2 GeV synchrotron closes down

On 3 November, the Cornell 2 GeV electron synchrotron was closed down. This machine was the third in a line of synchrotrons built at the same site, each successive accelerator taking over many of the components of its predecessor. The first, a 300 MeV machine, came into operation in 1949 and was responsible for much of the pioneering work on pion photoproduction, leading to the discovery of the first pion–nucleon resonance. In 1955 its successor, the world’s first alternating gradient synchrotron, came into operation at 1 GeV. Finally, in 1964 the magnet ring was replaced again to raise the energy to 2 GeV. Since then the accelerator has been active in meson-photoproduction and electron-scattering experiments.

The 2 GeV machine still has a future but not at Cornell. It has been dismantled and shipped to Argonne National Laboratory to be reincarnated as a fast-cycling booster for the Zero Gradient Synchrotron proton accelerator.

• Compiled from texts on p392.


The Finance Committee – in session on the 12 November, its 100th meeting since the beginning of CERN – is an advisory committee to the CERN Council. It has the exacting job of supervising CERN’s finances, being concerned with such things as examining budget proposals, salary structures and cost variation formulae and with approving the award of major contracts to industry.

Saturday 25 October was "Open Day" at CERN, when CERN staff, their families and friends could tour the site to see the big machines and specially prepared exhibits illustrating the work of the different sections. By the end of the day, 2472  visitors had been clocked through the gates. For the first time on an Open Day, there was much to see at the Intersecting Storage Rings and the photograph shows visitors flowing through the huge tunnel, where many magnet units are now installed.

Compiler’s Note

There was and still is an acute lack of role models for women in science. In CERN Courier during the whole of 1969, only one indisputably "scientific" woman was photographed – the late Hildred Blewett, a machine engineer (see cover thumbnail); one other candidate was the long-haired blond in the foreground at the Cornell celebration. The corresponding count for men was in the hundreds. Excluding women at the Open Day and in advertisements, only six other women featured in CERN Courier photos throughout 1969: two government representatives, three assistants to CERN Council and one scanner.

The number of women in scientific, engineering and technical (SET) photos in CERN Courier today is better but not as good as it could be for the simple reason that there are just not that many women entering or staying in the field. At the end of 2011, CERN Users numbered 10,388; of the 10,302 engaged in SET activities, 16% were women and this is well matched on CERN Council, which is 17% female. On the other hand, while 21% of the 2424 CERN staff members were female, only 10% of the 896 employed in the SET sectors were female.

On the administrative side, the situation is greatly improved. In the 1960s, the CERN Finance Committee was an all-male assembly; today 33% of the delegates are female. Better still, half of CERN’s professional administrators are women – or 50.42%, to be precise. Best of all, from 1 January 2013 CERN Council will have its first woman president, Polish physicist Agnieszka Zalewska.

A visit to CERN might be an epiphany for some school or college students, so it is encouraging to note that the Visits Service records an impressive increase for half-day guided tours from around 24,000 in 2008 to 84,000 in 2012. And the really good news is that some of the underground areas will once again be accessible on the next Open Day, planned for September 2013, offering a unique experience that no visitor ever forgets.