Travel

Berlin

Took the train from Geneva to Berlin. I did somewhat the reverse 30+ years ago going from Munich to Geneva back when the trains were slower and there were dining cars with table clothes and silverware. The wide seats facing each other would fold down to make a bed and the seats could be walled off by a sliding door and curtains. Instant cabin. Now things are mod and digital. Newer is not always better.

Anyway, arrived in Berlin—a city I’ve never visited. I wanted to see all of the usual things: Check Point Charlie, the Brandenburg Gate, the Reichstag, etc. Plenty of Cold War relics about, including the current Russian Embassy. 

It’s taking a while figuring out the S Bahn and the U Bahn. I don’t speak any German so, following the maps, the train stops, the right ticket to buy is mysterious, but becoming less so. I also managed to download some apps that allow me to rent an electric bike or scooter. I went with the bike first, and wandered through the vast, heavily wooded Berlin park called Tiergarten. 

Teufelsberg: Cold War listening post in western Berlin
Travel

Annecy, France

I was supposed to visit this small French town during a GVN virology conference, but I left the foundation before the meeting and so missed the visit. Today, I finally made it to Annecy. Well worth the wait.

The town was once a part of Geneva, but given a thousand years of Europe’s history in which borders, countries, and peoples were rearranged, this can’t be a surprise. The town sits on a beautiful blue-green lake, which backs up to an impressive barrier of mountains and escarpments. 

Travel

CERN

Interesting tour of CERN. You can go into the Atlas detector building, but there’s no going down to the Hadron collider itself. It’s running now (April thru November) and there’s too much radiation. Guess that’s why it’s buried 100 meters down. The collider is 27 kilometers in diameter and there’s a proposal on the table to build another one to100 kilometers. 

You can’t go down, but you can bicycle around the circumference of the collider tunnel, riding from Switzerland to France and back again, but parts of the path are rough and it’s a long ride. It’s also a reminder that as you pedal through fields and woods and pass by working farms, deep under your wheels are mysterious activities pushing the boundaries of science and technology. 

An early accelerator at CERN

Counting Higgs Bosons

High energy physics surrounded by bucolic fields