Impressions of the LHC 2008 open days

20 May 2008

Photographs from the day that the world came to CERN.

The first visitors arrived long before the gates opened.

The magic of superconductivity and cryogenics attracted mainly children and families, including for certain some future scientists. The girl above preferred stepping off the levitating scooter, in order to understand its superconducting mechanism, to the simple pleasure of levitating in air. (Demonstration provided by MaNEP, University of Geneva.)

There were crowds and queues for all the activities throughout the day, including many children (see also Inside Story: The day world came to CERN).

The presenter of the France3 science programme for children “C’est pas sorcier” toured the communes around the LHC ring to meet the public on board a CERN lorry carrying a dipole magnet. Children flocked to see him throughout the day. At the end of a busy day he said: “I am a proton, I feel as though I have toured the LHC ring at the speed of light!”

As partners in the open days, the town halls of the 11 communes situated around the LHC ring and access areas were officially welcomed (34) in the Globe of Science and Innovation by CERN’s director-general, Robert Aymar, after opening the visit points around the LHC on 5 April.

Among the star visitors was physics Nobel laureates Georg Bednorz (44) who gave lectures. He was impressed by the size of the world’s largest superconducting installation as well as the crowds of young children asking questions at his lectures during the day.

First evidence of Higgs at CERN! Peter Higgs (45, right) decided to visit CERN on the weekend of 5–6 April expecting a calm visit not knowing an open day had been planned. Visiting on 5 April, with CERN personnel and families, he said he was “impressed by the scale of the LHC detectors”.

The CERN Fire Brigade, supported by local first aid associations (Samaritans and Croix Verte) deployed first-aiders and first aid stations at the various sites around LHC ring. Despite the huge numbers of people, no accidents were recorded, and the only visitors to the fire brigade came to see the old vehicles!

Among the unusual jobs requested of the LHC site managers was the inflating of eight large helium balloons (4.5 m diameter), one per LHC site. Deflating them was by no means an easy task!

• Max Brice, the CERN photographer, led a team of 15  photographers recording the open day event, with Fabienne de Bruin, Marc Burkhalter, Sylvain Chapeland, Patricia Cini, Pierre Gildemyn, Michael Hoch, Pamela Jueni, Claudia Marcelloni, Martin Moojman, Mona Schweitzer, Mike Struik, Thierry Wenger, Denver Whittington and Patrick Wullschleger.

Open Day Statistics


• 5 April (CERN personnel and family/friends): 23,000 of which 11,000 visited the tunnels (LHC + SPS).

• 6 April (general public): 53,000 of which 23,000 visited the tunnels (LHC + SPS).


• 56 media from 13 different countries with 85 journalists visiting on site, resulting in 200 press articles


• 53 lecturers (including two Nobel laureates), and 20 conference rooms running in parallel on the CERN site and in the communes around the LHC ring.


• 155,000 visits and 8 million hits in four months of the open day website,

Open Day Sponsors

CERN would like to thank the following for their invaluable support:

Main Sponsors: Air Liquide, Alstom Power, ASG Superconductors SpA, Babcock Noell GmbH, Ineo, Intel, Linde Kryotechnik AG, LUVATA, ORACLE, UBS.

Sponsors: CECOM, Force10 Networks, La Mobilière, Peugeot Gerbier, Sun Microsystems (Suisse) SA, TRANSTEC Computer AG, Western Digital.

Associate Sponsors: ACCEL, ArcelorMittal, BRUUN & SORENSEN, Carlson Wagonlit, Cegelec, Dell SA, E4 computer engineering S.p.A., EOS, Ernesto Malvestiti SPA, IBM, IEEE, Infortrend Europe Ltd., INIZIATIVE INDUSTRIALI SRL, Italkrane, Kaneka, La Tour Reseau de Soins, Migros, National Instruments, ProCurve Networking by HP, SERCO, Société Générale, Sunrise Communications AG, Super Micro Computer Inc., Xerox.

Supporters: A+Z Bürosysteme GMBH, Carbagas, CES, ECHO Magazine, ETM, GATE Informatic SA, Plansee Metall GmbH, SIG, Thales.

Institutional Sponsors: Camera di Commercio Italiana in Svizzera, Communauté de

Communes du Pays de Gex, Commune de Meyrin.

Media Sponsors: Le Temps, Radio Lac,

Open Days Friends: C’est pas sorcier, Crédit Agricole Centre-est, Collège du Léman, CNAO Foundation, European Scientific Institute, European Physical Society, European Synchrotron Radiation Facility, ETH Zurich, Fédération d’Improvisation Genevoise (FIG), Kodak, Materials with Novel Electronic Properties, Terapia con Radiazion Adroniche (TERA) Foundation, Université de Genève.

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