Lyn Evans decelerates!

After more than 40 years at CERN, 15 of which were dedicated to ensuring that the LHC comes to completion, Lyn Evans is retiring. The Imperial College Professor and recently-elected Fellow of the British Royal Society has set himself new challenges, but plans to keep strong links with CERN. His big thank you goes to the many hundreds of people who built one of the most complex scientific instruments ever conceived by mankind.

Note from the Editor: It is unusual for the Bulletin to adopt a question-and-answer style. However, we recognise that, with someone of Lyn’s stature, the appropriate thing to do is simply to give him the floor.

Bulletin: Lyn, are you really leaving CERN?
I am retiring but I will not completely lose contacts with CERN and the LHC. It’s time to slow down for me now but I will join the CMS Collaboration. I will help with the link between the experiment and the machine.

Bulletin: After many years as LHC Project Manager, what are your feelings now for the LHC?
I have been at CERN for 41 years and working on the LHC for about 15. The LHC is a large slice of my activity at CERN but not the only one. The LHC is a fabulous machine. If I were asked what I would do differently, there would not be very much. We have some consolidation to do now but I think this machine is good for the next 20-30 years.

Bulletin: What is the most challenging thing you have dealt with during your career?
Building the LHC, of course! What could be more challenging than that?

Bulletin: Which was the worst moment in your career?
It was the Council reaction to the 18% overspend in 2001. I can deal with technical problems, but political and financial problems are much more difficult to deal with. 2001 and 2002 were the most difficult moments for the LHC project.

Bulletin: And the best one?
When I saw the two beams coming into collision at 7 TeV and I saw the counting rate in the captors raising. That was incredible! It was very emotional for me.

Bulletin: What do you think will be the best thing the LHC will bring to us?
The LHC is a machine built for research. The best thing it will bring to us is something that we would never imagine. A completely new knowledge of the Universe. Let’s see what will happen!

Bulletin: What is the strength of CERN?
I think CERN is a fantastic organisation. One of this Lab’s strongest points is consistency and reliability. We say we are going to do it and we do it. The LHC was built over the span of five Directors-General and this says something for coherence and consistency. Stability is an essential feature of this Organization. We can carry on such big projects only with this kind of policy. Council has enormously contributed to make it possible. In my opinion, there is nothing like CERN in the world and probably never ever will be. We’d better make the most of it in the future.

Bulletin: What are you most proud of?
It’s the people who have built the LHC. People standing in the tunnel until 3 o’clock in morning. I cannot imagine anywhere else in the world where this machine could be built, because the crucial ingredient was the good will of the people. There is no management decision that could make it happen, I could never ask people to do what they did. It was their real wish to make it possible.

Bulletin: What future projects will you work on?
I will chair a few committees, such as the International Linear Collider Advisory Committee and that of the FAIR machine at GSI in Darmstadt (Germany). I will also be technically involved with FAIR. I am not going to stop but I will move on to new things, at least for a few years. I will also take some time off! I do not expect this to be a full time obligation.

Bulletin: Will you still be involved in educational programmes?
Education is one of my passions. I think young people are our future. Science and physics in particular are a difficult subject to teach and I will continue to do videoconferences with schools and other educational programmes as long as people will ask me.

Bulletin: What will you miss of CERN?
I don’t look at it this way. When it’s time to go, it’s time to go. And other people will take over. I think this is an important feature of CERN: there is an obligatory retirement age and this liberates the space and funds for recruiting young people. I think this is a correct policy and we have really seen the profit from it.

Bulletin: Lyn, will you miss the daily meetings at the CERN Control Centre?
No, I will not miss them because I will often be there as part of CMS!

Bulletin: See you around Lyn!

On the occasion of Lyn’s retirement, CERN’s Management has organised a colloquium on Tuesday 15 June at 3:00 p.m.:

by CERN Bulletin