A pop-up voyage to the heart of matter

How do you make a pop-up Big Bang? Well it seems that many of you out there have an opinion on this somewhat esoteric question. When Emma Sanders, co-author of ATLAS’ new pop-up book carried out an informal survey amongst physicists, the question provoked some strong reactions.

Paper engineer Anton Radevsky in animated discussion with ATLAS’ Philippe Farthouat and Christoph Rembser.

Too spiky: an early version of the pop-up Big Bang.

"The challenge with the design of every pop-up was to find a solution that both looked good and was scientifically correct," explains Emma. "This was particularly difficult for the Big Bang, where the expansion of the Universe had to be spherically symmetrical and not spiky!"

Over 8 pages, the story of ATLAS and the LHC unfolds, pops up, rotates, and, in some cases, readers even have to get hands-on and build elements themselves. Emma worked on the project with Anton Radevsky, a Bulgarian paper engineer based in Sofia, who designed all the pop-ups and painted the beautiful illustrations. "Anton’s questions were not always easy to answer - like the request for a photo of the outermost layer of the experiment", says Emma. Those of you who have been down to the ATLAS cavern will know there is simply no space to step back to take a photo.

In the end, around 50 CERN colleagues contributed to the book in one way or another. When ATLAS physicist Christoph Rembser first heard about the project, he thought it was a "brilliant idea," particularly for once the detectors are no longer accessible. "It is much better for the imagination to see it in 3D," he explained. Christoph worked on the pop-up tracker and told the Bulletin, "it was a challenge to explain in 3D without words how the detector works."

Despite the book not yet being published, it has already attracted the attention of science blogs such as Nature and Symmetry and can be pre-ordered on Amazon. Alternatively, wait until it is available in the CERN shops -at the Reception, the library and the ATLAS secretariat- from the beginning of December when it will go on sale at 30CHF.

In the meantime, those on Facebook can follow progress by becoming a fan here.

Other books by Anton Radevsky include the pop-up book of spacecraft and the pop-up book of modern architecture.

A video of the Presentation of the Pop-Up book: "Voyage to the heart of Matter - The ATLAS Experiment at CERN" by Pippa Wells is available.