Gets a first-hand look at Large Hadron Collider tunnel

President Pratibha Patil on Saturday visited the prestigious European Organisation for Nuclear Research, known as CERN, where she patted Indian scientists for their contributions to cutting-edge research work.

Ms. Patil, who is on a state visit to Switzerland, drove to CERN that is located just minutes away from the Swiss border.

An inquisitive Ms. Patil, who was left mesmerised by the centre known for its cutting-edge research work in physics, left CERN’s Director General Rolf-Dieter Heuer pondering for answers on many occasions.

Ms. Patil took a round of the centre and went 70 metres underground to get a first-hand look at the 27-km-long tunnel, where the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is located.

The experiment had aimed to recreate the conditions of the Big Bang, when the universe is thought to have exploded into existence about 14 billion years ago.

The President’s visit to the centre began with a power point presentation on India’s contribution to the entire project.

“I am impressed by this global collaborative effort at CERN, which is working to solve the fundamental issues of physical science and which has the potential of having positive spin offs for mankind,” she said.

“I am also proud at the continuing contributions of Indian scientists here,” the president told PTI.

The focus of the visit was the ALICE project, one of the largest experiment in the world devoted to the research in the physics of matter at an infinitely small scale, particular, for the study of Quark Gluon Plasma in the laboratory.

When CERN’s chief Mr. Heuer claimed that by next year the European nuclear research centre would be able to get to the truth about Higgs Boson, a massive elementary particle predicted to exist by the Standard Model of particle physics, Ms. Patil was keen to know how it would benefit the future of mankind.

The President also asked a number of questions on global warming and how to make energy cheap and affordable.

Indians have contributed greatly to the project not only in terms of scientific knowledge but also with a host of electronic gadgets.

The entire structure for the project, which has an Indian-made 8,000 tonne magnet and millions of circuits, took 20 years to be constructed.

Ms. Patil also interacted with Indians scientists and research students at the centre where work has been halted since Friday night to make it radiation-free for the President’s visit.

Ms. Patil arrived in Geneva on Friday on an official visit to Switzerland where she will stay till October 4 and then travel to Austria for a state visit from October 4 to 7.

More In: Science | Sci-Tech | News | National