In the week from 9 to 12 April we visited two large research institutes and a nuclear power plant located in Switzerland. More specifically, these are the PSI (Paul Scherrer Institute) and the CERN Institute in Switzerland. The excursion was organized by the DHBW Mosbach and the Informatik Jahrgang 2016.
It all started with the trip to the Paul Scherer Institute in Villigen, Switzerland. The institute is active in several research areas from the natural and engineering sciences. Because of the broad spectrum of disciplines and the complexity of the topic, the basics of particle physics were presented to us for the first time. Afterwards we were introduced to the different fields. These include the subject areas: Research with neutrons and muons, nuclear energy, photon science, etc. This also includes the treatment of cancer behind the eye and similar cancers that cannot be treated so well with chemotherapy.
We were then able to take a guided tour of individual parts of the large facility.
SLS company building
The second day was, in contrast to the first, more free. In the morning we visited the inventors’ fair iENA (International Trade Fair for “Ideas, Inventions and Novelties”). There we had an insight into different ideas, from robots for cleaning lakes to electric cars.
After our stay at the fair, we spent the free afternoon in the city of Geneva. We were able to discover the culinary and cultural offers of the city in the sunny weather.
On the third day we visited CERN (European Organization for Nuclear Research). Not only did we see something about the history and current research projects, but we were also able to take a look behind the scenes. CERN has several particle accelerators and the LHC (Large Hadron Collider) in which proton beams are brought into collision after acceleration. The LHC alone is already over 26 km long and is equipped with several measuring stations.
We looked at both the workshop where the tube and the necessary components for the accelerators will be built and the control centre for the various facilities. Some of them also visited the control centre for the experiments on the ISS.
Since the LHC is not in operation at the moment, we also had the opportunity to go underground at a station (ALICE). We were able to observe the large measuring station up close at a depth of 60 metres.
At the end of our excursion we visited the nuclear power plant in Gösgen. We learned a lot about the advantages and disadvantages of nuclear power as well as the different reactor generations and types. Switzerland’s plans for final disposal and the problems that arise were presented in a very clear and comprehensible way.
The highlight, however, was the guided tour through the power plant in small groups. For safety reasons we could not take anything with us into the power plant, so we could not take pictures. Except for the reactor itself, we could see everything. From the cooling tower over the cooling circuits up to the turbines and the generator. The most striking thing was how “analog” the control center of the power plant is. However, the reasons for this are manifold and understandable.
Switzerland prides itself on building particularly safe power plants, which is why we took a closer look at the various safety mechanisms and systems. It was felt that there were at least 3 backup solutions for each system.
Nuclear power plant Gösgen