Accelerating Science in Turkey

“It’s been a very busy day,” says Bilge Demirkoz, associate professor of physics at METU and a member of AMS-02. “As the university doesn’t have a specific exhibition space, the CERN exhibits are going to be housed in the covered tennis courts just behind the cultural and congress centre. It’s a beautiful venue, and there are plenty of parking spaces.”

The university has invited high schools and about 100 Turkish universities with physics departments to the exhibition. Bilge and her colleagues are also launching a media campaign and website(in Turkish) to encourage the general public to come. “There’s a lot of interest in the search for the Higgs here, but also misunderstanding about particle physics,” explains Bilge. “So the Department of Physics wanted the exhibition to come to Turkey to clear up some of that misunderstanding. It’s also important in the context of Turkey’s ongoing negotiations concerning its future status at CERN.”

President of METU Ahmet Acar says the university is very pleased to host the CERN exhibition at their Ankara Campus. "I trust it will help students and lay people of all ages better to understand the nature and significance of CERN research,” he says.

The exhibition was recently enriched with new animations and hands-on displays that will be shown for the first time in Turkey. “We’ve been working on an interactive exhibit called ETAPE, which stands for the Energy Timeline of Accelerators and Particle Experiments,” explains Joaõ Pequenaõ, a multimedia developer from the CERN Media Lab. He and Henrique Carvalho, a Portuguese student from LIP Minho, have been working on the software for the exhibit, while Joaõ Bárcia, also from the Media Lab, is responsible for the innovative touch-screen hardware in the device. On two huge touch-screens, visitors can select a particle physics accelerator based on its position on an "energy timeline" designed to demonstrate how collisions in new accelerators have become more and more energetic. “Press the 'Hit' button and a 3D animation of a particle collision appears on the screen, revealing which energies are needed to produce which particles,” says Pequenaõ.

Preparations are in full swing for the grand opening of the exhibition on 2 April, which will be attended by CERN's Director-General Rolf Heuer and Emmanuel Tsesmelis, CERN's advisor for Turkey. "This exhibition will be another important step in bringing Turkey and CERN closer together,” says Tsesmelis.