Some historical images from this month

This month 56 years ago…

November 1962 - CERN’s first technical training course

Setting up CERN’s new technical training courses raised important questions. How far was it CERN’s job to provide this sort of education? Could anyone be persuaded to teach classes when they were already too busy with own work? Would they be any good at it, since most were more used to presenting conference papers and academic lectures?

 

The training had been requested by CERN’s machine operators, workshop staff and laboratory assistants, and 279 people signed up in the first year. The courses, which included practical demonstrations and exercises, proved very popular and were extended to provide staff with specialist knowledge they could not easily get elsewhere and keep them up to date with modern techniques.

 

Read more in the December 1962 CERN Courier,

in the June 1962 report to the CERN Council

or in this overview (in French) from 1 June 1967.

This month 83 years ago…

October 1935 - The first Journal of Jocular physics

The traditional Festschrift was abandoned for Niels Bohr’s 50th birthday, lest he should ‘feel it as his duty to read the contents and even try to learn something.’ Instead, he received the Journal of Jocular Physics.

 

Future Director-General of CERN, Viki Weisskopf, was a major contributor. His ‘Komplementäre Philosophie des Witzes’ (Complementary Philosophy of Jokes) maintained that humour held a curved mirror to truth, giving a distorted but illuminating insight that challenged our comfortable assumptions in much the same way as one of key tenets of quantum mechanics, complementarity.

 

Published by the Institute of Theoretical Physics (now the Niels Bohr Institute), the spoof journal contained articles in German, Danish, English, French and Japanese and espoused an attitude of ‘hopeful pessimism and serene preparedness’. Sadly, with Europe moving towards World War 2, contributions from G. Gamow, O. Klein (echoing a bellicose speech by Mussolini) and L. Rosenfeld were omitted, as ‘the possibility of misinterpretation in a political and therefore, not purely jocular sense could not be entirely excluded.’

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.

Pages

You are here