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Physics trip to ESRF in Grenoble

By Megan Rocher

At the end of October this autumn I, together with two other natural science students at IEGS, had the wonderful opportunity to go to Grenoble to visit ESRF, a synchrotron facility. Which obviously is a thing we all talk about on a daily basis. It is an electron accelerator, producing X-rays. Which might be even more confusing.

My name is Matilda Froste. I was one of the in total twelve girls who had sent in a contribution to a physics competition that would take us to ESRF and the city in which it lies. We quickly realised using English as a mean of communication in France wasn’t the most efficient way of making ourselves understood. However as we swiftly got to know each other we agreed to use one of the girls as our walking dictionary. It was very helpful when reading the menu’s. We wouldn’t always appreciate a surprise plate of snails.

Nonetheless, as we passed the gates into ESRF, the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility, something changed. The language went from something we didn’t understand to something we are a wee bit more familiar with; namely English. And English in every accent you can ever imagine (trust me we heard them all). We were taken to the Visitor’s centre, and our two day visit there smoothly started.

We were shown how the entire synchrotron functions. It started with an introductory presentation that gave us an overview, and later on were given a tour around the facility. It was extremely exciting to see a particle accelerator up close. Sadly, the electrons were going a bit too fast to be spotted, but luckily we were given instructions to experiments regarding the science carried out there, of which we then performed. Further on we observed the results, collected the data, and presented it in a scientific manner. The range of scientists we had the pleasure to meet was incredible. Their engagement in our visit was extraordinary; they put in a great amount of effort for us to enjoy it. It worked. Believe me.

Plus, they have a great lunch there. They serve dessert every day.

All in all, it was an absolutely amazing trip. I met extremely funny, intelligent young women my age, I met physicists who engaged in my excitement for physics, and I, ultimately, met science as it is in the real world.



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