Step Into The Large Hadron Collider At The Science Museum

The Large Hadron Collider at CERN in Switzerland is a marvel of scientific engineering. After its discovery of the Higgs Boson the time is ripe for an exhibition all about it – and the Science Museum has obliged.

The exhibition kicks off with a ten minute video filled with interesting facts such as, at 27km in circumference the main synchotron is roughly as long as the Circle line, but it quickly descends into trying to convince the audience of how emotional the research is. It also comes across as patronising at times and tries too hard to be funny yet never succeeds, except for a brief cameo by Brian Cox.

After the video completes the exhibition opens up and, credit to the curators of this exhibition, they haven’t made it fact heavy or tried to drown visitors in particle physics speak. There are interesting artefacts including sections of the tube that protons must travel down at the speed of light, mocked up reports, video presentations and scrawled equations.

By breaking it all up into snippets rather than blocks of text, the exhibition remains interactive but it never feels like it has a cohesive narrative. It also does a great job of explaining what the Large Hadron Collider is but not what it does nor the gravity of what it has achieved.

The exhibition struggles to decide whether it wants to focus on the attributes or the personnel of CERN thus never fully achieving either. The design and look of the layout is brilliant but the central video presentation looks very high tech, yet it’s unclear what it achieves.  This contrast of good and bad elements continues throughout the show and is what prevents it from feeling like a complete exhibition.

Collider is on at Science Museum until 5 June 2014. Tickets are £10 for adults, £7 concessions. 

Also on at the Science Museum is an interesting display on 3D printing and photography in their brand new media space. Entrance to both of these is free.

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Tabish Khan 2

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  • losteniraq@yahoo.com

    In 2015 the “Large Hadron Collider” may achieve nuclear fusion. That is if they can create a vacuum which could contain this energy, they could create an energy source greater than that of the Sun. Or they may simply create a Micro Black Hole which will continue to grow and absorb all particles around it, to include the Earth, Sun, and the rest of the Universe. This is what happened during the Big Bang, and History will repeat itself again.

  • bishopbenj

    Good review. Agree about patronising and the exhibition just gave a few facts and attempted to inspire. Not successfully. Where was the description of why the research is important, some way of seeing the actual results. What’s is the Haggs Boson, why are only 2000 out of 400000 events ‘interesting’, how is that determined, how so the detectors detect, why are 2 beams move at nearly speed of light not collidingat nearly twice speed of light and soon… so many questions provoked and so little information.