With dreams of attending a summer school at CERN thwarted, the young scientist remained undeterred. His path led him from Granada to the UK, USA and Canada, and now, here in the fairest Cape, those dreams of working with CERN have become a reality. Prof Nico Orce of UWC shares a personal story of his journey, leading him to the first South African-led experiment in physics at CERN.
About fifteen years ago, as an undergraduate student in Spain, I convinced a few friends of mine to apply for a Summer School at CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research. With over 15,000 scientists and engineers from all over the world working in unison to reveal the secrets of nature, CERN is probably the most extraordinary research institution in the world. Getting there was our dream. The only thing that we needed was the consent and signature of a physics professor at the University of Granada in charge of student exchange programs. I sadly remember how the heads of my friends were going slowly down and down as such a “gentleman” was telling us, as a matter of fact, that “only the crème de la crème, students from MIT, Princeton, Oxford or Cambridge get to go to these kind of workshops. This is a small university and our students are not prepared for that.” He did not sign the forms. I went to England to do a PhD in experimental nuclear physics. But that was not the end of the story. Read More