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Posts Tagged ‘VIP’

The Chancellors Visit

Friday, May 2nd, 2008

Never a dull moment at ATLAS. On tuesday, in the midst of our usual action-packed combined detector running and the final last-minute installations, the Chancellor of Germany, Angela Merkel came for a visit and tour.

Now, on a normal day, the control room is immaculate, as I have noted before. But I didn’t realize until Tuesday that there can be another level of clean which is beyond immaculate. The morning before her visit, there were more people cleaning in the control room and the downstairs counting rooms than there are physicists on ATLAS. And hours before she arrived, there were photographers everywhere. I felt almost famous with all the flashing lights.

Just by looking around the control room, you could tell something was up though. (I mean besides the battalion of cleaners and photographers or the fact that the parking lot around the surface building had been completely barricaded off for days beforehand, or that all the furniture in the meeting room adjacent to the control room had been gutted and replaced with very expensive chairs, nice glasses and imported bottles of water, or the podium with microphones constructed outside for any impromptu speeches, or the little red carpet set-up on the stairs leading to the control room). Smaller details were noticeable. Such as the level of dress was just a little higher. Not a lot. Just a little. For example instead of old, torn faded jeans, the jeans were slightly newer on average. Instead of having their cell phones at the ready, most people were equipped with an easily accessible digital camera. And of course the proportion of Germans to the total control room population was much higher than usual.

Her visit to CERN is of specific interest not only because Germany contributes a large amount of funding to CERN but also because she is a physicist by training. So we were all very excited to show off our detector to a fellow enthusiast. And the fact that she is the most powerful political woman in the world was more like a footnote.

When she came into the control room, she was standing right in front of my desk, listening to Peter Jenni (our illustrious ATLAS spokesperson) give an overview of the detector. Unfortunately at that very moment, I was having extreme frustrations configuring Tile Cal for some tests we were doing. I tried my best to keep my frantic hand gestures and exasperated muttering at the computer screen to a minimum. But I suppose the occasional cursing physicist adds to the realism of the tour.

Of course immediately after she left the control room to tour the detector, we all had to sneak outside to check out her motorcade (because who doesn’t love a good motorcade). It was very fun to be able to see her. But then it was back to work as usual.

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