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Adam Yurkewicz | USLHC | USA

View Blog | Read Bio

Tourist Destination

I’ve written about working in the ATLAS control room before, but I haven’t spent too much time there recently.  On Friday, I was there all day and the new visitor’s center was in full swing. The visitor’s area at ATLAS has a glass wall (see picture here) that allows visitors to see into the control room from behind the glass, avoiding disturbing the workers inside. The only problem is that I was sitting 3 feet from the glass window on Friday.
There were people coming through all day, and flash bulbs constantly going off. This was a bit distracting, but not as distracting as the people who tapped on the glass. The other nice feature of the ATLAS visitor’s center is the simulated disaster scenario. There is a big red button that activates a flashing red light, and everyone loves this button. A flashing red light is a bit distracting as well, as you might imagine. I have no idea who designed this, but I have to ask, why?
The afternoon brought another interesting event. I knew something was up when I saw a couple of chairs being set up, and a few flags as well. There was one flag I didn’t recognize. Then I started seeing well-dressed people mulling around, then security people. The head of ATLAS was there, and some prominent physicists from the lab, so I knew a big shot was coming to visit. The stairs out in front of the building were swept, the garbage cans in the control room were emptied, and the banisters on the stairwell were polished! Finally I got the word that the President of Slovenia was coming. Of course we stopped work at this point and found him on wikipedia. A little later the whole entourage including the CERN Director arrived, reporters in tow.  They toured the visitor’s center, but I think they abstained from the big red button for some reason.  Then they came through the control room.  Obviously big shots don’t have to stay behind the glass.  They spoke with someone at the ID (inner detector) desk before hustling off, presumably to go down to see the real tourist attraction, the detector.

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