Kern gnome at CERN, Part 1.

Find out why CERN is such a special place for me here.

Here I am stood outside the elegant wooden dome entrance. I couldn’t wait get inside, explore and meet as many scientists as possible.

I had a thorough investigation of the piping which contains the accelerating proton beams for the Large Hadron Collider (LHC). I even got to go inside the pipe, which is much the same dimensions as the entrance tunnel to my house back in Balingen, Germany.

Then straight on to the Control Room for the LHC. To think that a press of one of these buttons could eventually lead to the detection of the Higgs boson! The scientists were hard at work, but didn’t mind answering my gnomish enquiries, and were also keen to find out about my much smaller experiment (find out about my latest reading tomorrow).

Some of these images are © 2012 CERN. Usage rights are here

This week a small gnome called Kern will be extremely honoured to visit CERN in Switzerland.

Why am I so excited about visiting CERN? 

CERN is the world’s largest particle physics lab and is the home of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC). On 30th March 2010 the LHC successfully smashed two proton beams travelling with 3.5 trillion electron volts of energy, resulting in a 7 trillion electron volt event. This event started us on the path to the expected discovery of the Higgs boson. 

Why does the Higgs boson interest me?

The Higgs boson is a hypothetical, massive subatomic particle with zero electric charge. It is postulated to interact with other particles in such a way as to impart mass to them.

In easier terms, all objects are hypothesised to have mass as a result of a field called the Higgs Field. Fields are made up of a class of particles known as bosons, so the Higgs Field is composed of groups of particles called Higgs bosons. A particle accelerator such as CERN can smash particles together at near light speed to try to create the correct conditions to isolate Higgs bosons so that they can be detected. If they are detected and their properties match those predicted by Peter Higg’s hypothesis, then we will have an explanation for why matter has mass.

For a gnome studying weight, precision measurements and gravitational fields, all of this is fascinating. I am looking forward to talking to some of the scientists at CERN about their important research.

CERN was also the birthplace of the World Wide Web through an internal project called ENQUIRE in 1989. Thank you for your fine work Tim Berners-Lee and Robert Cailliau.

Now please excuse me if I don’t blink for the next few days. I won’t want to miss a moment of this visit! 

Switzerland possibly has the highest gnome population in the world. They can add one more to the list temporarily. I have arrived!

The Swiss Federal Statistics Office are currently conducting a gnome census. They plan on counting every single gnome in the country, and they are trying to see if the gnomes are migrating from the mountains towards the cities. Personally I prefer the buzz of the city as I can meet more interesting people and gnomes to discuss science with. 

Switzerland has some fantastic scenery for the rural gnomes, from the imposing violent ridges of the Matterhorn to the majestic calm of Lake Geneva. There are still a few days left of the ski season, so hopefully I can get up to the mountains during my visit.

As you know by now, accuracy interests me, and Switzerland is responsible for the production of half of the world’s watches. There is no excuse for being late here, they are masters of horology.

The Swiss are the world’s largest consumers of chocolate. A fact which interests me very much. I thought my gnome village ate a lot. I’m sure the Swiss gnomes make up the larger percentage of consumption. I am looking forward to trying some of the local flavours, maybe I will find a gastrognome to make some recommendations. I better wait until after my Swiss weigh in.

The world’s largest laboratory CERN is in Switzerland. I wonder if any gnomes have visited there recently? I’m planning to stop in at CERN to make the latest reading for my global experiment. I better take a map to find my way around, a wrong turn could lead to a 27km walk!