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Posts Tagged ‘winter’

Currently I am sitting at Geneva airport waiting for my plane to finally leave for Amsterdam. Looking east I see something the average cernoise is always happy to see: First snow on the Jura.
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Blooming Dipoles

Tuesday, March 25th, 2008

The Geneva area is really quite ideal in terms of climate. During the winter the many mountains in the area get tons of snow but there is rarely snow in the city or surrounding towns. As a result you have the best of both worlds: great skiing very nearby without the drudgery of constantly digging out your car. But occasionally we do get snow storms in the lower altitudes, such as this past weekend. For me this serves as a reminder of why I don’t live in places like Buffalo, NY, for example. Although, I do rather enjoy the occasional digging out of my car from a foot or so of soft, fluffy snow. It is quite therapeutic. It is not, however, therapeutic to dig out my car from 4 feet of very compact snow, dumped by the snowplow directly in front of the car. This being the situation I found myself in this morning. Honestly, snowplow person? Did you not see my car there?

Those frustrations aside, as a native Californian I was raised with the belief that the end of March is Spring (go ahead, laugh. But ask any Californian when Spring is and you will get a similar response. This is because Californians deep down believe that seasons are really just fictional, made up by Northerners and East-coasters to discourage us from vacationing there). So as April looms, I expect to wake up to my garden flowers blooming, not to my front-door stairs becoming a ramp of snow.

But apparently the LHC magnets are responding to the call of Spring. Over the past few weeks, magnets have been popping up everywhere. In the center of round-a-bouts, outside supermarkets, and several places around CERN, such as this superconducting dipole magnet which is just outside my office building.

dipole_magnet

All of these magnets are being displayed in anticipation of CERN’s ‘open days’, which take place during the first weekend of April. During the open days, all access points including the beam tunnel and all experiments are open to the public for tours. If you are in town, go! It is a great opportunity to see the guts of the LHC and the detectors.

This dipole magnet shown in the picture is what one of the main dipole magnets used in the accelerator ring looks like. Of which there are 1232 in total. Actually there are almost 9600 different magnets used in the LHC. This fact guide (linked at the bottom of the page) gives a description of the purpose of the many different magnet types.

And of course if you are entering a round-a-bout and happen to see one of these huge magnets in the center, don’t worry about your car being sucked into it, these are just shells. But anyone can see the real ones during the open day.

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