can retrieve them from Google docs:
Guided visits are free of charge but limited in number and group size, thus you need to make a reservation prior to going there. Needless to say that I strongly recommend the visit.
By the way, I’ve seen in many places people criticizing the Higgs boson nick as “God Particle”. The explanation is simple and funny and can be found here.
The book in which this nick first appeared, “The God Particle: If the Universe Is the Answer, What Is the Question?” is a tremendous piece of divulgative physics by the physicist Leon Lederman. I loved it because of the anecdotes he explains of his experiments, the humour he uses and the passion he transmits. I recommended this book once five years ago in Toastmasters, got it borrowed by a member and returned it after a week: “Javier, it’s not *that* easy, funny and entertaining” (obviously the person didn’t read more than 5% of it). Nevertheless, I continue to recommend it, especially if you know some teenager thinking about studying Physics.