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CERN Raps It Up…Updated

March 10, 2010

I was in the middle of posting about BBC’s report that the Large Hadron Collider at the CERN lab in Geneva will be shutting down for a year, due to building flaws and safety concerns according to CERN officials, when I came across the pure awesomeness above. What a great way to bring everybody closer to the most complex of scientific experiments. The scientifically accurate, CERN-sponsored jamming rap session was written and rapped by the then-press office-employee Kate McAlpine or “alpinekat” and tuned by Will Barras. The footage features dancers who plead anonymity and a few of the lab’s own bewildered engineers.  I beg you not to miss it, and read on for the updated news blip and photos.

The largest particle accelerator in the world–a.k.a atom smasher–aims to collide particles at near-light speed in order to observe the elusive Higgs particle and recreate the conditions of the Big Bang to gain insights into how the universe came into being billions of years ago.

Buried 100 meters below ground, the machine will close at the end of 2011 for up to a year to make the 27km tunnel safe for proton collisions planned at twice the current level, and to avoid another breakdown like the one suffered in 2008 in which the protective copper sheaths were damaged. The director, Dr Myers said: “It’s something that, with a lot more resources and with a lot more manpower and quality control, possibly could have been avoided but I have difficulty in thinking that this is something that was a design error. With a machine like the LHC, you only build one and you only build it once.” -BBC report


Brian Cox: BBC’s LHC story is “a pile of merde, as we say at CERN”

The Times Online spoke to CERN physicist Professor Brian Cox (from the BBC series Wonders of the Solar System) who criticised BBC for its innacurate report:

“The story is true enough (though “design faults” is a bit strong), but it isn’t really news. CERN has long been planning an engineering refit to the Big Bang machine before ramping it up to 7 TeV, but this was originally scheduled for the coming winter rather than the one after. At the beginning of February, it announced that it would actually extend the physics run through until December 2011, before shutting the accelerator down for a year. The only real delay here has been to the reporting of the story.”

Exasperated by the spread of the misleading story, he tweeted: “For the very last time – the #lhc story is a pile of merde, as we say at CERN. Scheduled maintenance stops are not bloody news !”

As the article closes, “Particle accelerators are regularly shut down for re-engineering. They are huge, complex instruments, and it’s just impossible to run them full-time like a domestic boiler. It’s operating perfectly well right now, and it should continue to do so for almost two years — a very long period of time for an atom-smasher of any sort, let alone the most powerful ever built.”

Definitely good news.


Here’s a few images from the CERN archive:

View of CASTOR/TOTEM mounted inside CMS detector and view of the beam pipe.

This computer-generated image shows the location of the 27-km LHC tunnel (in blue) on the Swiss-France border. The four main experiments (ALICE, ATLAS, CMS, and LHCb) are located in underground caverns connected to the surface by 50 m to 150 m pits. Part of the pre-acceleration chain is shown in grey.

Installation of the CMS silicon tracking detector was successfully completed on 18 December 2007

CERN’s Globe of Science and Innovation exhibition centre and the nearby Meyrin site are seen from the air. The surface buildings which provide access and support for the ATLAS experiment, one of four experiments on the LHC, can also be seen on the right. The dome was designed by Thomas Büchi and Hervé Dessimoz.

All photos ©CERN Geneva

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