Science and Scenery of Switzerland – by Stephanie Sykora
There is more to Switzerland than chocolate and pocket knives, and though it may be infamously neutral in conflicts, it is anything but neutral for an amazing travel or educational destination. I recently visited this land of the Swiss and to sum up the trip, it was science and scenery galore! Below are some highlights of my east-to-west trip in Switzerland to inspire travellers, students, and scientists–alike.
Science: ETH Zurich
Consistently in the top 5 places in the world to live, Zurich is a beautiful lake-side city with the right amount of old European charm and new western lifestyle. On top of the hill and over-looking the city stands the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH). Though it may not be as commonly known as the names of “Oxford” or “Cambridge”, this university is regarded as one of the top universities in the world, with over 21 Nobel Prize laureates, such as Albert Einstein!
In central Switzerland, near Interlaken and Lauterbrunnen the Alps start to immerge and their presence will do nothing less than take your breath away. Now, I’m from Canada and used to towering, glacier-cap mountains, however, once you see the actually vertical faces and heights of these mountains, accompanied with glowing green hills and a old Swiss chateau here-and-there, you see how unparalleled the land of the Swiss really is. Fantastic examples of plate tectonic mountain building, layered and folded rocks, and glacier carved valleys are only a few of the spectacular geological wonders to be explored.
Science: Large Hadron Collider at CERN
In the very west edge, on the border with France resides the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) which is home to the Large Hadron Collider (LHC). If you like physic, quantum mechanics, and well, science in general, then it’s worth taking a tour of this groundbreaking place. The LHC is a 27 km circular tunnel ~100m underground and is a particle accelerator where subatomic particles are smashed together at speeds close to the speed of light. The LHC is considered the “greatest scientific experiment in the world” and can be contributed to the aid of understanding fundamental building blocks of life, and even the creation of the internet!
In conclusion, if you like science and/or scenery, I would recommend looking to this mountain-guarded, central European county for a spectacular travel or education experience in Europe. And if science and scenery aren’t for you… I would still go for the Swiss chocolate anyways.
Stephanie Sykora is a graduate from UVic, Canada. She is an exploration geologist and travel/science blogger. You can follow and read here blog at http://www.exploringthearth.com (twitter @stephsykora). She will be pursuing a MSc abroad this spring.