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Website of the Week - "Where physics and life collide"

Website of the Week - “. . . where physics and life collide”

The “no exploding cars” sign on Route Rutherford at CERN. (Presumably, it forbids vehicles of 30 tons or more from carrying inflammable loads.) Image courtesy

Face it, few physics, engineering or computing institutions resemble the fictional setting of “Angels and Demons,” in which marble-columned, ivy-covered, red-brick buildings placed upon rolling green lawns represent the geometrically symmetrical  grounds of a well-known physics research center.

In our experience, most such facilities bear more resemblance to the labyrinth of an eternal construction site — a style in which they seem to take a perverse pride. (Ever see the MIT Campus Subterranean Map?)

Consequently, in CERN’s case, visitors find themselves wondering why Building 58 is between Building 3 and Building 4.

Or why there is a viewing platform atop a water tower with a permanently locked base.

Phrases such as “strange particles” seem to erupt naturally from such a landscape.

To explain these mysteries, and delve into their sneaking, cantankerous, eccentric charm, a website called was set up last year.

“Lovingly created by several individuals whose lives are inextricably bound to CERN and to each other,” the site says its goal is “to enlighten the world as to the inner workings of the scientific and cultural juggernaut that is CERN . . . a very unique place on this planet, (whose) joys, frustrations and mysteries permeate our daily lives.”

The answer to the numbering system is on the page entitled “Building Numbers Revealed.”

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