Faculty expertise and lectures

In addition to providing commentary throughout your trip, your Cornell CAU faculty expert, Jim Alexander, will deliver four lectures during the tour on the following topics:

  • Elementary Particle Physics: What it is and How it Evolved
  • Einstein and his Annus Mirabilis, with Focus on the Theory of Special Relativity
  • History of CERN and Overview of How Accelerators, Detectors, and Large Collaborations Work
  • Current Issues and Future Directions in Elementary Particle Physics

Day One: Saturday, August 27

Depart the U.S.

Medical note regarding the CERN tour: Safety rules exclude pregnant women, children under 10 years of age, people who have undergone chemotherapy, and persons with pacemakers or other active medical implants from the underground tours of the LHC and NA62 experiment. Note that unusual special actions at CERN can cancel any underground visits at the last moment.

Day Two: Sunday, August 28

Fraumünster Church


Arrive at Zürich International Airport and transfer to the Glockenhof hotel. For travelers arriving early, there are optional afternoon excursions by train to the summit of Uetliberg for panoramic views of Zürich and the lake 1500 feet below, and by foot through Old Town’s network of cobbled streets, along the banks of the River Limmat, including a stop at the Fraumünster Church to admire the vibrant artistry of Chagall’s stained glass windows that illuminate the choir in primary colors. Or you may choose to spend the afternoon at leisure to relax and recover from jet lag. This evening, meet fellow travelers at a welcome reception at the hotel.

Hotel Glockenhof (Reception)

Day Three: Monday, August 29

Einstein Museum


Following breakfast, gather in a private room at the hotel for a welcome orientation and first lecture, followed by a specially arranged visit to the Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI), the largest Swiss national multidisciplinary research center. After lunch at the PSI, visit the Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) campus for panoramic views of Zürich and to learn about Albert Einstein at the university where he studied and taught—and whose faculty include 20 more Nobel laureates. The evening is at leisure to delight independently in one of Zürich’s many fine restaurants.

Hotel Glockenhof (Breakfast, Lunch)

Day Four: Tuesday, August 30

Zytglogge Tower


This morning tour the Kunsthaus art museum to see its comprehensive collection of Swiss art and other European masterpieces by the likes of Manet, Magritte, Matisse, Mondrian, Monet, and Munch— merely confining ourselves to the letter M! From there we depart Zürich for Bern, where we’ll enjoy traditional Swiss fare at a favorite restaurant, followed by a refreshing walking tour of the best—preserved historic town center in Switzerland—a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Visit the Einstein House, where Albert Einstein lived while working as a patent examiner and had his miracle year of 1905 when he published four groundbreaking papers on the photoelectric effect, Brownian motion, the special theory of relativity, and the equivalence of mass and energy. And tour the Einstein Museum, which features fascinating insights and artifacts pertaining to both his work and personal life. Check in at our luxury hotel, where we’ll continue our lecture series, followed by dinner together at another restaurant gem.

Hotel Allegro (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)

Day Five: Wednesday, August 31



In the morning—following the third installment in our fascinating lecture series—depart for Geneva through the craggy mountain and verdant lowland scenery of the Gruyère district, famous for its cheese. Stroll the charming village of Gruyères along the cobblestone street that slopes down from the impressive hilltop castle, past whitewashed shops decorated with flower boxes, flags and hanging wrought iron signs, and savor a traditional raclette luncheon. Arriving in Geneva, tour the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Museum to learn how local businessman Henri Dunant, shocked to see wounded soldiers left to fend for themselves, inspired a local charity to begin providing relief—identifying themselves with inverted Swiss flags—and then the Swiss parliament to convene international conferences culminating in the Geneva Conventions. Dunant shared the first Nobel Peace Prize in 1901. Check in to our hotel just steps from the historic Quai du MontBlanc lakeside promenade, and from this central location enjoy an evening at leisure to explore on your own.

Hotel Bristol (Breakfast, Lunch)

Day Six: Thursday, September 1

Bodmer Library and Museum


View rare and antiquated scientific instruments together with methods and discoveries from the 17th to the 19th centuries at the Musée d’Histoire des Sciences housed in Villa Bartholoni, one of Geneva’s most beautiful neoclassical buildings. After lunch at one of Geneva’s fine restaurants, choose between an afternoon at leisure or optional excursions, including a boat tour and walking tour of Old Town, and a visit to the Bodmer Library and Museum in the company of our European Studies librarian, Sarah How. Martin Bodmer inherited a large fortune and was a scholar, bibliophile, and collector. During World War II, he worked with the Red Cross to get books into the hands of prisoners of war, and served as the vice president of the Red Cross after the war. His collection in the refined suburb of Cologny includes some of the oldest copies of the New Testament, a Gutenberg Bible, a First Folio of Shakespeare, and a copy of Newton’s Principia owned by Leibniz. The final lecture of our series sets up tomorrow’s visit to CERN, then the remainder of the evening is again free to explore Geneva on your own.

Hotel Bristol (Breakfast, Lunch)

Day Seven: Friday, September 2

Compact Muon Solenoid, CERN


This morning, head to CERN (the European Organization for Nuclear Research), the world’s largest particle physics laboratory and one of the most sophisticated centers of scientific research. Special arrangements have been made for private, guided tours and exclusive behind-the-scenes presentations of CERN. The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is the most powerful instrument ever built to investigate the properties of particles. We will visit with physicists who are part of the Compact Muon Solenoid (CMS) collaboration and tour the CMS control room, staging area, and visitor center. An up-close exploration of the CMS detector, which uses a huge solenoid magnet to bend the paths of particles from collisions in the LHC, may be available depending upon COVID visitor policies and the experimental schedule at the time of our visit. In the North Area of the Super Proton Synchrotron (SPS) particle accelerator, we’ll tour the NA62 experiment, which receives two beams from the SPS and conducts precision tests of the Standard Model of particle physics by studying the decays of charged kaons! After a vigorous discussion of the Standard Model over lunch at the CERN cafeteria, there will be time to explore the Visitor Center on your own. In the evening, savor reminiscences of all our adventures in Switzerland over our farewell dinner.

Hotel Bristol (Breakfast, Lunch)

Day Eight: Friday, September 3


Depart Switzerland

Check out of the hotel and transfer to Geneva International Airport for return flights to the U.S.

Hotel Bristol (Breakfast)