A unique emotion to visit a place where humanity has been able to set aside its rivalries for the advancement of knowledge and Science, the Centre Européen pour la Recherche Nucléaire, or CERN.
There’s no point in describing what is CERN, you probably have read about it multiple times: a 27-km ring where particles are accelerated to within a sliver of the speed of light (99.99991%) and then bashed together head-on to see what happens.
That’s the first challenge: even with the best efforts of concentrating the two colliding proton beams, the chance of a collision is still pretty low. So focusing the beam (and accelerating it) are the two paramount challenges of CERN.
In tackling this challenge they had to create a place of extremes. CERN is the coldest place in the Universe, achieving temperatures of 1.9°K (-271.45 °C) to run the superconducting magnets immersed in liquid helium which can focus and accelerate the proton beams.To put things in perspective, the background radiation of the Universe is 3 °K.
To minimize the probability of the beams scattering in the 27 kilometers rings, they also had to empty said rings to a degree unseen again anywhere in the Universe, that is 10^-13 atmospheres.
Colder and emptier than any place in deep space, and it’s here, 15 minutes by tram from the city centre of Geneva.
How awesome is humanity?