Picture it: more than 200 volunteers, several tiring weeks of preparations, over 4500 visitors and lots of happy faces!
Happy birthday CERN!
2014 marks a special occasion for CERN: its 60th anniversary. To celebrate, CMS opened our doors to our neighbours for an entire weekend (24 and 25 May) and the response thrilled us.
Even though French was the major language, one could really feel the international flavour while entering the “grouping tent”, where all visitors gathered before being assigned guides for their underground visit. A loud voice announced from time to time: “Italiano!”, “Español!”… Visitors were delighted by these personalised tours. Thanks to the clockwork-like flow control by the crowd marshals, over 4500 people visited the underground cavern of the CMS Experiment to walk around the detector and learn more about CERN, the LHC and particle physics. One of our visitors remarked: “I was really impressed of our guide. I understand pretty much everything about the LHC.”
Underground visits were complemented by a variety of activities on the surface. Two hands-on workshops in particular drew kids of all ages (yes, including senior citizens!). In the Kapla workshop, young architects carefully arranged wooden blocks to learn about the precision and skill needed to build large machines such as the LHC or the CMS detector. Indeed, some groups worked on recreating a model of CMS using these Kapla blocks. The LEGO workshop, on the other hand, was a bit of a brain teaser to get people to think about what impressed them the most during their visit underground. It was an opportunity to share their CMS experience with others using LEGO bricks. Among these impressions, the theme of collaboration was a recurring one:
“… so many people from all over the world are working together to better understand the universe.”
“So many nations work together without politics for the advancement of science.”
“The amount of passionate, committed people working together. A lifetime could be spent just learning one piece of the puzzle.”
Enthusiastic volunteers, not just from CMS but all of CERN, conducted the surface activities. Members of CERN's Radio Protection division were present to address any questions the visitors had about on-site radiological safety. An art exhibition, inspired by CMS and particle physics and with the participation from local schools, brought two distinct worlds together. The principles of acceleration and converting energy into matter were demonstrated in an interactive game of Proton Football, while experts on superconductivity showed how the phenomenon is used both in daily life and in scientific research. Other hands-on sessions by the CERN robotics team and the heavy machinery team had long queues of eager participants. Crowds also gathered to watch a cryogenics show that culminated in the production (and tasting!) of instant strawberry ice-cream.
The festivities of the weekend spilled over onto Monday, when around 700 young students from the local schools, aged 9 to 18, were given special access to the underground cavern.
Once more we have learned that many people willingly give up their free time for the benefit of others. For many of us it was a long but rewarding weekend, and for our visitors a unique occasion for “the discovery of the incredible site”.
Big thanks go from the CMS Organisation Team to the volunteers and support teams from CERN and Point 5 for devoting their time to making the event a memorable one. We wouldn’t have made it without you!
Nothing tells a story like a great image. Feel free to consult the gallery with all photos from the weekend.