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Monica Dunford | USLHC | USA

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Monday Dreaming

Monday mornings are difficult. Monday mornings after spending a week on the beaches of Montenegro. Excruciating.

I got back to Geneva late last night from the former Yugoslavian coast, having spent the week swimming in the crystal clear Adriatic waters, laying around on the warm beaches soaking in the last days of summer. With not a care in the world.

But monday mornings always come. And needless to say my ability to focus this particular monday is utterly and completely non-existent. But I do feel refreshed, tanned and ready to blog.

My first trip to CERN and the Geneva area was almost two years ago. At the time I was still at student at Penn and had gone to CERN for a visit to see what it would be like to work there. Having been to some of the US national labs, I had a pretty good idea of what CERN would look like. Physicists are really into physics. Not architecture. If they have money to spend, they will spend it on some cutting edge piece of equipment, not office furniture. So I expected the buildings and offices to be very functional but not necessarily pretty and certainly not in fashion.

Before leaving for CERN, my pilot friend Adrian explained it differently, however. According to Dan Brown, the bestselling author of ‘Angel and Demons’, CERN has beautiful brick buildings, a vertical wind tunnel for relaxation and an X-33 spaceplane. I think Adrian was hoping I might be able to negotiate a job for him as an X-33 pilot. For a brief second I thought, ‘Well. This IS Europe. Maybe?’ It was a very brief second, let me assure you.

During that trip to CERN, I toured many of the amazing instrumentation and electronics facilities and both the ATLAS and CMS detectors. There were no brick buildings. Sadly no vertical wind tunnel. And even more sadly no X-33. But honestly given the choice between an X-33 and the electronics facilities, I would go with the electronics. No contest. Instrumentation and electronics facilities not only at CERN but in the US labs and universities are some of the best in the world. And I have a tendency to talk about them ad nauseam. Just a warning.

But it is fun to dream. And I highly recommend this website which explores the truth in many of the popular notions about CERN.

But if any eccentric billionaire has an old spaceplane collecting dust in his or her garage, the scientists of CERN would be grateful. Me especially.

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