The SC gets ready for visitors

Hall 300, which houses the Synchrocyclotron (SC), CERN’s first accelerator, is getting ready to host a brand-new exhibition. The site will be one of the stops on the new visit itineraries that will be inaugurated for the 2013 CERN Open Day.


The Synchrocyclotron through the years.

Just as it did in the late 1950s, when the accelerator was first installed, the gigantic red structure of the Synchrocyclotron's magnet occupies a large part of the 300-square-metre hall. “We have completed the first phase of the project that will give the SC a new lease of life,” says Marco Silari, the project leader and a member of CERN’s Radiation Protection Group. “We have removed all the equipment that was not an integral part of the accelerator. The hall is now ready for the civil-engineering work that will precede the installation of the exhibition.”

The SC was witness to a big part of the history of CERN. The accelerator produced its first 600 MeV proton beam on 1 August 1957. Ten years later, construction began on an underground hall to house the ISOLDE experiments, which were supplied by the SC for almost 25 years. A large variety of different particles were accelerated by the SC over the years until 1990, when the accelerator was shut down and the hall became a storage area. “The exhibition will take visitors back from the present to the beginning of physics research at CERN,” explains Rolf Landua, Head of CERN’s Education Group, which is in charge of developing the exhibition site. “A sort of time tunnel at the entrance to the hall will take the visitor progressively into the atmosphere of the late 1950s. A sound and light show based on the projection mapping technique will virtually bring the synchrocyclotron back to life. Finally, one corner of the hall will be dedicated to reconstructing life at CERN at that time, with real objects recreating a typical workplace. Researchers who worked on SC-related projects will also virtually recount their stories to the visitor.”


The cleaning of the SC hall took about seven months and, besides an external company, involved many CERN services from the transport group and the magnet group to the civil-engineering team. “Before starting the clean-up of almost 200 tonnes of scrap material, we recovered quite a number of small objects dating back to the beginning of the SC era, such as old telephones, control panels, tools, warning displays and loudspeakers, which we will put back into the hall to form part of the exhibition,” explains Marco Silari. A party was organised on 13 December to celebrate the end of this first phase of work and the hand-over to the civil-engineering team in preparation for the installation of the exhibition. The exhibition is being designed by Atelier Brückner, which also designed the Universe of Particles permanent exhibition that was installed in the Globe in 2010. Together with three other sites, the SC will be open to visitors by September 2013, in time for the CERN Open Day.

by Antonella Del Rosso