The Director-General’s speech to the personnel

At the LHCFest the Director-General of CERN gave a speech to thank all the CERN personnel, users and contractors’ staff for their outstanding contributions to the LHC project.

Good evening.

A few hours ago, I was here on this stage to welcome 1500 VIPs to the official inauguration of the LHC. I am delighted to be back in the same hall now to welcome you, the VIPs of the LHC. Such an exceptional accelerator and such ground-breaking experiments and computing infrastructure could never have been built without the relentless efforts of people of courage and determination. From this point of view, you are the VIPs of the LHC project. It was important that CERN should involve you in the inauguration of the LHC by organising this celebration tonight.

We have been obliged to restrict the number of participants to 3000 as the safety rules prevented us from inviting more. Nevertheless, many more thousands of people have been involved in the project, either directly or indirectly.

Some of you were here twenty years ago when the accelerator was first on the drawing board. Some of you have followed the project from start to finish, while others have left without seeing its completion. Some of you joined the LHC adventure a few years ago. You are all members of the CERN personnel, staff working for one of the Organization’s contractors, or scientists from one of the institutes collaborating with CERN and its experiments. You represent one of the 85 different nationalities present at CERN. The mosaic of your various skills, contributions, nationalities and statuses is a reflection of CERN’s great diversity. This diversity is a tremendous asset and one of the keys to the success of the LHC project.

Whatever your function, each of you has made a contribution, however small, to the building of this unique structure. The LHC could not have been achieved without these millions of individual contributions. When you are involved in a detail, a component or an administrative activity, it is hard to gain a sense of the scale of the entire project. It would take too long to cite all the facts and figures associated with the project but I will mention a few of them. The LHC took 20 years to design, 10 000 people from all over the world and thousands of companies were involved in its design and construction, and 7000 scientists are collaborating in its experiments. The machine consists of 9600 magnets and 37000 tonnes of equipment cooled to -271°C; 100,000 computers across the globe make up the computing Grid.

This amazing achievement has required daring innovation, perseverance and imagination. You have shown all of these qualities, perpetuating the great pioneering tradition that has always characterised CERN.

The commissioning of the first beam on 10 September demonstrated that the LHC was operating superbly and even surpassing anything we could have hoped for. After only two hours of tests, two beams travelled the circumference of the ring in opposite directions. The experiments soon showed us the tracks of the interactions in the various detectors. The computing Grid has also proven that it is working superbly. We should all feel very satisfied with this first undisputed success in front of the world’s media.

In this connection, I should like to thank you on behalf of CERN and to tell you how proud I am of the commitment and motivation you have shown in bringing this unique project to fruition.

The first beam was such a resounding success that the incident on 19 September came as a blow to us all. Tonight we are celebrating the LHC and therefore I will not dwell on it. You have all received a detailed report on what happened, as well as information on the measures that have been decided. However, I wish to reassure you that the fault was not caused by a problem with the machine’s design.

All pioneers encounter obstacles, and the path of all great innovations is strewn with pitfalls, so it would have been extraordinary if the LHC had been spared them. Unfortunately, this was not to be. But what sets pioneers apart is their ability to recover from setbacks and forge ahead, regardless of the difficulties. Within a few days, the LHC teams resumed work to repair the damaged sector and take the necessary measures to prevent the problem from reoccurring. I should like to reiterate my confidence in the machine and the people behind it: the LHC will be back in operation next spring and the physicists will be able to collect data from the collisions we have all been so eagerly awaiting.

You may have listened to the speeches that were made at the LHC Inauguration Ceremony this afternoon. These speeches showed how committed CERN’s Member States are to the Organization’s future; their high-level representatives conveyed their congratulations and encouragement to all those who have contributed to the LHC project and, above all, delivered messages full of confidence in the future, confirming the enduring support of their various governments for fundamental research as a source of progress.

Taking account of the governments’ commitments and your motivation and skills, I have every confidence in the future of CERN. The Organization’s programmes for the next ten years have now been defined and largely approved. The priority is the optimised operation of the LHC with a view to making the expected discoveries; the preparation of the Super LHC is related to the upgrade of the injection complexe and may be followed, in the more distant future, by a linear collider, very probably CLIC. It is now up to you to turn these projects, in whose success I have complete confidence, into reality.

This is certainly the last speech I will be making to you before my departure at the end of the year. I should therefore like to tell you how happy I have been to have served CERN and the project we are celebrating this evening. I have enjoyed five very exciting years at CERN and I am glad to have been able to fulfil my commitments.

Before I conclude, allow me to raise a toast to the LHC and to you all.

I wish you an excellent evening!