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Physics at the festival frontier

22 September 2017

Following a successful debut in 2016 that witnessed 4000 people happily packing themselves into a tent over three days in Charlton Park in the UK, CERN returned to the WOMAD festival this year with the Physics Pavilion. Featuring talks on theremins and electric guitars, the physics of the NA62 experiment, and the origins of creativity, the Pavilion was once again packed during a year with record attendance at the festival. Those who craved something more hands-on were not disappointed: The Lab, one of two new additions requested by the festival’s management team, allowed participants to build their own cloud chamber, particle collision event, and more. CERN virtual-reality headsets created a queue at a third location called Outside at The Lab, where people eagerly explored the CMS experiment, and Devoxx4Kids allowed children to understand physics by modelling catapults in Minecraft code – perhaps inspiring the next generation of physics model-builders.

The team behind the Physics Pavilion includes physicists from CERN, the UK Science and Technology Facilities Council, the Institute of Physics, and Lancaster University. The enthusiasm for science was clear to see, with proud parents asking for careers advice for their young Einsteins and Curies. “Can we visit?”, “What if there are things smaller than quarks?”, “What are you looking for now?” and “What can we use the Higgs boson for?” were just some of the tough questions asked by hungry minds at a festival that celebrates diversity and culture. With events like this, CERN and its partners are reaching out to a wide range of people, sharing knowledge and excitement, and showing that science is part of our common cultural heritage.

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