A word from James Gillies

On Wednesday 10 September, CERN started up the LHC and put basic science firmly on the public agenda. The statistics speak for themselves: 300 journalists on site, over 2000 TV broadcasts, 100 million hits on the CERN website, and an estimated global audience rivalling the number of particles in the LHC’s first beam. Since then, the media have not let us go. An LHC article carried by one on-line news channel was its most successful story ever, and science correspondents are finding themselves in the unfamiliar position of being asked for more stories on particle physics.

By inviting the media in to share the start-up with us, we’ve created a platform to build on as we go through first collisions and into physics. Those journalists here on the day saw the reality of starting up the LHC, complete with all the emotional highs and lows. There’s no doubt that they appreciated it. "I felt very much like I’d been given a front row seat at the Olympics opening ceremony," said one person who came to CERN for the day, "except it was far more spectacular and unique!"

At the end of the day, one journalist asked me whether we’d taken a risk in inviting the world to witness such a delicate operation. Maybe, but I wasn’t too worried. After more than 20 years at CERN, I’ve had plenty of opportunity to see just how good our accelerator people are. And when CERN decides to do something audacious like inviting the world to watch a start-up, the whole Lab and everyone involved with it pull together to make it work. That’s what makes this place special. And that’s what the world saw on 10 September.

A big thanks to everyone.

James Gillies
Communication Group Leader