CERN offers glimpse of Cold War-era science research (photos)

20 Oct 2014

Equipment used for generating and testing ozone gas, February 1970. Image via CERN

Long before its particle accelerator, the Large Hadron Collider, CERN has been undertaking thousands of hours of scientific research, many of which have been photographed and are being put online.

The photos, which have recently been uncovered deep within the organisation’s archives, total just over 120,000. They had been taken beginning in 1955, a year after CERN’s foundation, to 1985, and are now being uploaded at a rate of several hundred per week. 

However, the biggest challenge for those compiling the photos appears to be giving them the correct captions, as a lack of documentation, and the expected passage of time, has left many of the scientists and researchers included in the photos without a name or even what they are researching.

That is why the European Organization for Nuclear Research, known as CERN, is now turning to the power of the internet to see if relatives or those particularly in the know about CERN’s endeavours could help identify individuals in the shots.

Fourteen albums worth of photos have been uploaded so far, covering topics including radioactivity testing, ozone testing and even the flooding of CERN’s headquarters in 1963.

Despite these images being digitised by those within the science community, many of them are left baffled as to what most of the instruments in the photos had even been used for.

All captions used in the photos posted online so far are genuine CERN captions.

Who is this man, and what is he paying so much attention to? March 1970. Image via CERN

No idea …, August 1969. Image via CERN

Mmmm, (open?) data??? Image via CERN

A flywheel from a car?! Surely not … May 1973. Image via CERN

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Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic