“Wandering the Immeasurable”

Art is coming to the Globe garden: from September, you will be able to admire an impressive steel sculpture – a  modern symbol of the evolution of science through the ages.


Computer-generated image of the impressive sculpture that will adorn the Globe garden from September.

Construction work is under way on Place Galileo Galilei in front of the Globe of Science and Innovation. Soon to arrive on the site is a monumental work of art: a 15-tonne sculpture in stainless steel, measuring 7 metres tall and 10 metres wide.

The story behind this work of art dates back to 2005, when Gayle Hermick, a Canadian sculptor, discovered CERN. “After visiting the CERN site for the first time in 2005, I was captured by the enormity of what the LHC represents – experimentation based on centuries of scientific exploration,” she recalls. “Current physics theories are based on those that came before them, which were, in turn, based on other precedents. The connections between theories weave together the story of science, creating a fabric of complex detail.”

Out of this inspiring encounter between the artist and CERN, a project was born. Baptised “Wandering the Immeasurable”, it takes the form of a ribbon of steel, endlessly coiling and uncoiling to represent infinite possibilities and spanning almost 4,000 years as it retraces part of the history of scientific and technical knowledge worldwide. “On one side of the ribbon, 396 important discoveries are inscribed in their language of origin, accompanied by the names of their discoverers,” explains Bernard Pellequer, who is in charge of the Globe’s programme of events and the realisation of this project. “The story begins with sexagesimal calculations in Mesopotamia, and ends (for the time being) with the discovery of the Higgs boson at CERN. Of course, the exploration continues, which is why the end of the ribbon remains suspended, as if awaiting future events...” Visitors can therefore retrace the history of science step by step and will find some familiar names here and there. On the other side of the ribbon, Hermick wanted to showcase the language of science. From Pythagoras’ much-loved theorem to the cryptic Standard Model Lagrangian equation, the mathematical alphabet becomes more complex the more the ribbon unwinds.

The sculpture has numerous symbolic connections to CERN, technologically above all, as the sculptor chose to work with an industrial metal, stainless steel, which had to be laser cut. From the point of view of diversity too: by granting the place of honour to men and women from around the world who have contributed to science through the ages, Hermick's work reflects the nature of CERN, whose very existence is built on international collaboration. Finally, this sculpture, like the Globe itself, acts as a bridge between science and society. “This work allows visitors to understand a part of the history of science, from its beginnings to today,” underlines Pellequer. “This educational role is also one of CERN’s fundamental aims.”

The sculpture “Wandering the Immeasurable” will be inaugurated at the end of September. Its conception and construction have been supported by a one-off donation from the Fondation Meyrinoise du Casino and it has been constructed by the Swiss metalwork firm SENN-AG.

by Anaïs Schaeffer