On 14 and 15 September CERN opened its doors to the public on the occasion of its Open Days, a unique opportunity to witness the incredible work going on behind the scenes of this unique organisation, whose mission is to answer the fundamental questions of the universe. More than 75,000 visitors of all ages and backgrounds came to CERN’s many visit points, with more than 100 activities, guided by 3,000 dedicated and passionate volunteers eager to share the wonders of this unique place to work.
CERN is the world’s largest particle physics research centre. It is an incredible place, with its myriad of accelerators, detectors, computing infrastructure and experiments that serve to research the origins of our universe. Seeing it for oneself is the only way to understand and realise the sheer enormity of what is going on here. We traditionally have over 110’000 visitors per year coming to CERN, numbers that grow all the time. It is a very popular place to visit at any time as its ranking on Tripadvisor confirms.
Every five years, CERN enters a ‘Long shutdown’ phase for essential upgrades and maintenance work which last several months, and this is the ideal opportunity to open CERN up to the public with its ‘Open days’, for people to see, experience and integrate what science on this scale actually looks like. The theme of these open days was “Explore the future with us”, with the aim to engage visitors in how we work at CERN, engage them in the process of science, human endeavour driven by values of openness, diversity and peaceful collaboration.
You can of course visit CERN at any time, although on a more reduced scale than the open days. While in operation, the Large Hadron Collider and detectors are clearly inaccessible. In the regular annual shutdown periods, limited underground visits are possible but cannot be guaranteed, however there are many interesting places to be visited above ground at all times, with free of charge visits and tours on offer. Furthermore, if coming in person is not feasible, people can take virtual tours notably of the LHC and the computing centre.
Who works at CERN? A common misconception about CERN is that all employees work in physics. CERN’s mission is to uncover the mysteries of our universe and is known as the largest physics laboratory in the world, so in many ways this misconception comes from a logical assumption. What is probably less tangible and less well understood by the public is that to achieve this level of cutting edge particle physics research, you need the infrastructure and tools to perform it: the accelerators, detectors, technology, computing and a whole host of other disciplines. CERN employs 2600 staff members to build, operate and maintain this infrastructure that is in turn used by a worldwide community of physicists to perform their world-class research.
Of the 2600 staff members, only 3% are research physicists – CERN’s core hiring needs are for engineers and technicians and support staff in a wide variety of disciplines, spanning electricity, mechanics, electronics, material science, vacuum, and of course computing. Let’s not forget that CERN is the birth place of the world wide web and advances in computing are key here – it’s a great place to work as a software or hardware engineer!
Working at CERN is enriching on so many levels, it is a privilege to be a part of this Organization which has such a noble mission, uniting people from all over the world with values that truly speak to me: diversity, commitment, creativity, integrity and professionalism. Every day is a new opportunity to learn, discover and grow. The benefits of working at CERN are plentiful, and the quality of life offered in the Geneva region is remarkable. We often say it’s working in a place like nowhere else on earth! So don’t hesitate to come find out for yourself, on a visit or … by joining us as a student, a graduate or a professional. Apply now and take part! https://careers.cern