Some historical images from this month

This month 48 years ago…

May 1971 – Inauguration of Gargamelle

CERN’s Gargamelle bubble chamber was inaugurated on 7 May 1971. The giantess (named after the mother of Gargantua, in François Rabelais’ The Life of Gargantua and of Pantagruel) was 4.8 metres long by 2 metres in diameter, and weighed 1,000 tonnes.

 

Almost half a century later, some of the pictures showing the trails of bubbles that allowed scientists to view the tracks of the particles form part of an exhibition showcasing work by CERN’s artists-in-residence.

 

Read more about the Quantum exhibition at the Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona  (CCCB) here and more about Arts-at-CERN here You can watch a short film about the design, construction and operation of Gargamelle here and see more Gargamelle bubble chamber pictures, with some of their interpretive sketches, here.

This month 50 years ago…

April 1969 – John Adams, Director of the 300 GeV project

By 1 April 1969, John Adams was ready to take up his new role, as Director of CERN’s 300 GeV project, full-time. This photo shows him presenting plans for the new accelerator a few months earlier – you can read the minutes of the 16 January 1969 Committee of Council meeting, largely devoted to discussion of the project, here.

 

At this time it was not even clear in which country the new machine would be built. By showing that it made most financial and technological sense to build the Super Proton Synchrotron next to the existing CERN site, Adams was able to break the deadlock between member states.

This month 60 years ago…

March 1959 – CERN’s D-G strongly in favour of welcoming Soviet scientists

The first informal contacts between Soviet and CERN scientists probably took place at the Atoms for Peace conference in Geneva in September 1955. Exchange visits between scientists from CERN and the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research (JINR) were suggested in 1957, but there was little progress until N. Bogolubov of JINR raised the subject again on 4 February 1959. CERN’s director-general C. Bakker replied on 5 March that he was, in principle, strongly in favour of the idea, and he began to look into the practicalities. (See their letters here.)

 

Bakker chaired an informal gathering on International Cooperation in the Field of High Energy Physics Accelerators in September 1959. After more consultation with CERN’s member states he was able to report to Council on 1 December 1959 that "all the delegations were in favour of such exchanges provided they were reciprocal", and the Draft Proposal was approved the following day.

This month 30 years ago…

February 1989 – The LEP monorail

On 21 February 1989, CERN inaugurated its new monorail, suspended from the ceiling of the 27-kilometre Large Electron-Positron Collider tunnel.

 

The trains, all named after local villages, travelled at around 12 kilometres per hour and came in three different designs to handle different cargoes. LEP was in the second phase of construction, and sixty thousand tonnes of equipment had to be installed quickly in a very narrow space. The monorail let workers and equipment move efficiently and safely.

 

The inaugural speeches took place at different points around the tunnel and the guests, who had been warned to wrap up warmly, were treated to a ride between them on CERN’s very own metro.

This month 62 years ago…

January 1957 – CERN’s Scientific Information Service is born

In January 1957, CERN’s newly created Scientific Information Service (SIS) was planning for the year’s big challenge – moving the Library into new premises. Three of the staff are shown here at the old premises in July.

 

Until the end of 1956, CERN’s Library, translation team and public relations office all formed part of a single Information Service, but this had been split up, leaving around a dozen staff to handle “scientific documentation, publication and exchange of reports, associated ‘print shop’ activities and relations with the scientific press.” You can read the report on SIS’ first year here.

This month 88 years ago…

December 1930 - Pauli’s Neutrino letter (now in music and art!)

On 4 December 1930, Wolfgang Pauli wrote his famous letter to the ‘Dear radioactive ladies and gentlemen’ postulating a neutral particle to solve the puzzle of missing energy during beta decay. This letter forms the basis of a new work by ART(at)CREATIONS, Liebe Radioaktive Damen und Herren, featuring music composed by Petros Stergiopoulos and Oded Ben-Horin.

Pauli had to wait nearly 26 years for experimental confirmation of the neutrino. As he wrote to its discoverers, Frederick Reines and Clyde Cowan, ‘Everything comes to him who knows how to wait.’

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