The Sweet Sounds of Particles Colliding

When it comes to pushing the boundaries of science, you need to look no further than the European Organization for Nuclear Research (or CERN). Based in Geneva, Switzerland, CERN is a complex of particle accelerators and detectors—the most well-known being their Large Hadron Collider (or LHC), which is the world’s most powerful particle accelerator. Now, you might reasonably ask, “Why are we accelerating particles?” At the core of these experiments is one true objective: to find out what the Universe is made of. Experiments that take place at CERN, and specifically the LHC, attempt to break things (particles) apart to get a better look at their composition. 

The information coming out of CERN is fascinating!  That being said, it’s not always easy to comprehend. Even CERN scientists themselves work hard to understand the data they’re producing, never mind the casual science enthusiast who probably doesn’t have several advanced degrees in physics! Lucky for us, CERN has taken into account its audience and has created new and innovative ways to relay their data back to the public. 

One of CERN's particle colliders: ATLAS Image of ATLAS taken from CERN 

Enter onto the scene: the Quantizer. No need to interpret equations or graphs because the Quantizer instead takes data from the LHC’s ATLAS detector and converts it into music! The “sonification” engine takes the data from collision events and shifts it into the audible range. The music might sound a little… out of this world, but it’s definitely a composition not to be missed. Find the link to the live stream in the references section! 

In addition to the Quantizer, CERN in 2011 started a program called COLLIDE, which works to bring artistic interpretation to particle physics. COLLIDE offers three-month fellowships at CERN for artists to come explore and create. The art created spans many mediums, from film, to dance, to digital. The mysteries of our world are too beautiful and profound to not give our fullest attention, and thanks to the help of the people at CERN we are now able to experience the Universe with as many senses as possible.  



Related Tags

About the Author

Sarah Wells
Digital Media Intern

Sarah Wells is a rising senior at Clark University and hails from Montpelier, Vermont. She is majoring in English with a double minor in physics and computer science.