Celebrating start-up

13 October 2008

Peter Jenni welcomes collaborators and announces the programme (courtesy of Jim Shank)

Nine hundred fifty people filled the large hall of building SMA 18 for the festivities on October 4th, the ATLAS Start-up Event. All people entering the building could not miss Katharine Leney and the old car she and her boyfriend will drive to Mali to raise money for Malian charities. They collected nearly 1900 CHF in donations from people who wrote messages on the car.

Peter Jenni, standing in since Kerstin Jon-And was ill, welcomed the attendees.  They continued to filter in through the evening, arriving by car or the unusual shuttles, whose interiors struck a strange balance between tour bus and limousine.

Peter was master of ceremonies, introducing each of the speakers. Following Jos Engelen’s address, he recounted the historical milestones leading to ATLAS and the LHC. Klaus Pretzl discussed the early years of ATLAS, claiming that Peter had to search many retirement homes before finding someone like him who could remember about those early days. Civil engineer John Osborne took the floor, describing the challenges of excavating the cavern and showing a film of the process that captured everyone’s attention.

Marzio Nessi covered the building of the detector as a “ship in a bottle”, Norman McCubbin discussed software challenges, and representatives from Russia, North America, South America, and Asia pointed up international contributions to ATLAS. Monica Dunford, former US LHC blogger, spoke animatedly of ATLAS’s top three virtues, and Fabiola Gianotti closed by laying out the physics that the collaboration hopes to discover.

The Mozart String Quintet, including SCT Project Leader Pippa Wells, played during two of the breaks between talks. The five musicians are all members of the Orchestre Symphonique Genevois, which will soon perform in Victoria Hall in Geneva.

Collaborators filled most of the chairs in front of the stage, arranged auditorium-style, during the 3.5 hours of lectures. Meanwhile, people chatting at the tables in the back of the room were occasionally shushed like naughty school children. Near the popcorn machine, a play area with toys was set up for the real children.

Following the talks, Peter passed the microphone to the entertainment MC, Steve Goldfarb, who announced the winners of the Big Bang Cocktail recipe contest – our own Ceri Perkins tied with Charlotte Potter-Landua and Chris Thomas. Volunteers served up Chris and Charlotte’s concoction, a bright blue liquid with a powerful kick that tasted of coconut. Attendees were challenged to guess the ingredients, and a group of anonymous post-docs and PhD students deduced that it was composed of Malibu and mouthwash. Only one of those ingredients is correct.

All attendees were entered in a tombola, offering prizes in three drawings through the night. The prizes ranged from cook books to plane tickets, all thanks to the solicitation work done by Christine Demirdjian from the secretariat.

The evening entertainment opened with Henk Tiecke’s barrel organ, built from left-over MDT tubes. Peter gave the crank a few turns, and the jaunty tune echoed in the building to smiles from the audience. 

The first band of the night, the Road Side Poppies, ushered in the beginning of dinner as baguettes appeared on the tables, passed out by much appreciated volunteers. Collaborators lined up for the buffet-style three-course meal.

The CERN improvisation team performed three times through the evening, breaking up the many musical talents showcased on stage.

We don’t often hear banjo music here on the Swiss-French border, but Country Luke and the Moose brought Rocky Top Tennessee to CERN. The Geneva Scottish Dance club, led by David Quarrie, brought the Highlands as well, calling no less than twenty couples to the floor for an impromptu ceilidh. Fabiola was among the dancers, circling and spinning on the floor in front of the stage to “Scotland the Brave”.

Collaborators dance the ceilidh (pronounced "kay-lee", those crazy Gaels) (courtesy of Doris Burckhart)

Les Horribles Cernettes raised the roof with favourites like “Big Bang” and “Collider”. Couples even slow-danced to “Microwave Love”. They were joined at the end by…well, me and a host of dancers for the Large Hadron Rap. Francois Butin and Franck Bais, who had eyed the rap filming in ATLAS with crossed arms, danced on stage with helmets on and lamps illuminated.

By this time it was getting quite late, but even as the night crossed into Sunday, an enthusiastic crowd of 80 or so collaborators danced to the Cannettes Blues Band, featuring Steve Goldfarb and Connie Potter. Closing the show, despite the colds Kirill Egorov and his wife were fighting, Crowd Control rocked the building until after two a.m. 

This was a massive event, for which many people did a massive amount of work.

The organisational committee: Markus Nordberg, Peter Jenni, Claudia Oliveira, Francois Butin, Helfried Burckhart, Silvano de Gennaro, Patrick Fassnacht, Manuela Cirilli, and Connie Potter

Unofficial organisers include: Christine Demirdjian, Kate Richardson, Claire Gibon, Petya Todorova Lilova, Dino di Paoli, Franck Bais, and Chris Thomas

And of course, volunteers: Lashkar Kashif, Martin Woudstra, Xabier Anduaga, Gancho Dimitrov, Emil Obreshkov, Denver Whittington, Fernando Savier, Rosy Nikolaidou, Isabel Pedraza, Heather Gray, Charlotte Potter-Landua, Thomas Potter-Landua, Beatrice Potter-Landua, Bernard Duthion, Claude Duthion, Roger Barton, Mireille Prost, Neal Hartman, Andre Pierre Olivier, Ken Smith, Steve Goldfarb

A big thanks to all the organisers and volunteers!


Katie McAlpine

ATLAS e-News

And now for the drink recipes

The truth about Chris and Charlotte’s Blue Big Bang:
Bacardi Rum
Blue Curacao
A slice of lemon
crushed ice

Ceri’s sadly absent Pink Big Bang:
2 shots gin
1 shot elderflower liqueur
2 shots guava juice
3 fine slices of root ginger
1 teaspoon sugar
Juice of 1 lime
Ginger beer