Paweł Jurgielewicz Photo

Researchers’ Night at CERN

One day in year (namely the last Friday of September) the doors of many universities, institutes and other science connected facilities around the world are open for everyone. It is called the Researchers’ Night and starts usually around 5 pm and lasts till midnight (that depends on the facility). Right then all big academic centers come to life thanks to bunches of attractions prepared for the visitors (young, old – it absolutely does not matter).

Back then

I still remember my first Reserachers’ Night 5 years ago when I just arrived for my studies to Cracow. This was a very good opportunity to get to know places around the University of Science Technology in Cracow and science/projects which were being carried there at a time.

I was puzzled with the optics experiment at Faculty of Physics and Applied Computer Science (btw. I was starting my studies there) and saw the plasma welding in action. What made me amazed the most was without a doubt presentation of RAYA. It is a system (engineer would rather say engine) to accurately simulate acoustic wave propagation in 3D scenes. The concept is very similar to raytracing – the technique to create physically correct images which can be seen in 3D movies.

Right now

From that moment a lot of time flew away. Lot’s of things have changed – my place of residence also. As I am the CERN employee and an aspiring to be a photographer person 😛 there was no better choice than blend into the crowd that night. I took my Canon 650D with 50mm/1.4 lens on and hit the CERN’s Globe.

My own photo report

The event started at 5 pm at the Globe.

The Globe with crowds waiting to enter discussion panels. The only type of picture I took with wide-angle lens. Around 9 pm.

Inside the Globe visitors could see the multimedia exhibition trying to explain what kind of problems researchers and technicians tackle with and what is the current state of knowledge.

This type of questions welcome visitors entering the exibition. Deep.
Touch the science

CERN is one of the most technology driven places in the world so there had to be virtual walk around CERN Data Center.

It looks very funny when people with VR try to look around. Still very futuristic.

Outside the Globe everyone could find something for his body and mind. There were free delicious cookies for everyone.

Free cookies for everyone. This particular is a lemon tartlet with meringue (Tartelettes Citron Meringuee) but the variety was enormous - something sweet for everyone's taste.

Big and small could learn something about experiments carried out at CERN and how do they work:

Cloud in a bottle experiment - the basis of vapour chamber operation used to detect particles. Image is a bit blurry beacuse my hands had unconditional reflex when the pumped bottle was open with a bang.

or play a bit with a robotic hand:

Do not touch the copper rod or you will lose. The operating person has just lost...

If you had enough time and queues were not discouraging you, you could go and visit ATLAS experiment or Antimatter Factory. Unfortunately, currently both experiments are on and no one can go down to the ATLAS detector cavern. You could see everything that was on the ground level only. Well, you definitely do not want to be exposed to the immediate lethal dose of radiation…

Do not touch and do not cross the line because we are making science there.
Magnet machinery at the antimatter factory

Final thoughts

This year’s Reaserchers’ Night was a great opportunity for me to check whether I am able to work in unpredictable conditions with very limited light. Actually I have also checked the stability of my hands and that day’s amount of luck. Even with my very bright lens there were situations when the camera had to be handled in the stable position for around 1/15 s. Whereas I did not want to exceed my personal 1600 ISO limit I had to be extremely careful when pushing the button. Fortunately my camera’s shoulder bag came to the rescue. I was leaning my elbow on it stabilizing the camera grip.

If you look at the pictures from the inside of the Globe you should easily recognize another trick. I was using the light emitted by the screens mounted on every device to enlight people. First it made shorter exposition times which not only helped for my shaking hands but also ensured that constantly moving people are not that blurred. Secondly and even more importantly it allowed me to extract the subject from the background giving awesome results:

I did not present all attractions of the Night here. Firstly it was purely impossible to be at many places at a time. Secondly the photoshoot took place for 4 hours after the whole day at work. I am only human, after all… Everybody can feel exhausted.

Simple geometric shapes are good because are good and simple.

Personally, I am extremely happy about the pictures I took considering accompanying conditions. And what is your opinion? Write a comment – give me a signal that you care also!

External links

Official page of the event at CERN.

RAYA Sound Engine for Games.