Visiting the Large Hadron Collider – or a picture of it.
Went to the Qld Museum's Hadron Collider exhibit. We had a great time but what a challenging concept for a museum. As we stood in mock-ups of large concrete tunnels and what could have been corridors of rooms from my old uni days, and watched a looped video of a scientist bunking out in her office waiting for the right readings to appear... I couldn't help thinking that this was not an exhibit that would capture the imagination of the masses. How do you show the excitement about the discovery of the Boson-Hicks particle? The work of decades of collaborative science, buried deep underground, working on the invisible, with physics and mathematics only a minute fraction of the population would begin to appreciate? We stared at an empty champagne bottle and tried to imagine the visceral excitement of achieving a lifetime's goal and a secret of the universe. We tried - we tried with all of our imagination. What a brave choice for a public museum, which must entertain even more than inform to remain relevant and funded. [Side note just a few years ago the city opened up the tunnel they had been building under the river for a walk through - one of the largest civil engineering projects worldwide in recent years. Don't know if folks would be impressed with a cardboard tunnel after that - even if was a scientific one. Just saying.]
Ditto for the exquisite colour back-lit astronomy photos downstairs. Even 10 years ago they would have been Wow - but in an age where I can watch a space walk live on my laptop or join a Rover on Mars ... well ... kudos for all of the parents who were dragging their squirming children through the exhibit. I think we oldies are way behind the times... sob for science.
Below: Me trying to imagine being 100m underground next to supermagnets accelerating particles thorough this (mock) concrete tunnel and wondering where the exits might be.