A bountiful spring harvest

Although we recently put the clocks forward and spring has officially begun, the view from my window looks more autumnal – befitting of the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness, rather than that of sowing seeds for the future. Which, in a way is appropriate. With the LHC paused, we are reaping a kind of harvest in the form of recognition for our efforts.


Two weeks ago, I was in Edinburgh, on behalf of everyone at CERN, to collect the Edinburgh medal, which we shared with Peter Higgs. I particularly like the citation for this honour: “The Edinburgh Medal is awarded each year to men and women of science and technology whose professional achievements are judged to have made a significant contribution to the understanding and well-being of humanity.” I like this, because it underlines a fact that needs to be shouted louder – that fundamental science does more than build the sum of human knowledge, it is also the foundation of human well-being.

A few days before my trip to Scotland, seven scientists from the LHC and its experiments, again representing everyone involved with CERN, were awarded the Special Fundamental Physics Prize in a ceremony presided over quite brilliantly by renowned actor Morgan Freeman, who managed to conjure up an evening that brought a touch of Hollywood glamour to our world. The harvest continues next week with the presentation of the EPS Edison Volta Prize, for which I also much like the citation:  “Building on decades of dedicated work by their predecessors, the 2012 EPS Edison Volta Prize has been awarded to [Rolf Dieter Heuer, Sergio Bertolucci, and Stephen Myers],
for leading the culminating efforts in the direction, research and operation of the CERN Large Hadron Collider (LHC), which resulted in many significant advances in high energy particle physics,
in particular, the first evidence of a Higgs-like boson in July 2012.” The award ceremony in Strasbourg will be followed by an event at the Centro Volta in Italy on 13 April.

But while recognition of our collective effort is of course satisfying, I’d like to end where I began, in Scotland, with a quote from Robert Louis Stevenson, who wisely counsels us: “Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap, but by the seeds that you plant.” As we reap a bountiful harvest from the LHC’s first three years of running, we are sowing the seeds for a bright future at our flagship facility.

Rolf Heuer