A very special Physics Class gets a flavour of the “spirit of CERN”

On 9 and 10 November, forty members of a very special physics class visited CERN for the first time. They came from the Royal Swedish Academy… does that ring a bell?

From left to right: Gösta Ekspong, Mats Jonson and Lars Bergström, members of the Physics Class of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.

The Physics Class of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences is the institution that each year awards the Nobel Prize in Physics. Forty of its members visited CERN, just a few weeks after awarding the 2010 Nobel Prize in Physics to Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov ‘for groundbreaking experiments regarding the two-dimensional material graphene’.

Although many of its members have strong links with the Laboratory, this was the first time the Class had come to CERN on an official visit. “I have been at CERN for the last two years, working at ISOLDE”, says Björn Jonson, visiting Scientist at CERN, chair of the Physics Class and member of the Nobel Committee. “I wanted to organize this important visit before leaving CERN to go back to my university in Sweden. I was sure my fellow colleagues would like the idea, as every time I've taken people to CERN they've immediately fallen completely in love with it.”

Members of the Nobel Committee visit the SM18 Hall.

The Physics Class of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences organizes annual visits to other laboratories but, to preserve their integrity, the members only go if they are NOT invited. So, CERN did not invite them but, indeed, prepared a rich programme for their visit, which included tours of ISOLDE, the AD, the CCC and the ATLAS Control Room, and, of course, a nice reception in the Globe. “These are exciting times for CERN and we are really pleased to be here”, commented Lars Bergstöm, secretary of the Nobel Committee who was also a CERN Fellow in the early 1980s. “It's very clear that CERN is taking the lead in the field of particle physics. The performance of the LHC and its experiments is really impressive. They are certainly the top candidates to discover new physics and this is something that, by definition, interests the Nobel Committee.”

Nobody knows what the future will bring but, in the words of Lars Bergstöm, there is already something here that is worthy of a special award: the ‘spirit of CERN’. “During this visit, we got a very good idea of the spirit of CERN”, he says. “Here people from different cultures have been working peacefully together since the very beginning. They manage to do ingenious things in a very efficient way. This is a great achievement, irrespective of whether or not they find some spectacular new things.”

by CERN Bulletin