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Paul Jackson | CERN | Switzerland

View Blog | Read Bio

Lunch Anyone?

There are a number of important aspects to the working day at CERN, the multitude of meetings,
the countless coffees, the time management in order to remain productive, but there is one chief
aspect of daily life for any CERNois: lunch!
Why is lunch so important to those at CERN you may wonder. It is quite simply that occasionally,
it is a fight for ones life to get some space in the cafeterias. Let me step back for a moment and
flesh this out with a few details. The Meyrin site at CERN has two restaurants, let
us call them ‘Restaurant 1’ and ‘Restaurant 2’ for no other reason than that is what they are called.
There is a third eating place (go on have a guess…that’s right ‘Restaurant 3’) on the Prevessin site
in France. As far as any general cafeteria food goes one must give credit to the CERN cafeterias,
there is ample choice and many healthy options, plus some unhealthy ones, but in the world of
Particle Physics cafeterias CERN is high up the list (Burrito day at SLAC is still Wednesdays I
believe for anyone heading out that way). The reason why lunch can become such a brawl centres
around the spikes of activity which CERN undergoes at certain weeks of the year. Imagine an
already busy eating place between 12 noon and 1.30pm. Not enough seats for all the patrons, long
lines and some quite aggressive customers (not a bad word to be said about the staff from me as
they are always top drawer). Now, add to that 500+ additional people visiting for a meeting for an
entire week. All of them eat lunch in the same cafeteria and all of them want lunch at exactly the same
time, usually when a talk or meeting session has ended. Of this quantum of physicists (not sure if that’s
the technical term but it has a certain ring!) most of them are carrying a bag of some sort as they
try to wade through the munching minions to get at the much desired foodstuffs.

anyone interested in a spot of lunch?

anyone interested in a spot of lunch?

For CERN this has been discussed all the way up to the highest level of management and it would
be naive for a simple user of the lab to call this a problem. It’s not really. During many weeks of the
year the restaurants aren’t even that full, rarely, does restaurant 2 have a more patrons than they can
handle, and it’s a pleasant environment to eat in. One thing that CERN does wrestle with though is the
problem of infrastructure that the eating issue highlights. As all of high energy physics converges
towards one lab, the number of users has grown faster than the additional office space, the working
areas and conference rooms, and the restaurant space. These issues take time to solve and CERN
reacts well to problems from my experience thus far so we will see how things evolve over time.
For now though we will train our eyes to spot an elusive table on the R1 patio, and try not to trip over
stray bits of debris while sprinting, with tray in hand, to secure it.

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