For children

For children

Space and time - basic explanation

Can you imagine that there was once a time when there was no time? Sounds strange? It is!

After all, we're talking about the Big Bang in this exhibition: an enormous, explosion-like event billions of years ago in which particles (matter) and the space in which they exist were created. Time was also created in the Big Bang. Before that there was no time.

Time is part of our everyday life: some people count it or stop it, some people sleep through it or even "kill it". Many books were written about it. Did you know that you always have to use Einstein's theory of relativity when you meet friends? Time and space inevitably go together. When two people want to meet, it is no use to agree only on a meeting place or a time. You need both to really be at the same place at the same time.

And can you travel in time? Quickly jump back to yesterday afternoon, when you were playing instead of doing math homework, and do the homework before your teacher scolds you? No, unfortunately that is not possible. Time always moves in one direction only.

(Note: video is in German)

The Big Bang - basic explanation

Where do we come from? We're not talking about your hometown, but the things you are made of. You are made of skin, hair, bones, muscles, water, and so on. What are all these things made of? Chemical molecules! And what are those made of? Of atoms! And those? Out of particles. And those? Particles cannot be divided any more, but they must have originated somewhere.

Scientists say that the whole universe was created in the Big Bang almost 14 billion years ago. The whole universe was smaller than a pinhead at that time. It suddenly exploded and space, time and matter all came into existence with the Big Bang.

Even today, the universe continues to expand. You can think of the galaxies as dots on a balloon that you blow up: each galaxy a dot, the balloon the universe. The bigger you inflate the balloon, the more the dots move away from each other. Now you may wonder if there are other living beings in this huge universe: there might be! So far, we haven't discovered any, but we're still looking. But one thing we know for sure: if there are aliens, they consist of the same particles as we do.

(Note: video is in German)

Elementary particles - basic explanation

The universe is huge and very complicated. There is not only the earth or the moon or our solar system, but countless solar systems in countless galaxies. There are stars that explode or collapse and black holes that swallow everything. And there are probably even things that we don't even know about yet because we can't see them.

To understand how our universe works, we first need to know what it is made of. We also need to know how these things work together. Like if you want to play a game, you have to understand the rules first.

Unfortunately, we can't see the smallest components of matter with the naked eye or with microscopes. That's why we need particle accelerators. Scientists use them to let particles crash onto other particles in order to find out which particles exist and, above all, how these particles relate to each other because those particles follow strict rules. They found out that there are matter particles - that's what we and everything we know are made of - and messenger particles that implement the rules of the game.

In the particle world there are exactly four rules: the forces. There is the strong force that acts between tiny particles called quarks, the weak force that acts in the sun, the electromagnetic force that you know from everything that needs electricity and makes light, and gravity that keeps us on the ground and also acts between particles. By the way, the particle that transmits gravity has not been discovered yet. Maybe you'll go into science and be the one to find it?

(Note: video is in German)

Where does science happen? - basic explanation

By the way, most real scientists are normal people like you and your family. And above all, they hardly ever work alone, but always together with many colleagues, especially in particle physics and astronomy. This is very important, because on the one hand there is so much to do that one person could never do it alone. On the other hand, many people have many different ideas and are good at different things. Only together they can build huge science projects such as satellites or underground particle accelerators. Or could you alone design a space telescope, build it, test it and above all: send it into space with a rocket?

In the process, scientists from across the globe are working together in networks. Every single person plays an important role in such large-scale research experiments as those at the LHC particle accelerator in Geneva. A total of almost 20,000 people from all over the world are involved in the experiments.

Not all of them have studied physics. There are also many engineers and technicians, IT experts, people who take care of administration, safety, health, the environment, and so on and on... So there are many interesting jobs in science – also for non-scientists.

(Note: video is in German)

The end of the universe - basic explanation

Let's summarize: everything starts about 13.8 billion years ago at the Big Bang with a tiny, hot spot. Then the universe expands. Elementary particles are created. After about one second, there are protons and neutrons. After 380,000 years, atoms are formed. The first stars shine after 100 million years. 12 billion years after the Big Bang, dinosaurs roam the earth. And 200,000 years ago, Homo Sapiens finally appeared: us humans.

At the moment, the universe keeps expanding. But what will happen in the future? Three theories are most plausible: the universe stops expanding at some point and contracts into an ultra-hot spot – just like the Big Bang. It eventually ends in one massive black hole. This end is called the "Big Crunch".

The universe continues to expand infinitely, getting darker and colder and approaching absolute zero. This end is called the "Big Freeze".

The universe expands faster and faster and finally rips apart in an explosion. This end is called "Big Rip".

(Note: video is in German)