Drone camerawork brings physics fans closer to ALICE in CERN’s wonderland

9 Mar 2015

Still from 'Flying over ALICE' by ALICE Experiment on YouTube

As CERN prepares to restart its Large Hadron Collider experiments this spring, the nuclear research team has released drone-captured footage of the ALICE detector from 60 metres underground.

The exclusive aerial video sequence which has been uploaded to YouTube begins with an overview of CERN’s massive facility, taking up a 27km ring beneath the Franco-Swiss border near Geneva, Switzerland. Zooming into the ALICE base, footage captured by a drone then takes viewers to the ALICE control room and then to the underground telescope.

This giant apparatus weighs more than the Eiffel Tower and is equipped with state-of-the-art particle detection technologies, including high-precision systsms for particle identification and tracking, ultra-miniaturised electronics for fast signal processing and the world’s largest warm magnet driven by an electric current of 30,000 amperes.

This colossal laboratory equipment is located at CERN’s LHC Interaction Point 2 in St Genis-Pouilly, France where engineers and technicians have been working to consolidate all of ALICE’s components in preparation for the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) restart.

LHC experiments are expected to resume at the end of March 2015 following two years of repairs, maintenance and strengthening in order to run the collider at higher energy than ever before.

ALICE – A Large Ion Collider Experiment – is one of the LHC’s four detectors along with ATLAS, CMS and LHCb. Described by CERN as an undergrond telescope aimed at the first instants of the Big Bang, ALICE collects reference data during the LHC proton-proton collisions, detecting tens of thousands of charged particle tracks for a single ultra-relativistic heavy ion collision.

In the ALICE control room, a team of more than 1,500 collaborators use worldwide, open-source grid software called AliEn (ALICE Environment) to analyse this data.

Elaine Burke is the host of For Tech’s Sake, a co-production from Silicon Republic and The HeadStuff Podcast Network. She was previously the editor of Silicon Republic.