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University science students visit CERN

The delegation outside CERN’s antimatter factory (from left) Andreas Diacono, Anthea Tabone, May Hefney, Karl Bartolo, Justin Spiteri, Francesco Pavia, Edward Thake, Eleni Singh, Leah Vella, Luke Camenzuli and Christian Grech.

The delegation outside CERN’s antimatter factory (from left) Andreas Diacono, Anthea Tabone, May Hefney, Karl Bartolo, Justin Spiteri, Francesco Pavia, Edward Thake, Eleni Singh, Leah Vella, Luke Camenzuli and Christian Grech.

Physics and Chemistry students from the University of Malta’s Faculty of Science recently had the rare opportunity to visit CERN – the European Organisation for Nuclear Research. CERN, Europe’s largest particle physics laboratory located near Geneva on the Franco-Swiss border, employs over 2,500 technical, scientific and administrative staff.

Christian Grech, a PhD student at the University’s Department of Microelectronics and Nanoelectronics and a project associate at CERN, led the students on a guided tour of some of its facilities and experiments. These included the synchrocyclotron – the first accelerator built at CERN in 1952, and the ATLAS (A Toroidal LHC ApparatuS) and CMS (Compact muon Solenoid) detectors, which form part of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), the largest particle accelerator with a radius of 27 kilometres.

They also visited the antimatter factory, where the first antimatter counterpart of the simplest atom, hydrogen, was created in 1995, and the ELENA facility, which is currently working on an Antiproton Decelerator to obtain antiproton beams of high abundance and low energy in order to produce larger quantities of antimatter.

The students were accompanied by Dr Louis Zammit Mangion, a senior lecturer from the University’s Physics Department.

The visit to CERN was part of an educational visit organised by Elena Gauci from the inter-national office of the student organisation S-Cubed.

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