It’s not often that we see genuinely interesting technology-related exhibitions on this side of the world. Since late last year, Singapore’s ArtScience Museum has been changing that with its ongoing exhibition on the Large Hadron Collider called “Collider: The World’s Greatest Experiment”. Naturally, we had to take a look.
The Large Hadron Collider is considered to be one of the most important human experiments in recent memory, as Man attempts to identify the most minute particles that make up an atom – which in turn makes up everything we see (and don’t see) in this world.
As someone with only a passing knowledge of physics, the exhibition does well to engage casual visitors like me on the basics of particle physics (beyond what binge-watching The Big Bang Theory has “taught” me). Scattered throughout the exhibition area are posters, whiteboards and even a cool video demonstration that uses simple images and charts to explain the process of smashing to atoms at near-light speeds – which is what the Large Hadron Collider is all about.
Located in Europe beneath the borders of France and Switzerland, the Large Hadron Collider (or LHC) was built by CERN, the European Organisation for Nuclear Research. If you’ve read Dan Brown’s “Angels and Demons”, this bit of information would be instantly familiar.
However, the exhibition focuses not on fiction, but on the efforts made by the 10,000 or so employees working round the clock underground. Visitors would not only see the smallest bits of hardware and circuit boards used (or were tested for use) in the LHC, but also have an idea of the scale of the LHC itself – the ring with which particles are accelerated as close as possible to the speed of light measure 27km long.
An electromagnetic calorimeter (ECAL) crystal, used to detect particles via the amount of light they produce. Each one measures about the length of a human arm, and takes two days to grow. This particular crystal is a spare unit, one of 76,000 that were grown for the LHC.
About halfway through the exhibition, visitors are invited to watch a short video (about five minutes long) that portrays, among other things, life working at the LHC and a reenactment of the historic discovery of the Higgs-Boson particle.
Towards the end, there’s even a mockup of the workspace of the employees at the LHC. Posters featuring physics-related jokes, events and personal photos are faithfully represented.
One of the highlights for me: a news report of how a piece of baguette that fell from the sky short-circuited one of the cooling systems, causing an entire stretch of the 27km ring to overheat by 3 degrees Celcius. The facility’s operations were shut down for three days.
In all, the exhibition would take no more than an hour at most to cover in its entirety. Visitors can then visit other attractions at the museum, such as the “The Nobel Prize: Ideas Changing the World” exhibition, which is free to enter.
The “Collider: The World’s Greatest Experiment” exhibition runs until 14 February 2016. “The Nobel Prize: Ideas Changing the World” exhibition ends on the 24th January 2016. Head on to the official website for more details and ticket purchases.