Monday, September 30, 2013

LHCb and LHC point 6

Last weekend CERN organised open-days. Over 70 000 people visited CERN facilities and over 20 000 of them went underground  in one of six underground facilities. During this days 2 300 CERN volunteers cared about people's safety and good time. I was one of them. I was an underground guide in LHC Point 6 which is responsible for LHC beam dumping system.

On Monday CERN opened these six underground facilities for members of personnel so I had occasion to see LHCb experiment and once again LHC Point 6 - this time with a camera.

Before LHC was created, CERN worked with LEP (Large Electron Positron) Collider. At those times LHCb cavern was the place of DELPHI experiment. Because disassembling and removing of DELPHI detector would be very time consuming and very expensive, it was decided to keep part of the detector underground and move LHCb a bit aside. Thanks to that I was able to see not one but two detectors.

Then we moved to LHC Point 6 where I was a guide during the weekend. LHC beam dumping system was created because you can't leave circulated protons inside LHC after finishing a day of work. Protons have energy of moving train and if they hit any part of LHC they will destroy it. It is also not so easy to redirect them to some safe place because they travel with almost speed of light. So beam duping system contains three types of magnets that do this job.


Kickers that extract very fast beam from LHC pipes and redirect it a bit up.


MSD that redirect beam a bit left.


MKB that spread beam from 1x1 mm (when it enters the magnet) to 30x30 cm (when beam hits block of 8 meters of graphite). Beam must be spread because even 8 meters of graphite can't handle a moving train that hits 1x1 mm spot.

At the both end of LHC Point 6 you can see LHC circle curvature

I had lots of fun while guiding people through undergrounds of Point 6 and now I saw almost all of CERN underground facilities. Next stop: ALICE and LHC Point 4.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Discovering France and Switzerland

In the past weeks we went for a couple of walks around the neighborhood, so here's a collective post with the most beautiful photos from these events.

First on: vineyards in Challex:

Plateau de Solaison:
 Ornex and view on Mont Blanc:
Vesegnin and sunset over fields (and Mont Blanc again):

Somewhere up Montreux:
Saint Jean de Gonville:
Quarry near Pugny and Radek in water:

View point (on Geneva and Mont Blanc) near Gex:


Now it seems like summer is over, making way to autumn, so the next post of this kind will be less green, more pastel.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Birdies, birdies, birdies...

When visiting Dombes region, Parc des Oiseaux (Bird's Park) is an unquestionable must! I really can't express how much I liked this place. We spent almost 4 hours there and I know it could have been even longer if we had had more time. The place is pretty big and it's being expanded by new areas and new bird species. When we arrived, we headed straight to lories' aviary because it was their feeding time and we could actively participate in this. Boy, it was fun... Apart from just marvelous, colourful birds, the real amusement was to actually give them food and to be able to touch them. Radek was lucky enough to experience close encounter of a third kind with some of the birds :)

When feeding was over, we still had some time before the big event - a bird's performance organised by the park - so we just strolled around and watched different breeds.

Then, the show... We didn't know what to expect so we were quite excited before. In principle, the main idea of the show was: birds flying just centimeters from the spectators' heads. Me during the show: -Look at that! -Look at this! -WOW, look at that! - Oh, look  at this!... It was also educational because the lady was describing the birds, their habitats and habits.


When the show finished, we still had like 3/4 of the park to see. Fortunately, visiting all the aviaries was not tiring. There were few people and the path were made in such a way to make people feel being emerged in nature, rather than visiting a zoo. And so, we went past: parrots, flamings, chicks (these ones were pretty ugly, yet very cute), toucans, owls, ostriches, condors, penguins, ducks and many others I'm unable to quote... We even saw a kangaroo in an Australia-theme area of the park. Although I don't like revisiting the same places - this time I hope I will have the chance to see those marvels again.

Exploring Dombes region

Today, because of Swiss holiday, we had a day off to use. Although it is September, the weather was like in July, so we decided to make a trip outside the city. Destination: Dombes region, France. The area is well known for its ponds and water-soaked grounds. Our plan for the day: les jardins aquatiques (water gardens), Châtillon-sur-Chalaronne village, Le Parc des Oiseaux (bird park), a medieval village of Pérouges. Looks like an action-paked day for us.

We started from a small but beautiful water garden, nurtured by a company selling water-garden stuff (like fish, pumps and plants). They really know their ropes - the garden was marvelous. It's best known for koi carps - very colourful little fellows swiming in their ponds. I really enjoyed this short walk - it was a nice start of our day.

Next, we headed to a lovely village - Châtillon-sur-Chalaronne. There was nothing special to see or do there, so we just walked around narrow allays, visited the hill with a castle, sat down in a cafe and enjoyed the sunny day and the charm and idleness of the place.

Then, we drove to Le Parc des Oiseaux - but this is a place that deserves a separate post, so I will skip it here. A visit in the park took us almost four hours, so when we were actually free it was already late afternoon. Last in our plan: a medieval village of Pérouges. It's listed among 'les plus beaux villages de France' (the most beautiful villages of France). I would personally compare it to Yvoire, although I liked Yvoire more. When we arrived, the village looked... deserted. There were few people, restaurants were closed... It felt a bit strange. We had a fast stroll through the cobblestoned streets, tasted la galette de Pérouges - a local delicacy and went back to car.