“If knowledge were light, there would be an aureole of light over CERN!”

On Tuesday, 8 October, CERN welcomed Jean de Toledo, aged 100 years and 1 month (as he is eager to point out). He is the president of the “Pharmacies principales de Genève” and has a passion for physics.


During his meeting with the Director-General, Jean de Toledo was given the LHC: the Large Hardon Collider book, which he made sure to have Rolf sign.

He was born in Geneva in 1911, just when Rutherford was discovering the structure of the atom. Jean De Toledo says that it has been a long-standing dream of his to visit the Laboratory, to the construction of which he was a witness.

“CERN is a fabulous place, and a great plus for Geneva,” he said in a discussion with CERN Director-General Rolf Heuer. Smiling and with a glass of champagne in his hand, he received a copy of the book LHC: the Large Hadron Collider and a “magic coffee mug”, whose secret was explained to him by the Director-General.

“There is a prodigious accumulation of knowledge here," he said, and expressed his regret that "enough of it doesn’t permeate beyond the Organization”. Rolf Heuer assured him that CERN was in fact working actively to achieve just that.  The visitor concluded with the words, “If knowledge were light, there would be an aureole of light over CERN!” It’s hard to think of a nicer compliment from a man whose birth coincided with that of nuclear physics.

by Anaïs Schaeffer