Members of the Cuesta College Physics Department recently toured the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) located near Switzerland. The excursion, led by physics faculty member Dr. James Eickemeyer, included eight Cuesta College students who spent Saturday, May 25th, touring the world’s largest and highest-energy particle accelerator.   The students spent about a week abroad and paid their own way to participate in the one-unit field studies course created by Dr. Eickemeyer.

The LHC, built by the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN), is considered one of the greatest engineering milestones of mankind. The structure measures 17 miles in circumference and lies in a tunnel nearly 600 feet beneath the Franco-Swiss border near Geneva, Switzerland. It is designed to allow physicists to test different theories and advance the human understanding of physical laws.

“One of the reasons that I have found my studies in physics so gratifying is that it gives me a better understanding of the world that surrounds us,” said tour participant and Cuesta College physics student Christopher Eckert. “CERN’s research in particle physics is fascinating to me in that they are able to determine so much about the origins of the universe and the forces that govern our existence.”

The tour was a first for the Cuesta College Physics Department, which was the only community college to participate in the excursion.

“I hope the students gained an appreciation for the magnitude of this project, and for the ability of the human mind to predict and then verify some of the most abstract and fundamental principles of the universe,” said Dr. Eickemeyer.

The LHC, completed in 2008, was built over a ten year period through the collaboration of more than 10,000 scientists and engineers from over 100 countries.

“Our tour guide made a point of speaking about CERN as an organization that is not tied to any specific nation; they have a mission to provide research and knowledge to all people. Scientists from around the world can come to Europe and work on their life’s passion,” said Eckert. “The fact that research conducted at CERN can help evolve and change a variety of fields of study, from medicine to engineering, gives me hope and encouragement that this organization is truly one of the most important centers in the world.”

Dr. Eickemeyer hopes to lead a similar excursion again next year.

Lauren Milbourne / (805) 546-3108 / / Posted: 7/1/13