The 'Collider' exhibition also features a replica of the office belonging to scientist who discovered the Higgs boson. (Photo courtesy of the Science Museum)

A Powerful Collision of Art and Science


SEPTEMBER 22, 2015

Singapore. Since it opened its doors in February 2011, the ArtScience Museum at Marina Bay Sands in Singapore has brought many exciting exhibitions to the Lion City, as it aims to explore the relationship between art, science, technology and culture.

The museum hosted touring exhibitions that included the works of world-famous artists such as Leonardo da Vinci, Salvador Dali and Andy Warhol, but it also presented exhibitions following the theme of scientific history, such as “Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition,” “Mummy: Secrets of the Tomb” or “Dinosaurs: Dawn to Extinction.”

This November, “Collider,” an award-winning exhibition developed by the Science Museum in London, will invite visitors to dive into the mysterious and highly fascinating world of particle physics.

Located beneath the border between Switzerland and France, the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN (the European Organization for Nuclear Research) is the world’s largest and most powerful particle accelerator which was added to CERN’s accelerator complex in 2008. It took 10 years to build the LHC, and could only be accomplished with the help of over 10,000 scientists and engineers from more than 100 different countries.

The LHC  is being used by thousands of scientists and engineers around the world to learn more about the tiny building blocks that make up our universe and the laws that govern their behavior.

The exhibition “Collider” reveals an authentic look into the LHC. In a recreation of the site that combines different mediums such as theater, video, sound art and real artifacts from CERN, visitors can walk around the circular LHC tunnel which is 27 kilometers long and features cathedral-sized detector caverns.

"The LHC is a truly global scientific project, involving scientists and engineers from over a hundred countries,” says Harry Cliff, Fellow of Modern Science at the Science Museum in London. “More than 400,000 people visited the ‘Collider’ exhibition during its European tour and it's fantastic that a new Southeast Asian audience will get a chance to see the exhibition for the first time at ArtScience Museum.”

Delving deeper in the LHC, visitors will follow the journey of particle beams as they are injected into the accelerator chain, ramped up to speed and steered around the LHC tunnel.

They will then reach the masterpiece of the exhibition: a wrap-around 270-degree projection that showcases the two extremes of the scale of the LHC, from an enormous experiment cavern, to the very heart of a particle collision.

“This extraordinary exhibition puts visitors in the heart of an experiment that recreates the conditions that existed just after the Big Bang occurred 13.8 billion years ago,” says Honor Hager, executive director of ArtScience Museum.

“The LHC is designed to answer some of the most fundamental questions we have about the universe. It has already been responsible for the 21st century's most exciting scientific discovery – the Higgs boson, and every week it generates incredible new science, which is shaping the way we understand the world.

"This deeply immersive exhibition blends theater, film and science to give visitors a flavor of the life and the community of the LHC. Thus, it is a perfect representation of ArtScience Museum's ongoing efforts to showcase the interrelation of art, science and technology.”

Some astonishing facts and figures accompany “Collider." For instance, the precise circumference of the LHC accelerator is almost the same length as the London Underground Circle Line, and it houses 9300 magnets inside. Or, when in operation, trillions of protons race around the LHC accelerator ring 11245 times per second; around 600 million collisions happen every second.

Besides the scientific approach, visitors to the exhibition also get a glimpse into the work life of a researcher with a close look at their desks and benches.

The LHC has even made it into popular culture. Prominently featured in Dan Brown’s mystery novel “Angels & Demons,” the film adaptation featured scenes that were shot on site. Director Ron Howard reportedly set up meetings with CERN experts to portray the storyline more accurately.

The exhibition “Collider” was designed for both adults and teenagers, and since it is visually impressive yet extremely informative at the same time, it manages to convey the fascination of physics that may be lost on the “ordinary citizen” due to its complicated nature and helps to bring the complex inner workings of the universe closer to them – and that is perhaps the biggest achievement of this exhibition. "Collider" Opens on Nov. 14 ArtScience Museum at Marina Bay Sands 10 Bayfront Avenue Singapore