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Feast on CERN science at the Automnales


Charlotte Lindberg Warakaulle is the Director for International Relations.

As guest of honour at Geneva’s annual Automnales, CERN has an unprecedented opportunity to engage with its neighbours

In this season of mists and mellow fruitfulness, CERN is set to display its full bounty at this year’s Automnales: Geneva’s annual fair of all things to do with the home. As guest of honour, CERN has a prime piece of Palexpo real estate in which to engage with the expected 150 000 visitors. It’s an unprecedented opportunity for us to meet our neighbours and share our mission. CERN’s pride of place at the Automnales concludes an incredibly rich year of outreach – more than doubling the participation in our annual Researchers’ Night, a successful presentation of our contribution to the sustainable development goals at the UN Open Day, a celebration of World Teachers’ Day, our very first Dark Matter Day and our second participation in the WOMAD music festival – to name just a few.  

Like all attractions, CERN suffers from the proximity effect: people come from around the world to see us, while our neighbours go to see the world. That’s why we were thrilled to receive the invitation to be guest of honour at this year’s Automnales.

The fair is an opportunity for us to engage with people who might have lost touch with their inner scientist. Covering 1000 m2, the CERN stand will give visitors a spectacular overview of what CERN is all about, with the Brout-Englert-Higgs mechanism being just the icing on the cake. Technology, applications, collaboration and spin-offs will all feature prominently. The stand will also provide us with a showcase to explain how CERN contributes to the region.

Among the stand’s highlights will be the now-famous proton football game and the increasingly popular virtual reality films of the CERN Data Centre and CMS. Demonstrations range from a multimedia-based proton therapy game to hands-on physics activities. An auditorium for interactive presentations and a cinema showing CERN-related films are also included. Souvenirs to take away include posters, a range of CERN-inspired temporary tattoos and some surprising sugar packets: if you ever wondered how much of the sugar you stir into your coffee is stardust, or how many calories there really are in a packet of sugar, come to Palexpo to find out.

The stand will be equipped with interactive screens allowing visitors to explore CERN at their own pace. There will be a clickable world map showing the full extent of CERN’s collaborations, and a large-scale map of the region where everybody can situate their own home with respect to CERN. Having whetted their appetites at Palexpo,  members of the public will be able to sign up for a visit after the event.

All in all, it is set to be a veritable cornucopia of science, served up by those best placed to do so: you. Because front and centre will be our greatest asset: our people. It is the passion for science, the pride in our work and our mission that really touches our visitors and all of those who engage with us when we reach out locally and globally. Thanks to our over 160 volunteers for your commitment and for sharing your pride in CERN. The Automnales – and all our other outreach initiatives – would not be possible without you. And to those of you planning to visit, enjoy the autumnal feast!

To know more about the Automnales follow this link.