Some historical images from this month

This month 50 years ago…

September 1968 – Inauguration of the European Physical Society

“The formation of the European Physical Society with such a wide membership is a further demonstration of the determination of scientists to collaborate as closely as possible in order to make their positive contribution to the strength of European cultural unity.”

 

So said Gilberto Bernardini in his inaugural address on 26 September 1968. But it all started with a friendly dinner party in Bologna three years earlier; read Bernardini’s 18 January 1966 letter to Leon Van Hove here.

 

More information about the history of EPS here

More about the inauguration ceremony here

This photo shows Bernardini enrolling as a member of EPS; see more photos of the inauguration ceremony here

This month 56 years ago…

August 1962 - ‘May I have a look around?’

During the summer of 1962, the CERN Photo Club and Public Information Department organized a photographic competition on the theme, ‘How a visitor sees CERN’.

 

E. Fischer scooped a prize with an excellent colour print of the tall, white Administration building standing out against a clear blue sky. Marinus van Gulik took another approach, and another prize, with a series of photos of his son. You can see some of them in the December 1962 CERN Courier. His pictures also featured the Administration building or, as he called it, CERN’s third machine, the paper accelerator.

This month 56 years ago…

July 1962 – CERN to America, via Telstar

At CERN, in July 1962, 60 hours of feverish preparation culminated in 60 seconds of history-making television. On the evening of 23 July, some two hundred million viewers in Europe and North America had a short glimpse of CERN at work during the first direct transmission relaying electromagnetic waves from Europe to the USA via an artificial satellite.

 

Telstar was an international collaboration that included NASA, AT&T, Bell Labs (who carried out the construction work) and the French and British national post offices. Read more in the CERN Courier, including why Switzerland chose to devote its one minute of allotted airtime to our laboratory; learn more about Telstar from the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum.

This month 45 years ago…

June 1973 – All hands to the pumps!

On 12 June 1973, staff at Geneva airport measured winds gusting up to 47 knots. A few kilometres away, where CERN lay right in the path of the storm, it was even worse. Torrential rain and hail devastated neighbouring vineyards and caused havoc inside the laboratory. Roads turned to rivers and buildings to swimming pools. The Proton Synchrotron was shut down as water in the basement rose to 1.80 metres.

 

Muddy water forced up from the drains made matters worse, but all staff mucked in to help. When the floods receded, everything had to be hosed down (treatment not usually recommended for electrical equipment!) and the repair gangs and cleaners got on with the slow job of recovery. See more pictures and a link to the CERN Courier article here.

This month 47 years ago…

May 1971 – Inauguration of Gargamelle

CERN’s Gargamelle bubble chamber was 4.8 metres long by 2 metres in diameter, weighed 1,000 tonnes, and held nearly 12 cubic metres of heavy-liquid Freon. It was inaugurated on 7 May 1971 with a day of speeches, visits and lunch for the journalists and other guests. This short film, made a few months earlier, describes the design, construction and operation of the giantess.  

 

Early results from Gargamelle provided crucial evidence for the existence of quarks, and in July 1973 the Gargamelle collaboration presented the first direct evidence of the weak neutral current. The pictures that made the tracks of particles visible as trails of bubbles, yielding these scientific results, are also extremely beautiful. The one shown dates from 1978; you can see more, and some of their interpretive sketches, here.

This month 90 years ago…

April 1928 – Pauli in Zurich: contradict me!

Wolfgang Pauli took up his duties as professor in Zurich at the end of April 1928. Before accepting the post he had insisted on the appointment of an assistant, and wrote to Ralph Kronig on 22 November, ‘I would like to ask you, for the moment quite tentatively, if in principle you would agree to accept this position … your task would be:

1. Every time I say something, to contradict me with detailed arguments.

2. To animate somewhat the scientific activity with modern ideas.

 

Looking back (this photo dates from 1955), Kronig considered his time in Zurich, ‘not only as one of the most instructive, but also as one of the most exhilarating periods’ of his life. He added, ‘One of my tasks, not agreed upon beforehand, was to watch out that Pauli should limit his consumption of ice cream at Sprüngli’s Konditorei at the Paradeplatz where we often went in the afternoon.'

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