My beautiful days at CERN

Wasikul Islam

Once the former President of my country India and a noted scientist, Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, was asked by a reporter “what would be called the national sin ?” according to him.  In his reply he said : “Small dreams are the biggest crime for a nation”! Being one of the biggest fans of our late President APJ Abdul Kalam, I was greatly fascinated by his words like millions of other children of my country. Specially the phrase :”Small dreams are the biggest crime” motivated me all the time not to dream a single trivial dream from my very childhood!

Hence, I am a dreamy student of Physics from West Bengal, India. When I was at school, at that time collisions started at LHC for the first time. I used to read all the news articles of different newspapers with lots of excitement and I used to convey all the updates to my friends and family. In my school days, for the first time I met an Indian Physicist from Saha Institute of Nuclear Physics who works for CERN. And after attending his lecture at my school, I was so excited that I used to take pride in conveying the news of my introduction to a CERN guy! And after that day, my interest in CERN increased a million times and I dreamt to reach CERN once in my life to see what is going on there with my own eyes!

During my 5 years study (Bachelors and Master degree of Physics) at Aligarh Muslim University, India, I got motivated immensely by the Professors of Physics, specially by the Experimental Particle Physics group. They are working in the ALICE experiment at CERN since 15 years and they have significant contribution in the ALICE Di-muon spectrometer. During my MSc. Physics, I took Particle Physics as my specialization and studied lots of aspects of Particle physics, its issues and how CERN is trying to address them! That theoretical knowledge made me more excited about CERN. With the encouragement of my Professors (Specially Prof. Muhammad Irfan Sir) at Aligarh Muslim University, I applied for the Summer Students Programme for 2015 and I was fortunate enough to be selected. Me along with my Professors were very happy mainly for two reasons: 1. Only 4 Physics students were selected out of more than 700 applications from India this year, and I was one of those four students. 2. I am the first student from my University to be selected for the Summer Student Programme at CERN!

This summer programme at CERN gave me unique opportunities to observe and to work for the world's greatest scientific project, an amazing experience for me. I attended lecture classes from the world experts and also had the opportunity to interact with some of the greatest scientific minds of the Physics Community (Especially Prof. John Ellis). There was a time when I used to watch video lectures of John Ellis at Aligarh. So, when I met him in his office, gossiped a lot, exchanged many emails, I was feeling blessed.

I was allotted my project under ALICE secretariat and my supervisor was Yiota Foka, who is now working for GSI, Darmstadt. I was very excited to work in the ALICE experiment, specially because of the physics goals of ALICE. I felt immense happiness to feel that our ALICE experiment is trying to solve the mysteries regarding the origin of our universe! My project was on Accelerators. Our target was to assemble all the materials for "Understanding Accelerators" and create a common platform for all the useful materials in a webpage; also to classify those materials for people of different age groups.

Hence, for three different categories i.e; 1. for school students 2. for school teachers 3. for University beginners, I have separately prepared different presentations and collected all the useful web links, videos, animations, games etc. related to accelerators to be uploaded to a single webpage. I hope this work of mine will be useful for making people understand about accelerators and their importance and applications, which is the need of the hour!

I participated in several workshops, such as: CERN LHeC Workshop 2015; Workshop on Characterisation of Scintillating Fibres; ROOT Tutorial Workshop; Cloud Chamber Workshop.  I had official visits to: the Synchrocyclotron (CERN's first accelerator) and ATLAS; the Data Centre & the Antiproton Decelerator (AD); the SM18 & CERN Control Centre (CCC); The Point 2 of LHC where the ALICE detector is installed.

Among innumerable special memories at CERN, I would like to specify some. During my stay at CERN, I had a golden opportunity to participate in a documentary made by CERN on the summer students, where few selected students including me were asked about our journey to CERN, our childhood dreams and future goals, and the impact of the internship. On the other hand, I have myself taken an initiative to make a documentary on my Aligarh Muslim University and CERN, which I hope will popularize the activities of CERN more at least to the people of my country India.

Besides that I got great exposure and lots of physicist friends from almost every corner of the globe. I hope the relations with them, the exposure, the wonderful CERN experience will be benefitting me forever in my career. My two months experience at this greatest scientific environment of the world will motivate me more for research in Particle Physics, for which I am going to start my PhD at Oklahoma State University, USA, just after the completion of this programme. For the rest of my life, this summer experience of CERN will always inspire me to work hard and to prosper in life, to think internationally, to work for all the people of the globe ! Heartfelt thanks to CERN for giving me this golden opportunity once again! 

Alice Matters