or What I did at CERN all those moments (months) ago.
I went to CERN in September (as noted below), with Mark Boland from our ‘baby’ synchrotron and Roger Rassool, from the Melbourne Uni Physics Department. And what did I do? I sat in the CERN cafe for a few days getting free Internet access. I listened to people talking about what to spend this years 90 million budget on. I drank coffee. I listened to other people complaining that they had just suffered huge budget cuts (in other words, it’s just the same as in any organization (at least on some levels)). I also talked to a few physicists, a documentary maker and curator, and a public relations officer. I had discussions with some of the physicists about art and science, based on questions given to me by my Art vs Science students at the Victorian College of the Arts’ Centre for Ideas (and videoed the physicists’ remarks, to play back to the students). I told this to the public relations officer, who told me I was not allowed to video anything unless their legal department approved it first. I told this to the documentary maker who laughed and said that it’s just the same as in any organization.
Unlike my first visit to CERN, where we were taken right into the heart of the Large Hadron Collider (see youtube video and filter article), I did not get to see any of the experimental setups. I had hoped to see the test facility for CLIC (the Compact LInear Collider) the even bigger ‘sequel’ to the LHC, currently being built. However, as it was actually working at that point, nobody could go and see it (as there’s dangerous radiation shooting out of it). So the most exciting part of my CERN excursion was getting lost in the labyrinthine hallways of the scientists offices one evening when we were trying to find our way out. I did capture some of this on video, to which I have added the sound recording of some of my discussion with one of the chief scientists’ response to the VCA students’ questions about whether the LHC could be used to make music and dance choreography with. And there’s also a few cosmic particles thrown in there too (courtesy of the CERN visitor centre cosmic particle detector / viewer)
Another interesting moment during my CERN experience was a dream I had there. I was working in an experimental accelerator lab with some of the synchrotron scientists, then we were wandering the hallways which seemed to be folding back on themselves. We became lost within the complex, until we found an airlock. We went through and came out in some infernal burning landscape filled with warring armies of Hinduesque deities. “Oh no!” I exclaimed. “We’ve opened a doorway into another dimension!” (and then, in the tradition of so many bad stories (and movies), I woke up)