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Beam there

Peter Walker is head of physics at Downs School, Newbury "The visit satisfied all my expectations. I now have 18 students who can hold an informed discussion on how neutrons are generated and give an analysis of muon technology.

The students were enthralled to be in close proximity to machines cranking protons up to speeds of 83 per cent that of light. And being adjacent to machines that could drop temperatures to a fraction of absolute zero was awesome.

They were a little taken aback by the need to use their calculators, but realising they only needed to use the kinetic energy equation brought home to them just how far a firm grounding in GCSE physics goes.

I gained an appreciation of the use of particle physics in industry. Having been a chartered civil engineer, my industrial tales tend to be based on sewers, roads and building-site accidents.

Now I can say to my students: "Here is the world's most powerful particle accelerator."

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