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A Fusion of Culture: Swiss Chocolate and the Origins of the Universe

12 Finalists Visit CERN in Geneva, Switzerland
July 16, 2010

This year, as one of the Intel ISEF Special Awards, a dozen Finalists earned the opportunity to tour CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research. Located in Geneva, Switzerland, CERN is a leading laboratory for particle physics where scientists research big questions like the origins of the universe. The Intel ISEF students attended lectures with world-renowned scientists, observed some of world’s most complex scientific instruments, and, of course, enjoyed Geneva and some Swiss chocolate.

“I felt that the CERN trip was a good fusion of a cultural and scientific experiences…I spoke in French and listened to lectures on particle physics; I ate real pizza and was as close to the LHC [Large Hadron Collider] as I’ll ever be...what could be better?” says student Mubarrat Nuvid Bhuiyan, from Jericho, New York. She says the trip inspired her and helped her explore her career options given that she is interested in both physics and medicine. She also says, “I learned of and respected not only the scientific aspects of CERN’s research but also CERN’s commitment to handling data responsibly and collaborating effectively.”

Michael Flynn, a Finalist from Kihei, Hawaii, echoes Mubarrat’s sentiments. “From the beginning, the whole trip was just amazing,” he says. “Our group had the opportunity to learn important engineering concepts of the highest level by observing the structure and function of the advanced detector installations at all of CERN's experiments. Even better were some of the lectures given to us: world class scientists gave us presentations in superconductivity, neuroscience, particle accelerators, and a number of other important areas of particle physics.” Michael says that the experience also helped him think about what types of issues to pursue, especially the one-on-one time he had with a scientist. “This experience has significantly influenced my choice of future studies, and will probably now include quantum field theory.”

Even if you weren’t on the trip, you can still get a taste of this amazing experience: