Sharing the Excitement of ATLAS

This past week, I grabbed a last-minute opportunity to wander about and take in the beauty of my favourite particle physics detector. Located 100 meters under the French/Swiss border near Geneva, ATLAS is always a marvel to see and to explore. Although I have hosted hundreds of visits by its side, I never tire of the view and inevitably pull out my phone or camera to photograph it, yet again.

22nd December 2019

Angels and Teachers

I met beautiful people in Los Angeles earlier this month: smart, talented students, all destined for great careers. They welcomed me to their high schools and their after-school programmes, all well-equipped with computing, electronics, a robotics lab and, above all, a brilliant staff of teachers.

27th March 2018
27th March 2018

Reaching out across cultures

This past Spring, I had the opportunity to travel to Taos, New Mexico, USA, to work with artist Agnes Chavez, on one of her “Projecting Particles” workshops. Her innovative programme aims to develop STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) skills in students aged 8 and up, employing a mixture of science education and artistic expression. It is a winning combination for everyone involved.

5th January 2018

Explore virtual CERN with ATLAScraft

Enter the world of particle physics with the newly-launched ATLAScraft! Players can explore the CERN campus, shrink down to the size of a particle, and even conduct their own “experiments” in educational minigames.

13th December 2017

The art of physics

I have been doing some work with artists recently. Not that I’m planning a career change, you know: I just love to talk about my research to anyone who is prepared to listen, and lately it’s been with artists. Ruth Jarman and Joe Gerhardt, aka Semiconductor, are internationally renowned visual artists who in 2015 won the Collide@CERN Ars Electronica Award and spent a two-month residency at CERN. Like myself, they live in Brighton, which is also home to the University of Sussex, where I work.

4th October 2017
4th October 2017

ATLAS LIVE: Celebrating 25 years of discovery

To celebration of its 25th anniversary, ATLAS is hosting a series of Facebook live events today, Monday 2 October 2017. Explore key locations around CERN - including the ATLAS control room, Building 40 and the ATLAS TileCal workshop - while learning about the physics, construction and history of the ATLAS Experiment.

2nd October 2017

Hunt for Dark Matter in the “Phantom of the Universe”

From the chaotic moments after the Big Bang to present day proton collisions in the ATLAS Experiment, the new planetarium show Phantom of the Universe takes viewers on the hunt for dark matter. The show has been awarded an honourable mention for outstanding and innovative production at the 11th International FullDome Festival in Germany.

21st June 2017

Become a Higgs Hunter

HiggsHunters is the first mass-participation citizen science project for the Large Hadron Collider, allowing non-experts to get directly involved in physics analysis. Since its launch in 2014 on the Zooniverse platform, over 30,000 people from 179 countries have participated in the project. Their work has led to the project’s first publication on arXiv.

5th December 2016
5th December 2016

Dortmund students work with ATLAS data

The ATLAS Open Data platform is inspiring new ways to teach high-energy physics. Universities can incorporate the data into their curriculum, giving their students hands-on analysis experience and introducing them to the world of research.

29th September 2016

ICHEP results presented with style!

For those of you with an affinity for Twitter, you’ll know that the ICHEP press crew have been utilising all of their dark arts to bring you the most interesting results as they’re presented at ICHEP 2016.

8th August 2016

Explore LHC data on new ATLAS educational platform

On Friday 29 July, the ATLAS experiment at CERN released the data from 100 trillion proton-proton collisions to the public. This includes the world’s first open release of 8 TeV data, gathered from the Large Hadron Collider in 2012, making it the most current high-energy physics open data.

28th July 2016

Make music with ATLAS data

From techno beats to classical melodies, from jazz swinging to pop and rock riffs – the ATLAS experiment can play them all. Thanks to Quantizer, a platform that translates ATLAS events into notes and rhythms, one of the most complex scientific instruments in the world will not only search for new physics, but also generate music.

20th May 2016

Picturing particles

Spring is now in full bloom at the ATLAS experiment which recorded the year’s first collisions for physics on Monday, 9 May. Event displays from these collisions were immediately streaming on the ATLAS live website, with some shared across social media platforms.

11th May 2016

Meet 7 inspiring women from the ATLAS experiment

Women play key roles in the ATLAS Collaboration: from young physicists at the start of their careers to analysis group leaders and spokespersons of the collaboration. Celebrate International Women’s Day by meeting a few of these inspiring ATLAS researchers.

8th March 2016

BOOST outreach and Particle Fever

Conferences like BOOST are designed to bring physicists to think about the latest results in the field. When you put 100 experts from around the world together into a room for a week, you get a fantastic picture of the state of the art in searches for new physics and measurements of the Standard Model.

15th August 2015

Q&A with EPS Outreach Award-Winner Kate Shaw

ATLAS Outreach Co-coordinator Kate Shaw has been awarded the 2015 European Physical Society (EPS) Outreach prize "for her contributions to the International Masterclasses and for her pioneering role in bringing them to countries with no strong tradition in particle physics".

12th August 2015

New neighbour for ATLAS Tilecal prototypes

There's a new resident in ATLAS' Tile Hadronic Calorimeter (Tilecal) development laboratory: the last surviving UA2 central calorimeter module. After years at CERN's Microcosm exhibition, the module has found a new home next to prototype ATLAS Tilecals. Side-by-side, they illustrate the progress in sampling organic scintillator calorimeters over the past 35 years.

6th August 2015

Musical Dimensions

CERN will be back at the Montreux Jazz Festival for its third annual workshop: 'The Physics of Music and The Music of Physics' on 9 July at 15:00 in Petit Palais. Live events from the ATLAS experiment mapped into music will feature as part of the event.

Run 2 of the LHC began this spring, bringing with it hopes and promise of new physics and discovery. One of many key items on the LHC shopping list is the existence of new spatial dimensions, a potential means to harmonise gravity in our theoretical understanding of nature.

9th July 2015

Projecting pARTicles in Cuba

From Ars Electronica-style festivals to artists in residence programmes at scientific organisations, "art meets science" is a term that just keeps on trending. ATLAS visiting artist Agnes Chavez has taken a fresh look at the merging of the disciplines, adding a new one to the mix: "Art meets Science meets Education".

22nd June 2015

From ATLAS Around the World: First blog from Hong Kong

Guess who ATLAS’ youngest member is? It’s Hong Kong! We will be celebrating our first birthday in June, 2015. The Hong Kong ATLAS team comprises members from The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK), The University of Hong Kong (HKU) and The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST), under the the Joint Consortium for Fundamental Physics.

19th May 2015

ATLAS' Higgs ML Challenge data open to public

The dataset from the ATLAS Higgs Machine Learning Challenge has been released on the CERN Open Data Portal.

5th March 2015

The Ties That Bind

A few weeks ago, I found myself in one of the most beautiful places on earth: wedged between a metallic cable tray and a row of dusty cooling pipes at the bottom of Sector 13 of the ATLAS Detector at CERN. My wrists were scratched from hard plastic cable ties, I had an industrial vacuum strapped to my back, and my only light came from a battery powered LED fastened to the front of my helmet. It was beautiful.

15th January 2015
15th January 2015

The ATLAS experiment on Scholarpedia

An overview of the ATLAS experiment written by physicists Monica Dunford and Peter Jenni has been published on Scholarpedia. The article is the first in the series on experimental high-energy physics that the editors of the subject hope to host on the website.

3rd December 2014

Join the Higgs Hunt

Higgs Hunters, the first particle physics venture on Zooniverse, a citizen science project, has been launched in collaboration with the University of Oxford, New York University and the ATLAS Experiment. Higgs Hunters invites online volunteers to participate in studying the properties of the new boson, which may hold clues as to what lies beyond our current understanding of the universe.

1st December 2014
1st December 2014

Machine Learning Wins the Higgs Challenge

The winner of the four-month long Higgs Machine Learning Challenge, launched on 12 May, is Gábor Melis from Hungary, followed closely by Tim Salimans from The Netherlands and Pierre Courtiol from France. They will receive cash prizes, sponsored by Paris-Saclay Centre for Data Science and Google, of $7000, $4000, and $2000 respectively. The three winners have been invited to participate at the Neural Information Processing Systems conference on 13 December in Canada.

20th November 2014

Five schools virtually visit ATLAS, CMS and IceCube

The ATLAS and CMS experiments hosted a virtual visit together with the IceCube Experiment in the South Pole for students from five different European schools on 2 October. The visit allowed the students to interact with researchers in both the LHC experiments and the IceCube experiment. The virtual visit was a second event in the Open Discovery Space project series' 'Bringing Frontier Science to Schools'.

15th October 2014

Taking stock at the LHCP conference

I felt like I was returning home as I walked through the gates of Columbia University at 116th Street and Broadway, the day before the LHCP conference began. The scaffolding from the recently completed graduation ceremonies reminded me of my own PhD graduation thirteen years ago. The ubiquitous Columbia-blue signs of "Welcome back Alumni" seemed to be talking just to me.

17th June 2014

Are You Up for the Higgs Challenge?

It's been four weeks since the four-month long Higgs Machine Learning Challenge was announced. Almost 700 teams have signed up and more than 200 have beaten the in-house benchmark already.

16th June 2014

ATLAS Book Wins the IPPY Awards

"Hunting the Higgs", published by Papadakis Publishers in collaboration with the ATLAS Experiment won the Bronze prize in the Science category of the Independent Publisher Book Awards.

29th May 2014

"A hard day, with so much beauty"

ATLAS physicists travelled with Physics Without Frontiers 2014, a project run by International Centre for Theoretical Physics (ICTP), to three Palestinian universities this April to share the joy of scientific research with 140 students.

13th May 2014

ATLAS Connects with Science Fest Visitors

On 5 and 6 April, Michigan State University's ATLAS physicists who are based at CERN connected virtually via video-conference to visitors attending the annual Science Festival in East Lansing, USA, to talk about particle physics and what it is like to be a physicist.

29th April 2014

Crowds at ATLAS for CERN Open Days

More than 70,000 people visited CERN Open Days over the weekend, with 20,000 going underground to see the LHC tunnel and the detectors. Of these, an estimated 5,000 people visited the ATLAS exhibits aboveground, and another 2,500 had the opportunity to see the ATLAS detector.

2nd October 2013

Sharing the excitement of discovery

Only a few more days to go before CERN opens its doors and our universe becomes yours on 28 and 29 September. With 35 surface sites and seven underground visits available, there will be plenty of activities for visitors of all ages.

23rd September 2013

High-flying physics

Pernilla Craig earned her licence to fly last year aged just 17, making her one of UK’s youngest female pilots. A visit to CERN last week took her deep underground to see dectectors on the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), and into the sky above the Alps for a bird's eye view of the laboratory.

11th September 2013
11th September 2013

Granting a wish

Callum Kerr, 17, visited the ATLAS cavern on 8 July, with this family and a representative from Make-A-Wish Foundation.

10th July 2013
10th July 2013

Want a small scale LEGO® version of the ATLAS detector?

A small scale version of the ATLAS detector can be made available as an official LEGO® product, but I need people to vote for it at LEGO Cuusoo. We need 10,000 votes to be considered by LEGO®.

13th June 2013

ATLAS Results Presented Down Under at ICHEP 2012

Every other year, particle physicists gather together to share their latest results at the ICHEP (International Conference on High Energy Physics) conference. This year, more than 700 are attending the conference in Melbourne, Australia, July 4-11.

9th July 2012

Latest ATLAS Results to be Presented Down Under at ICHEP 2012

Every other year, particle physicists gather together to share their latest results at the ICHEP (International Conference on High Energy Physics) conference. This year, more than 700 are attending the conference in Melbourne, Australia, July 4-11.

2nd July 2012

What does 8 TeV mean?

Inspired by Regina Caputo’s excellent post on the CERN accelerator complex, I thought I should give you some fun facts about the LHC (in “human units”).

11th April 2012

Tweeting live #Higgs boson updates from #CERN

“If it’s just a fluctuation of background, it will take a lot of data to kill.” Dr. Fabiola Gianotti, spokesperson for the ATLAS collaboration, made this statement on Dec. 13, 2011 during a special seminar I attended at CERN. Within the minute that followed, I hurriedly concocted a tweet, tacked on #Higgs and #CERN hashtags, and sent Fabiola’s weighty comment out onto the WWW.

11th February 2012

The power of perception

If you ask a child to draw a physicist, they’ll usually draw you a disheveled man in a lab coat. But looking around the hundreds of physicists eating lunch at CERN today, I saw many women, only one or two that could be classified as disheveled, and zero lab coats. Yet this image persists.

16th November 2011
16th November 2011

ATLAS in Paris for a pop-up launch

It’s not every day you get to explain ATLAS to a group of journalists with just a pop-up book as a prop. But, as some readers might already know, this is no ordinary pop-up book. ATLAS and the LHC leap from the page in incredible detail thanks to paper engineer Anton Radevsky’s wonderful designs. A new edition of the book has just been released in French, so at the end of last month I found myself travelling in to the centre of Paris from Orsay for the press launch.

15th November 2011

Le Pop-Up d'ATLAS à Paris!

L'édition francophone de Voyage au Cœur de la Matière sortira le 25 octobre à Paris aux Editions Verlhac (diffusion Seuil). Ce livre animé dévoile une grande aventure scientifique moderne : l'extraordinaire quête menée par l'expérience ATLAS pour comprendre notre Univers.

18th October 2011

ATLAS goes Pop in Paris!

A new French edition of the ATLAS pop-up book, Voyage au Cœur de la Matière (Voyage to the Heart of Matter), will be officially launched from the exhibition Entrée en Matière at Paris' Trocadéro on Tuesday, October 25th.

18th October 2011

“La Nuit des Chercheurs” (Researchers’ Night)

Evening, Friday September 23rd. I came from Saclay (near Paris) to participate in the ‘Researchers’ Night’ event taking place across CERN as part of the European Researchers’ Night initiative. Students aged 13 to 18 were on their way from all around the local area to learn about what on earth it is we do at the mysterious “Point 1” – ATLAS’ home on the LHC ring. Three different groups of 10 or so students were to stay with the ATLAS team in the experiment’s control room from 6:00 p.m. until midnight, helping shifters to take data and monitor the experiment…

29th September 2011

Moonlighting as a Physicist

There was a lively buzz about the ATLAS Control Room last Friday night, September 23rd, as local high school students descended to get a closer look at just exactly what goes on at the front line of particle physics.

24th September 2011

Ars Atlastronica

So I’m back from the Ars Electronica 2011 festival in Linz, Austria. This year the guest of honor was CERN, to kickstart a cultural partnership which will endure over the next three years. The event was amazing, and the organization spotless. As Claudia mentioned in a previous post, CERN was well represented visually at the festival, mainly via a strong display of ATLAS multimedia throughout the many exhibit halls and events.

7th September 2011
7th September 2011

Science and art collide at Ars Electronica

Located in Linz, Austria, Ars Electronica is an exhibition centre and creative lab which “has been investigating the consequences of the Digital Revolution” since the late 1970’s. Ars Electronica holds a yearly festival that attracts thousands of people from Austria, Germany and the rest of the world. This year, the theme of the festival, which is happening in collaboration with CERN, is ‘Origin – how it all begins’.

4th September 2011


Beneath our feet on this warm November night, we have realized the ancient dream of turning lead into gold.

7th November 2010
7th November 2010

ATLAS celebrating the International Women's day!

Today ATLAS celebrates the role of women in physics its own way. ATLAS has encouraged its staff and users to place as many women as possible on shift in the control room and to serve as guides for official visits.

8th March 2010

Multimedia contest launched

A new multimedia contest has been set up to put talented young filmmakers and science communicators in touch with ATLAS.

4th May 2009

Higgs finds the Higgs at RAL

On Friday, March 13th, British high school student Jonathan Higgs discovered the elusive Higgs boson among the simulated particle tracks in Minerva – a special form of ATLAS' event display program, Atlantis, designed for students in the International Particle Physics Masterclasses.

1st April 2009

A comic takes on CERN

If you want insight into the lives of graduate students, look no further than Jorge Cham’s Piled Higher and Deeper comic series, detailing the trials and tribulations of earning a PhD. He brought his well-honed observational humour to CERN, meeting with a few graduate students and post-docs for a slice of life at the world’s largest physics experiment.

24th March 2009


Twenty-eight-year-old Josef Kristofoletti is a traveling artist. On the site documenting the work of his group, transitantenna.com, he writes: "I am taking a survey of American mural painting in all of its forms, looking for the best pictures across the land, and painting some along the way." One of these paintings is an image of the ATLAS detector, a 13 x 7 metre mural on the side of the Redux Contemporary Art Center in South Carolina, entitled "Angel of the Higgs Boson".

9th March 2009
9th March 2009

Tinseltown pays us a visit

ATLAS got a little taste of Tinseltown on February 12th, as director Ron Howard, and actors Tom Hanks and Ayelet Zurer rolled into town to promote their new film – an adaption of Dan Brown’s bestseller Angels and Demons.

25th February 2009

The wanderer returns

Over Christmas, we followed the progress of ATLAS collaborator, Katharine Leney, as she and her boyfriend Pierre drove across Europe and Africa in a beaten up second hand car, to raise money for development charities working in Africa.

12th January 2009
12th January 2009

Socio-Economic Perspectives on ATLAS

Building the ATLAS detector has been a mammoth and innovative project. Sociologists, economists, and entrepreneurs have studied how such projects benefit society and the economy. The ATLAS collaboration has a number of unique characteristics, because of the size of the project, together with its complex scientific nature. It is the largest collaborative effort ever attempted in the physical sciences with more than 2200 physicists from 38 countries.

15th June 2008

German Chancellor Merkel visits ATLAS

German Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel made a historic visit to CERN at the end of last month. During her brief 1.5 hours on site, she was taken on a whistle-stop tour of the ATLAS control room and cavern, and given the chance to look down on the largest particle physics experiment in the world from a dizzying height of 100 metres through the access shaft which links the massive underground cavern to the surface.

1st May 2008

Great Interest as ATLAS and CERN Open to Public

They say there’s no such thing as bad publicity, but how would recent attempts in a Hawaiian court to stop the opening of the LHC because of safety concerns affect the general public’s perception of CERN? The Open Day on 5-6 April gave the ATLAS Collaboration a chance to find out.

7th April 2008

Atlas.ch Website Surpasses 1 Million Hits in 2007

The anticipation on site in Switzerland is tangible as the final steps in the construction of the ATLAS detector get underway, ahead of the LHC switch-on later this year. But whilst all the hard work is going on down in the pit, a small team of people are toiling equally hard to bring that sense of excitement and wonder out into the wider world, and throw open a window onto what will be the biggest experiment in the history of human kind.

1st April 2008

Norwegian teachers visit ATLAS

"It's amazing that you have to build something so huge to measure such extremely small things," said Tom Christiansen from Telemark in Norway, after visiting the ATLAS cavern. His sentiment about the size of the ATLAS detector was shared by the thirty–one other physics teachers who, together with Tom, attended the first Norwegian Teacher Programme run at CERN, in November 2007.

11th December 2007

ESA/NASA astronaut Christer Fuglesang visits the ATLAS cavern

On 14 June, 2007, ESA/NASA astronaut Christer Fuglesang visited the ATLAS cavern. A former CERN fellow working on ATLAS, Christer went on to become the first Swedish astronaut and participated in the STS-116 Space Shuttle mission to the International Space Station last December.

14th June 2007

Professor Stephen Hawking visits the ATLAS cavern

On Tuesday 26 September 2006 the ATLAS Collaboration was honoured by a very special visit to the detector in the underground cavern by Professor Stephen Hawking, the famous cosmologist holding the post of Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at Cambridge University (position held by Isaac Newton in the 17th century).

27th September 2006