Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Getting deep into heart of the matter @ CERN, Einstein's Home and Clear Water River

Switzerland is a beautiful country, the people have really built their civilization(homes and offices) blending with the nature. Those tilting trains and huge windows,Rivers and lakes formed by glaciers, Alps and some of the nicest people..Blah blah you all know how awesome switzerland is.. anyway I wanted to visit some non touristy remote places and some small towns in Swiss alps. Here I have written about Part 1 and will post Part 2 of blog later..its about a small town in Swiss Alps called Lukerbad.. 

So reading this you will learn about some non touristy places of swiss, meet awesome people, Dancing shiva at CERN, Albert Einstein's Aatma(Soul) hunt, a beautiful clear water lake and how anyone could do this in 3 days & 20  Euros.. 

Trip Plan

After some google image search on Switzerland and the current affairs(at that time), I had 3 Days 2 Nights and I decided to travel to : 

1) CERN : In July 2012 CERN was all over the news .. Announcement about the biggest experiment on Earth and findings of Higgs Boson Particle. I was next door in Germany so thought of trying to sneak in and to get deep into heart of the matter ;) .... 

2) Einstein's Home: 100 years before the Big Experriment at CERN, Einsten proposed theory of relativity while he lived at this home (1903-05). This equation has given all students lot of sleepless nights.I thought, why not visit his home and say Hi to his Aathma(soul).

3) Sherlock Holmes Reichenbach falls and Nearby Museum ..Both are imaginarily (i dont know what this word means) real places..

4) Clear Water Swim :  I found this place : Valle Verzasca while I was searching for "Beautiful Places in Switzerland" in Google images. Its a crystal clear river flowing between colorful rock formation. Its a river formed from glacier water so its super cold for fish or any living stuff.. Thought of swimming there.

The Plan : Visit the places in 3 days 2 Nights within 20 Euro (~1400 Rs) Budget, Camping and Eurail pass

The preparation for this was a good experience , like a mini MBA. Need to consider the travel logistics as these places are in 3 corners of swiss and I need to work on connecting trains, How to get into CERN ,Where to sleep, what to eat, weather and internet connection!  

Food: This(pic) is what I packed for 3 days. Non perishable,Easy to prepare in any weather, Chai is a must anyway where ever I go, Milk I can buy locally. Water any streams will do, I already have some storage capacity in my tummy:) .So I was sure I would not die from hunger. But lack of food its dangerous, especially when we try unkown adventures, the mind does nt work properly and we my take stupid decisions. 

Rough Plan in my diary 

How did I get Permit to visit CERN: 

  This was the toughest of all, as the time I visited was just few days after God Particle announcement(July 4th 2012), I first tried my friends , but nobody knew anyone working at CERN. Then I tried Couchsurferes in the Geneva area but no luck, Then finally I goggled for "Scientists in CERN"...Bang.. There I found some articles about the only permanent Indian employee at CERN. Found some research papers and through that her  Email ID and guys this is where college(Georgia Tech)  name helps a lot, I read the research papers and understood a bit about her research and wrote her a nice mail from my college Email ID. Such a nice person,she got me permit and told I can spend whole day at CERN. Thats awesome and lucky. !!!

After 12 hours of Journey from Hamburg and 6 connecting trains (I need to find free trains which accepts Eurail Pass). Usually long distance trains and inter country trains do not permit Eurail pass without reservation. So I need to find small connections. Get down at border and catch small trains to cross border  and then so on. 

Beautiful journey through mountains.. thats Lake Geneva.. A huuuuggge lake.. 

and through farm houses.. yeah this guy has a pool and slide for himself..Rich chilled out Swiss people.. :) 

And I reached CERN... :) 

Guys, Meet Dr Archana Sharma .. Top notch Indian scientist at CERN and a very nice person who is giving internship opportunity to pure science students(girls) from India and elsewhere. 

We both made some nice video all over CERN ,which I will edit and upload in some time. I need her permission to put it on web. :) 

 CERN campus is huge.. Large Hadron Collider which is one of the biggest experimental setup on earth,  spans across 2 countries. Imagine a Tunnel Circle of 27 kms (18 Miles) and 175 meters deep. Thats where we get deep into heart of the matter.. where particles travel at speed of light(almost)..circling this huge circle 11000 times each second.. imagine a roler coaster ride at this speed..;)   More on this :Youtube Video

She picked me up from main gate and we directly went to the main dining hall of CERN.

Because of the recent big announcement and follow up meetings, She told atleast I could find 3 Nobel laureates in this dining hall /restaurant at that moment. Thats a scary place for for a backpacker to be there.

I was surprised to see lot of youngsters in this place. 

This is one of the famous building where they analyse the results.. Offices for CMS and ATLAS scientist.

An awkward selfie in front of Building 40

Inside the work center

Geeky People

This is where they had eureka moment (higgs boson moment) 

They were telling me storing huge TBs of data and deciding what to flush out was a huge task.  

Took photoes of charts when I dont have time to read. Good thing was, I watched 2 documentaries about CERN and the experiment while travelling. It was useful as I could  understand what scientists told during my visit or when I ask anyone some question . It made the tour more interesting 

 Cafeteria. They eat science, drink science. Dr Archana Sharma took me everywhere she went all day and across the campus , even introducing me to all her students and fellow scientists. Nice stuff... She left me here in this cafeteria and went to attend a meeting.

I asked a question to one old scientist. He was so eager to answer (I guess they work so much and  they dont have anybody to share about their work). He told me so much for half an hour. His excitement was amazing but I understood only little. thanks to the documentary..

 Experiment Status

Everywhere Data data data. Like stock news they have their experiment status shown live on huge TV even in cafeteria.

Half an hour of listening to how they found about the unkown unknowns, I needed some coffee. 

I had a bad habit of taking photos of all currency notes. Collecting would double my budget.!! these swiss currencies are so colorful.!

 AT CMS facility: Mini accelerator

 These are the new magnets for LHC accelerator

Dancing Lord Shiva (Natraja) at CERN

 Presented by Department of Atomic Energy,India.


 Concrete Blocks to sheild from particles. Here we started going underground. Sorry I cant put some of the videos and pics taken here. Imagine guiiiiiiiiiiii sound + lot of wires + magenet smell + dim lights + lots of tags . Everything deep under the ground.

 This almirah belongs to India..:)

CERN Campus Car pool.. Campus across 2 countries definitely need this..

That ended my CERN visit and by late night I had to get to other corner of the swiss. Before going to next place I had to find McDonald's ( Its free internet in there) to update on latest train connections .  And a facebook time stamp update:)

Old train and new train. Swiss knife color

I hitch hiked with this guy at 1 AM midnight. He went 12 kms further than his destination to drop me. He liked Indian food so I gave him a small packet of garam masala and told him to mix with potato mash.:)

And I reached this place

This beautiful palce:)

Underwater formations(These are the google image search results for beautiful place in swiss) 

Slept here from 1 AM till 7. Actually church bell every hour scared the hell out of me. And what if dam had released water .. cold freezing water.. awesome thrill in this sleep.


       The clear water hides the dangerous currents , depth and its very slippery. Check out the formation

I got in the water for some 40 seconds. It was cold 

Morning Tea in the middle of Alps valley 

Art when hungry would be horrible.. Still an art.. 

Church on the other side which scared me. The bell echoes as tehre are mountains around. 

 So from there I hitched another ride to nearest station and again train catching started. This was a good bus stop. I like this place a lot. last resort I need a place to sleep if the weather gets worst. This was a good confined box.

And Bern to meet Einstein"s Aatma (soul)

P.S : My descriptions are shorter as I am loosing patience with this blog (like you).. And I am hungry..

This is where the legend lived and wrote theory of relativity.

Btw least luggage would help a lot. And that T Shirt was gifted to me by my sister. she sent it to US for my 24th birthday:) .. Ok back to blog..sry, just wandered a bit..

Beautiful Street where Einstein lived

Said hi and Bye to his aatma(soul) and left back to Germany. It took 9 connections to reach Germany from Swiss free of cost(Eurail)..:)

Please let me know if you like to visit any of these place. leave a comment/views. It would help me and others who are reading this..