Telstar shows CERN to two continents
During the evening of 23 July about 200 million television viewers in Europe and North America had a short glimpse of CERN at work.
Showing our organization to so many people was a remarkable feat in more ways than one: first, because of the large number of viewers, which clearly shows the power of modern means of communication, and also because of the preparatory work needed for this direct television transmission. Then there was the technical achievement represented by the artificial satellite, relaying electromagnetic waves from Europe to the US. Finally, it was an historic occasion to which no one could remain indifferent.
The transmission in which CERN took part was the first of its kind. Never before had so many television viewers from such a large section of the world simultaneously watched a direct “live” programme. Naturally it was not possible in Europe to judge the quality of the pictures received in the US via the Telstar satellite. However, the pictures from America on the small European screens were exceptionally clear considering the distance, the number of relays and the frequent switchovers from one system to another between camera and receiver. From 7.58 p.m. onwards on 23 July, the 20 or so people gathered round the monitoring screens placed by Swiss Television in the PS south generator courtyard clearly felt the historic importance of this moment, while the communications satellite inexorably continued in orbit thousands of kilometres away.
Three hours later it was the turn of the Eurovision network to send its pictures to Telstar to be distributed over the North American continent. Through the Eurovision network, Austria, Belgium, France, Italy, the Federal Republic of Germany, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and Yugoslavia gave the US a glimpse of life in Europe at that moment.
At Meyrin, 60 hours of feverish preparation were resolved in 60 seconds of direct transmission. One minute of programme time had been allotted to Switzerland, and similar times to each of the other countries taking part in the Telstar programme. Within the limits of such a short time each country was expected to transmit to American television viewers not so much a page from our continent’s commercial catalogue as some evidence of our historic inheritance or cultural background. Moreover, because of the difference in time, it was the night-life of Europe that had to be shown. Although it was 10.58 p.m. in Geneva, it was early evening in New York, and California was still sweltering in the afternoon Sun.
•Taken from CERN Courier September 1962 p10.
The 1962 International Conference on Instrumentation for High-Energy Physics
Nearly 300 participants from 24 different countries joined those working at CERN to consider and discuss the apparatus (not counting the accelerators themselves) required to carry out the kind of experiments whose results had been reported the previous week [at the 11th “Rochester conference” at CERN]. More specifically, they were interested in the development of the equipment to make possible the next advances in experimental high-energy physics.[…]
Spark-chamber photographs are at present processed in a similar way to those from bubble chambers, but the development of fully automatic methods has become imperative owing to the rate at which the photographs can be produced – the Argonne group at CERN, for example, recently took 100,000 pictures in one week, 15,000 of which contained specific tracks of primary interest. The generally lower precision required in the measurements and the almost total absence of background make the task easier than in the case of bubble chambers, but the probable need to deal with chambers of complicated shapes and the effects of operation in magnetic fields can make it more difficult. Cathode-ray-tube scanning systems of various types are currently being developed; one at CERN is designed to scan only between the plates, giving a position measurement for each spark it encounters.
Some workers aim to use television cameras that will record directly the positions of the sparks in digital form on magnetic tape, without the use of film at all. More radically, the new types of spark chamber reported at the conference may eliminate altogether the detection of light and subsequent digitizing of the track.
•Taken from CERN Courier September 1962 p3.
July 1962 was a very busy month for CERN, with two consecutive major international conferences. Below we highlight the concern expressed at the instrumentation conference about the large amount of data possible from a single detector. The month also saw this historic broadcast from CERN to North America by the Telstar satellite; now high-quality transmission is possible via land-based high-speed networks being developed to handle vast data transfers between Europe and North America. (see “Exploiting the transatlantic light path”)