CMS welcomes 112-year-old mascot of Imperial College London

Guest post by Stephanie Hills. A version of this post will appear in the STFC's UK News from CERN.


Bo visiting the CMS experimental site at Point 5, seen here 100 metres above the CMS detector, with former CMS Spokesperson Jim Virdee (front row, second from left) and CMS Technical Coordinator Austin Ball (front row, third from left)

 

It is not every day that CERN welcomes a 112-year-old member of its university community. Boanerges (‘Son of Thunder’) is one of the mascots of Imperial College and is looked after by volunteer students of the City and Guilds College Motor Club. Team Bo visited CERN as part of a wider tour of France and Switzerland. They were welcomed by James Devine (CERN), an Imperial College alumnus and former president of the club.

A 1902 James and Browne, Bo is thought to be one of only two remaining examples of this manufacturer. The car is in full working order – if you ignore the small pools of water and oil that accumulate beneath when he stands for any length of time! He can manage a death-defying top speed of 27 mph or 43.5 km/h and turns heads wherever he goes. Bo is completing most of the tour on the back of a trailer with excursions in selected locations such as a drive along the shore of Lake Geneva.

Of course, a car this age requires constant maintenance, and European tours don’t happen every year; James recalled that he “inherited the car in a thousand pieces”. For the current tour, the support vehicle was packed with tool boxes, spares, greasy rags, and copious amounts of Brasso.

Back in 1902, Bo was the epitome of engineering excellence, and as part of the visit to CERN, it was important to introduce him to a modern day equivalent, the CMS Experiment. Petrolheads Austin Ball (CERN) and Jim Virdee (Imperial) were on hand to make the introductions, and Austin gave Team Bo (minus Bo himself) an impromptu underground tour of the experiment.

Valued at £250K, only the club’s president is insured to drive Bo. “He’s a bit of a handful,” said this year’s President, Sam Esgate. “Bo’s doing fine, it’s me that’s letting him down!”

Throughout Bo’s visit to CMS, a succession of technicians, security guards, engineers and physicists came to take a closer look at the car. Fortunately, that provided many extra pairs of hands when it came to helping this elderly gent back onto his trailer.

More photos from Bo’s visit to CERN:

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