King Albert II of Belgium (centre) visited CERN on 19 February. He toured the CMS experiment with Tijinder Virdee (left), the CMS spokesperson, and Denis Favart (right), of the Université Catholique de Louvain. Lyn Evans, the LHC project leader, and Karel Cornelis, of CERN's Beams Department, provided a brief introduction to the particle collider. The king also signed the CERN guest book and met several Belgian scientists.

Italian minister for foreign affairs Franco Frattini(centre) visited CERN on 29 January. After a tour of the ATLAS experiment he attended a presentation on the four major LHC experiments, given by the director-general, Rolf-Dieter Heuer. He also met eminent Italian scientists at CERN, including Nobel Laureate Carlo Rubbia (right), Antonino Zichichi of the INFN and University of Bologna (second left), and CERN's director of research and scientific computing Sergio Bertolucci (far left).

Nguyen Thien Nhan, Vietnamese deputy prime minister and minister of education and training (centre), toured the ATLAS experimental cavern during a visit to CERN on 3 February. He was also accompanied by Peter Jenni (left), ATLAS spokesperson, and John Ellis (right), adviser to CERN's director- general on relations with non-member states.

Actors Tom Hanks (centre left), Ayelet Zurer (centre right) and director Ron Howard (far right) were at CERN on 12 February to unveil to the press some select footage from their film adaptation of Dan Brown's novel Angels & Demons. A press event was held in the Globe of Science and Innovation, and journalists visited the ATLAS experiment. Also participating were LHCb physicist Tara Shears (second from left) and former spokesperson of the ATHENA antihydrogen experiment, Rolf Landua (second from right) and CERN's director of research and scientific computing Sergio Bertolucci (far left).

Pakistani students learn Grid Computing

The Khwarizmi Science Society (KSS), Pakistan's leading grass-roots science organization for promoting ideas between students, teachers, journalists and the public, held a lecture on the LHC Computing Grid at Punjab University's Physics Department on 5 January. The speaker was Ashiq Anjum, who currently works at the University of the West of England in the UK and has been associated with CERN for the past seven years.

The popular lecture was part of the KSS's International Year of Astronomy celebrations, organized under the leadership of the society's president, Saadat Anwar Siddiqi, professor at Punjab University's Centre for Solid State Physics. The goal was to introduce the concept of Grid computing and motivate young Pakistani students, budding engineers and the large national pool of computer scientists towards working in this flourishing field of computing. Punjab University, based in Lahore, is the Alma Mater of Pakistan's only Nobel Laureate, Abdus Salam, and is one of Asia's oldest and most prestigious universities.

The speaker described the computing challenges of the LHC and explained how data from the experiments are distributed through a multi-tier network of data centres, Pakistan's point of contact being the National Centre for Physics in the capital, Islamabad. The talk was concluded by a lively question-and-answer session, where, for example, Anjum explained how the Grid and its reincarnated version, "the Cloud", could help Pakistan and the developing world in its problems concerning computational drug design, alleviate health conditions and make education accessible to all.

The lecture was preceded by a welcome address by Saadat Anwar Siddiqi, who appreciated the Higher Education Commission's effort to telecast the lecture live throughout institutes in Pakistan. The local press was also present and later broadcast the lecture on television.