When we visited CERN’s Large Hadron Collider last year, there wasn’t much noise. The massive particle accelerator facility took a two-year break for repairs, and that break meant a rare opportunity for people to experience things fewer risk.
Apparently it was considerably noisier last month, but that had nothing to do with the facilities becoming operational again. As part of an initiative called Ex/Noise/CERN, ATLAS (A Toroidal LHC ApparatuS) invited physicist Dr. James Beacham performs experimental indie band Deerhoof at CERN’s magnet testing facility, SM-18, in celebration of the LHC’s ramp up to 13 TeV. On site, Beacham wanted the band to experiment with noise and music, just as his team experiments with particle physics.
“Musical curiosity is comparable to scientific curiosity, and on a personal level, Deerhoof has inspired me as much as Einstein,” Beacham said in a press release about the project. “They are explorers and this sense of exploration is what you feel in the air CERN now, and thus the coupling of Deerhoof and CERN was natural.”
The day-long session was captured in the video above in CERN’s latest art project. Deerhoof also spoke to ATLAS physicists about the experience and what they learned while touring the facility on an accompanying podcast.
“Ex/Noise/CERN is about exploring the unknown,” Beacham said. “During run 2 of the LHC, we’re not sure what we’ll find — extra Higgs bosons, dark matter, cracks in the Standard Model — and when we brought Deerhoof to CERN, we weren’t sure what they’d do in SM-18. But like the best scientists, they were curious, daring and embraced the unknown – with spectacular results.”
More experimental noise from the Ex/Noise/CERN project can be found here, and a high-resolution version of the Deerhoof performance is available. For the best experience, CERN’s release notes recommend using that version, watching it on the largest screen possible in a dark room, and donning a pair of Grados.