Day Reports 2016

Sunday 1st of May
On the 1st of May 2016, early in the morning, Study Tour ‘Moving Mountains’ departed with 18 members of HV Ockham to Switzerland. The first day consisted mainly of a bus drive to Geneva. Although long, the journey was very comfortable in the spacious bus which contained several tables for people to play games and interact with other participants. Later that day the first hills and mountains appeared and we even saw some snow. We arrived at Geneva Hostel in the evening, after we became stuck in the small one-way streets in search of a good place to offload people and luggage. After checking in and unpacking, everyone went sightseeing in Geneva for a short time before heading to bed to prepare for the long but exciting days that were about to come.
Monday 2nd of May
The first full day of the study tour started early, which is even harder on a Monday. A little after seven more and more people turned up for breakfast, some more awake than others. There was some time to have breakfast, but not much, as the visit to CERN was starting at 9 AM.
After a quick drive we arrived at the main entrance of CERN, where we were greeted by a somewhat older man, who probably had been with CERN from the beginning. He told us about the groundbreaking and interesting work that is being done and showed us that they are so much more than just the LHC. Just about any field of particle physics is studied at CERN of which we were given some examples. One of the examples he was most interested in, was studying the properties of an anti-hydrogen atom, which consists completely out of antimatter.
After this talk we were shown two of the many parts of the organization. The first one we visited was the data center. This is the place the through the years has made it possible that all experiments can be conducted, analyzed, distributed and stored, making it one of the important parts of CERN. Secondly we visited a particle accelerator, namely Low Energy Ion Ring (LEIR). This is a relatively small accelerator that can be used for research purposes directly, or can be used as a source for the Large Hadron Collider.
In the afternoon we had all the time to explore the beautiful city of Geneva. Where the evening before we had some time after dark to explore a bit of the city, this afternoon we could see the city in its full glory. And it was beautiful. Different groups found their way around the city. On foot, by bus, tram or even boat. There was enough opportunity to enjoy the city and enjoy the beautiful weather we had.

Tuesday 3rd of May
The morning was a busy one, with everyone having to pack their bags. After a short breakfast, we went to the bus to continue on to Bern. Arrived at our destination it took some time to find CasCination, as we managed to miss every board pointing towards the company. This is not very suprising, as it is a small startup company. CasCination develops guidance tools for surgeons that make it possible to perform more complex (soft tissue) surgery.
The visit started with something to drink, which most of the participants welcomed after the bus drive of two hours. The visit started with a short history of the company, after which we split up into smaller groups, to be shown the different parts of the work being done by the company. Two devices they developed were demonstrated, and some of us even got some hands-on experience!
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After our visit to CasCination all participants had some free time, before the visit to the Einstein Research Center started. Most used this time to explore a bit, so that they knew where to go after the last visit of the day. The visit to the Einstein Center took place at the University of Bern, which is located in several beautiful and old buildings. Here we got a lecture about some of the most important work of Einstein, such as general relativity. Also some more advanced topics were touched, such as the prediction and measurement of gravitational waves and the implications this has had.
Directly after this time there was some time to get dinner, before we had to continue our journey towards Zurich. By the time we arrived in Zurich it was already quite late. Some people still spent some time in the bar below our hostel, before heading to bed.

Wednesday 4th of May
Our first morning in Zurich took some getting used too. After getting up at 7 again, everyone slowly moved downstairs for breakfast. Clearly after several days of sleeping in strange places, people were starting to feel the effects, as some would have preferred to sleep longer.
Our first stop was at ETH, more precisely the Hoenggerberg campus. Here we met up with Astatine, with whom we would join up for the tour at ETH. The group was split up, with some groups starting with a campus tour, while others immediately went to the labs. During the campus tour we were told about the history of the campus and shown all the good spots, ending on top of one of the highest buildings having a great view of the campus.

During the lab tour some groups visited the Nanophysics group, while others visited the Laboratory of Ion beam physics. Here there are several accelerators that can be used to identify different isotopes of material and to measure the quantity. This is used to do carbon dating for example. This is also done in the same building, and this was shown to us too. In a lab samples were made that are needed for carbon dating, which are then places in the accelerator to do the measurement. Later we were also shown the accelerators that are currently being developed, which were only a few meters in dimension, making them deployable in many more places.
When the tours were done, we had some free time on the campus to eat. People used this time to explore some more of the university, or to enjoy the lovely weather, as the sun was shining brightly. Around 2:30 PM we all gathered at the bus stop again, to continue our trip towards Stadler.
At Stadler the sun was still shining, so we sat outside enjoying the sun a bit more until they were ready to receive us. After a general introduction of the company, we went on the production site. Here we got to see how they make a complete train from steel plates. Our guide told is about how a train is operated, reason for different models and even showed us a Mercedes train (yes, you can have a Mercedes train, if you have the money.) When the tour ended and we were all educated on beautiful trains, we ended the day at Stadler with a drink and a little bite to eat, which was very “gezellig”.
Afterwards we went back to Zurich, where the last evening in Switzerland was free to enjoy.
Thursday 5th of May

On the fifth and last day of the study tour we all got the chance to explore Zürich a bit more after checking out at the hostel in the early morning. Luckily, just as during the rest of the week, the weather was great. The city was quite lively and busy even though it was Ascension Day and many shops and museums were closed. Some of us got to enjoy a beautiful sight of Zürich at a viewpoint higher up the mountains. Others went into the centre of the city and looked at the botanic gardens, the lake and the mountains surrounding it. Even the old city centre and other sightseeing points were further explored. Unfortunately, close to one in the afternoon, we had to depart to Enschede. The journey back from Zürich was a little bit shorter than that from Enschede to Geneva in regards to the distance we had to travel. Our faithful bus driver Harry drove us to Oberhausen were we had to be substituted by another bus driver. Harry was given a well-deserved thank you, applause and a warm goodbye for getting us from and to our destinations through the small and busy streets while trying to comply with all the traffic regulations. Funnily enough he was replaced by another Harry, who made sure we arrived in Enschede safely. Unfortunately, this also meant the end of the 2016 study tour.
We have had a great time on this study tour. We had interesting excursions, got to know new people and got to explore the beautiful country Switzerland. We hope the next study tour will be just as great and interesting.