Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Day 11- Wednesday... St. Gallen, Switzerland

Well our time in the Munich area has come to a close, today we make our way to Switzerland! We began our journey to St. Gallen, Switzerland to stop at the Swiss Milling School. The Swiss Milling School is located in the heart of St. Gallen, which is located between Lake Constance (which was beautiful) and the mountains of the Appenzell Alps, where Mount Santis, the tallest is located. At this point the group had lunch together, homemade pizza made by the baker of the test lab for the school and Buhler. The pizza was delicious along with a traditional Austrian pastry for dessert. A few members of the group, Kyle, Adrian, Sarah G, Dr. Madl and I headed west to the Zurich area to visit the Paul Scherrer Institute. PSI is a federal funded research facility that focuses on Matter and Materials, Human Health and Energy and the Environment. When the institute opened research was focused on nuclear science and physics research but has since broadened their research focus. We were given a short presentation of the highlights of the institute and then headed out to visit a few research labs. PSI houses the Swiss Light Source Synchrotron used as an electron accelerator used to produce x-rays to determine the structure and shape of materials, down to the nanometer size range. They also have a Spallation Neutron Source and a proton accelerator used for proton therapy, that has been found to be very effective for treating deep seeded tumors in human patients. We weren't able to see the synchrotron or various particle accelerators but we were able to see a full-scale solar concentrator that is used to conduct very high temperature chemical reactions. The solar concentrator is similar to a large conical mirror that works by focusing the sunlight into a small focal point. Enough solar energy can be concentrated to generate temperatures in excess of 3,000 degrees Celsius! At these temperatures, researchers were able to make lime and melt concrete blocks! It was indeed a very interesting facility to visit!

K-State in the house!!

Learning about fuel cells

Research bay

A fuel cell up close

How a fuel cell powers your car

Now that's a capacitor

Pellets made from grass and wood

Solar concentrator


After the visit to PSI we headed back to St. Gallen to meet up with the rest of the group for a dinner hosted by Buhler. Again, the hospitality was amazing and the restaurant picked by Buhler was amazing! I had some very delicious spatzel with chorizo, pork and a mushroom sauce followed by fresh strawberries in ice cream! After dinner, Gorges, an employee of Buhler took us out to a local bar/club. There we enjoyed a beer or two and met some locals. Well locals to the area, we meet a couple of guys from England, Germany, Switzerland and Austria that were all attending school in St. Gallen. One actually dated a girl from Kansas! And would be heading back to the states, to California, this summer to study finance at Berkeley. Small world! It was quite an adventurous night and got just a little bit better when we made our journey home! The hotel we were staying at was on the edge of St. Gallen and at the top of a never-ending hill! The hotel was also considered to be a youth hostel, so by the time we made it back the halls were filled with students, most younger than us! The sleeping arrangements were also dorm-style, a room with 2 sets of bunkbeds and a sink with the showers and toilets down the hall. Good thing I brought flip-flops! The shower/bathroom was even more fun with the automatic, motion detector lighting that couldn't detect when you were in the shower. Nothing like waving your arm out the shower door every 2 minutes to get the lights to turn back on! It was an adventure to say the least!lol
Church of St. Gallen

The sights on the way to dinner in St. Gallen

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