“Accelerating Science” exhibition zooms to Turkey

'Accelerating Science', CERN’s travelling science outreach exhibition, has just arrived at the Middle East Technical University (METU) in Ankara, Turkey for a four-month stay there. This is the first time it has moved outside the circle of the Member States. The Turkish venue will inaugurate some new exhibits that have recently been developed by CERN’s software developers.


“It’s been a very busy day,” says Bilge Demirkoz, an associate professor of physics at METU and a member of AMS-02, who had been overseeing the unloading of the lorries when we spoke to her. “As the University doesn’t have a specific exhibition space, the CERN exhibits are going to be housed in the covered tennis courts just behind the cultural and congress centre. It’s a beautiful venue, and there are plenty of parking spaces.”

The University has sent invitations to the exhibition to high schools and to about 100 Turkish universities with physics departments. Bilge and her colleagues are also launching a media campaign, including a new website (in Turkish), to encourage the general public to come. “There’s a lot of interest in the search for the Higgs here, but also a lot of misunderstanding about particle physics,” explains Bilge. “So the Department of Physics here really wanted the exhibition to come to Turkey to clear up some of that misunderstanding. It’s also important in the context of Turkey’s ongoing negotiations concerning its future status at CERN.” “We are very pleased to host the CERN exhibition at our Ankara Campus. I trust it will help students and lay people of all ages to better understand the nature and significance of CERN research,” adds Ahmet Acar, President of METU.

The exhibition has recently been enriched with some new animations and hands-on displays that will be shown in Turkey for the first time. “We’ve been working on a new interactive exhibit called ETAPE, which stands for the Energy Timeline of Accelerators and Particle Experiments,” explains Joaõ Pequenaõ, a multimedia developer from the CERN Media Lab. He and Henrique Carvalho, a Portuguese student from LIP Minho, have been working on the software for the exhibit, while Joaõ Bárcia, also from the Media Lab, is responsible for the innovative touch-screen hardware in the device. On two huge touch-screens, visitors will be able to select a particle physics accelerator based on its position on an 'energy timeline' designed to demonstrate how collisions in new accelerators have become more and more energetic. “Press the 'Hit' button and a 3D animation of a particle collision appears on the screen, revealing which energies are needed to produce which particles,” explains Joaõ Pequenaõ.

Preparations are in full swing for the grand opening of the exhibition on 2 April, which will be attended by CERN's Director-General, Rolf Heuer, and Emmanuel Tsesmelis, CERN's Advisor for Turkey. “Such exhibitions offer a significant opportunity for a greater public understanding of CERN and of its objectives in the areas of science, technology, education and international collaboration. This particular exhibition will be another important step in bringing Turkey and CERN closer together,” underlines Emmanuel.

by Joannah Caborn Wengler