The German research centre DESY opened its doors to the public on 7 November, a day now known as DESY DAY. More than 18000 visitors came to see real accelerators, braving long queues and Hamburg drizzle to walk through parts of the European XFEL, PETRA or HERA accelerators, to visit DESY’s workshops and partner labs on campus, learn about vacuum, magnetism, cryo technology, molecular biology, crystal and much more. Some of them even discovered the Higgs, which was roaming around on campus, happy to be photographed.
At the stand of DESY’s linear collider groups, visitor could try a magnetic linear accelerator, cable a detector prototype and even play electron in an accelerator tunnel. In a mocked up linac tunnel stretching a couple of metres and ending in a crash mat, children accelerated like electrons in a cavity and even had their average speed measured. “We recorded every of the approximately 3000 runs,” explained Marc Wenskat of DESY’s linear collider accelerator group, one of more than 1200 volunteers who tirelessly explained to visitors what they do all day, and why. “Considering that most kids had more than one go, we estimate that some 1500 kids visited our stand – probably about equal to the number of children on site!” For the next open day – planned again to coincide with Hamburg’s Night of Science in two years – the team is considering to turn the crash mat into a calorimeter to measure the runner’s impact and make it even more of a linear collider experience.
All images: Axel Heimken, DESY/European XFEL