Rachid Mazini grew up in Casablanca, Morocco. Although he’s now a big fan of rugged terrain, he spent his youth as a “city boy” with holidays on the Atlantic shoreline. It wasn’t until he started university in Marrakech that he began to explore the mountains – the Atlas range, in fact.
For Rolf Seuster, there’s no place like Victoria, Canada. Located on Vancouver Island, about 90 km south of this year’s Winter Olympics, Rolf believes it’s one of the nicest places in the country. “It’s the size of Switzerland, and there’s maybe half a million people on the whole island,” he says.
When the time came for François Butin to do his military service for France, he wasn’t interested in the armed forces. Instead, he chose to become a “cooperant”, working for a longer period in research or engineering. “In the old days, if you wanted to do your military service in an intelligent way, that was one of the good opportunities,” says François.
Attila Krasznahorkay has physics in his blood, the son of a nuclear physicist and a physics and math teacher. He was also introduced to the traveling life style at an early age, moving from his Hungarian homeland to Groningen in the Netherlands at eight years old when his father began work in the city’s university. His young, agile brain managed to pick up the Dutch language, but now, although he recalls the experience of being fluent at age nine, he struggles to think of words.
Yongsheng Gao was born in Jinan, the capital of the Shandong province of China, also the home of Confucius some 2500 years ago. The Yellow River flows by Jinan, the ‘City of the Springs’, with the Mountain Tai nearby.
Unlike most of us at CERN, Hans Peter Beck is a Swiss native. He grew up in places like Weggis, on the shore of Lake Lucerne; Wolfenschiessen, in the mountainous interior of Switzerland; Dietikon, a suburb of Zürich, and finally in Zürich itself. He completed his matura – the Swiss secondary education – at the Mathematical Natural Science Gymnasium, Rämibühl, Zürich. Although he received better marks in chemistry at the time, physics held a much stronger attraction because it delves into matter at its most basic.
Moscow has been home to Lidia Smirnova for as long as she can remember. She was born in Ukraine, her mother’s region, shortly after the end of World War II. Her father, from Siberia, had served five years in the thick of the fighting, on the Soviet side. “He was wounded twice, but was really lucky to be saved with his life,” says Lidia. He was also very lucky to be stopped in Dnepropetrovsk, Ukraine, on his way from Germany to Japan. In that summer, 1945, he met Lidia’s mother.
Born Jorge in Argentina, George Mikenberg is a man of many aliases. He changed his name to the Hebrew Giora when he settled in Israel, but in English-speaking company, he encountered a problem: “The Anglo-Saxons cannot pronounce it, or rather they pronounce it in a way that means WC in Arabic.” And so he became George, but also Georg for the German-speaking, and Georges for his French-Swiss wife.
Particle physics is an endurance sport. The building of ATLAS took nearly two decades of design and construction. In the early autumn, the blast from the first colliding particles will mark the start of a multi-year race to discover new physics. This rhythm of preparation and performance is one that Adele Rimoldi knows well.
Mountains are an enduring presence in the life of Marco Aurelio Díaz. “Wherever you are in Chile, the Andes are there, and they make an imprint in your mind that time does not erase,” he explains.