Pix Mix

I just remembered that while I was at CERN last week I took a few crummy pics with my phone, so I thought I’d stick them on here.

This first one is actually of the control room of the ATLAS experiment, but it looked to me rather like the inside of a betting shop.

These two were taken in the facility where they test the magnets for the Large Hadron Collider. Each section of superconducting thingummyjig is about 10 metres long; the whole thing is 27km long so that’s a lot of sections! Although the magnets carry a huge current – 10,000 Amps – since they’re superconducting they have no resistance and therefore dissipate no power. However, they have to be kept at liquid helium temperatures, which does require quite a lot of power.

I like the sign on the second one: RISK OF LIQUID AIR.

Finally, here’s the most important one. While I am away Columbo is looked after by a lady called Helen who sends me daily updates. Here is Columbo in a characteristic pose.

Feed me. Feed me NOW!

10 Responses to “Pix Mix”

  1. CTReader Says:

    Columbo has the same look that my cat has in this situation. I am convinced that the level in the kibble bowl doesn’t mean anything to them; it’s whether or not there is fresh kibble on top!

    In a previous lifetime I worked for a manufacturer of precision instruments that had a liquid air plant. One day, a worker was delivering a 10 liter dewar of liquid air to the test stand. This was a 30 inch diameter by 5 foot high affair on 4 casters being pushed through the hallways of the engineering department. The casters failed to negotiate the overlooked power cord of the floor polisher and the dewar wound up on its side with the contents pouring out. Luckily, no one was injured, but all of the floor tiles that were inundated were cleanly detached from the underlying concrete. The building maintenance department thought that this had real possibilities, but safety issues intervened. Had the stuff not been as dangerous to living tissue, I wonder what other applications might have been discovered.

  2. Re: We use it to scare schoolchildren into studying physics.

  3. Anton Garrett Says:

    Liquid nitrogen in large amounts really is dangerous: gas evaporating from it can displace air and reduce oxygen levels, and you can easily end up unconscious or worse. But it’s fun playing with thermos flasks of the stuff – just as well that Heath and Safety didn’t know everything that went on. (To get away from H&S restrictions, one man I know set up his PhD experiment at home rather than in his university, even though it was clearly safe. And I could name a university department where H&S were at one point intending to flash-test PCs for safety; fried chips anyone?)

  4. Anton Garrett Says:

    “This first one is actually of the control room of the ATLAS experiment, but it looked to me rather like the inside of a betting shop.”

    Yeah, they’re betting on what will go wrong next, and whether they’ll find the Higgs boson. (Personally I think Columbo has a better chance.)

    If Phillip is reading this: When is/was that Bach unaccompanied violin concert?


  5. “If Phillip is reading this: When is/was that Bach unaccompanied violin concert?”

    Tuesday and Wednesday of next week; partitas on one day and sonatas on the other.


    On Saturday, I had the pleasure of a front-row seat for Ton Koopman and Albrecht Mayer:

    Bach: Sinfonia aus der Kantate “Am Abend aber desselbigen Sabbats” BWV 42
    Händel: Konzert für Oboe d’amore “Verdi prati”
    Händel: Feuerwerksmusik
    Bach: Konzert für Oboe d’amore A-Dur BWV 1055
    Mozart: Sinfonie g-Moll KV 183

    The orchestra was provided by the radio orchestra of the Hesse broadcasting system (and the concert was at their studios in Frankfurt). There were two performances, Friday and Saturday. I believe the Friday one was broadcast live and will also be broadcast again this week. Before the concert there was a 30-minute interview with Mayer and Koopman. Mayer is often a guest on chat shows in Germany. He now sports a full beard, as he says because his wife prefers it!

  6. Anton Garrett Says:

    That would have been glorious. I hope you enjoy the concert next week.

  7. “That would have been glorious. I hope you enjoy the concert next week.”


    It’s been a while since I last heard Bach’s stuff for solo violin live. I remember exactly when it was: the day the Berlin wall came down (or, more exactly, the day the borders were opened (which was actually a goof on the part of the spokesman, but the situation soon got out of hand and there was no turning back)). It was in the Church of St. Michael in Hamburg (where C.P.E. Bach was employed, as the successor of Telemann), not far from clubs where the Beatles learned their craft. These, of course, are on the Reeperbahn and its side streets, the heart of the red-light district in Germany. This was one of the main attractions for the visitors from East Germany. When I went into the concert, it was a normal day. After the concert, while walking to the underground train station, I saw the Reeperbahn was lined with Trabis. Quite a sight, bringing “from the sublime to the ridiculous” to mind (the ridiculous, of course, being neither the Trabis nor the open border, but rather the first destination of many of the travelers).

  8. Anton Garrett Says:

    If nothing else, this suggests that the East Germans could in fact afford to pay the Western going rate. But I don’t believe there was no prostitution in the German “Democratic” Republic…

    Have you seen “Das Versprechen” [The Promise] by Margarethe von Trotta, a film about a courting couple who get separated the night the Berlin Wall goes up, and who then conduct a complex and strained relationship all the way through to Reunification (with an ambiguous ending). One of them is an astrophysicist, moreover. It is very moving and one of my favourite films.


  9. Or should that be the Western “coming rate”? 🙂

    I don’t think it was a matter of paying so much as just having a look around.

    Like most places where it is forbidden, there was some illegal prostitution in East Germany. Also, the Stasi made use of prostitutes to spy on western businessmen etc. In West Germany, by contrast, it has been legal for several decades, and for several years now is no longer considered to be “sittenwidrig” (very rough translation: immoral). It used to be legal (not just tolerated, but legal) though “officially frowned upon” which had various practical consequences. Now it is more or less a normal job with the exception that the unemployment agency will not suggest to the unemployed to work as a prostitute (whether or not they technically COULD is open to debate) nor, I believe, will it recruit new employees for brothels.

    I don’t recall having seen the film you mention.

  10. […] TelePolis, KosmoLogs 10., ScienceBlogs 12.3.2010. Auch ein LHC-Paper mit arg vielen Autoren, Impressionen und humoristische und künstlerische Aspekte des […]

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