Usually, New Year’s Eve is a time for family, friends, and of course, rushing homework last minute as one drafts a list of (soon to be unfulfilled) New Year’s resolutions. However, this year’s proved to be extraordinary: a trip to the ArtScience Museum on New Year’s Eve was a truly memorable experience as I had the privilege of exploring 2 exquisitely prepared exhibits on the LHC(Large Hadron Collider) and Nobel Prize inventions.

Brief history behind the LHC and Nobel Prize:

Located a hundred metres underground on the France-Switzerland border in Geneva, the 27 kilometre long particle accelerator gained fame for its momentous discovery of the Higgs Boson. This led to the presentation of the 2013 Nobel Prize for physics to Dr. Peter Higgs, the man who theorized the existence of the particle. This particle is the final jigsaw piece in what is known to be the Standard Model of physics. However, even physicists admit that the Standard Model is flawed, and that is precisely where the LHC comes into play – to find out what we don’t yet know.

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The Higgs Boson is a vital cog in completing the puzzle that is the Standard Model of physics; but even then, there is so much more to discover.

Alfred Nobel, a man of many talents, was the founder of the Nobel Prize Awards. Born in 1833, he was most famously known for his numerous inventions, amongst which the most notorious was his invention of dynamite, used extensively in modern warfare. He accumulated a vast fortune across his lifetime, eventually becoming disillusioned after reading a French newspaper that claimed he had left behind a legacy as ‘The Merchant of Death’. Deciding to alter the way he wanted to be remembered by the world, he would declare in his will that the majority of his wealth would be used to fund the Nobel Prizes, which were to be awarded annually to those who contributed greatly in the progression of mankind. As of today, nobel prizes are awarded to those who make notable contributions to the areas of peace, chemistry, physics, literature, economics and medicine.

Expectations of exhibits:

And now we’re back to the interesting part of what you get to see at the LHC exhibit. While I certainly do not want to spoil the surprise for those yet to visit the exhibit (you can do so on one of your subject days!), I can certainly give a heads-up on what you might expect there. For a mere 10 bucks (free for those going on subject day), one gets to experience both exhibits.

The LHC exhibition mainly describes the history behind the LHC, brief descriptions of how it functions, and salient personnel who have contributed to its creation. While this information can be easily found online, what is so fascinating and endearing about this exhibit, for science-lovers and museum-goers alike, is being able to see the actual displays in person. From J.J. Thomson’s cathode ray tube to the variety of complex parts of the LHC on display, those who delight in viewing revered scientific relics and rare sights will be in for a treat. Most importantly, this exhibit holds no grudges against those not well-acquainted with physics, but reading up on some basic information beforehand certainly wouldn’t hurt.

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Clockwise from top left: A replica of a Lawrence Livingston 11-inch cyclotron, J.J. Thomson’s cathode ray tube, LHC tunnel cross-section with magnets to direct proton beams, Drawing of Gargamelle detector, one of the biggest ever particle detectors.

Perhaps a little more relatable to most people will be the famous nobel prize (did you know 2 nobel laureates will be visiting VJC sometime later this month?!). The Nobel Prize inventions exhibit features many exciting items which belonged to nobel prize winners or to Alfred Nobel himself. Interactive applets are on display providing the names and brief information on every Nobel Laureate since 1901. What appealed to me most about the exhibit was the seamless way in which the LHC exhibit transitioned into the nobel prize exhibit; indeed, my trusty companion on museum trips was not even aware of the change in surroundings until midway through the Nobel Prize inventions exhibit!

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Left depicts the patent and designs by Alfred Nobel on another of his less famous inventions, the cannon. Right depicts a famous excerpt written in his will regarding the creation of the nobel prizes.

The wealth of information and items on display make this an amazing opportunity for those eager to learn outside the classroom. For those still undecided on what to go for on subject day, take my advice and sign up for this; you will not regret your decision. Ultimately, New Year’s Eve turned out to be a pretty eventful one for my friends and I after all.

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Benjamin Chew, 15S44

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