The Royal Albert Hall has announced a brand-new scientific research partnership with CERN, which will see the 145-year-old building used as a scaled-down version of the Large Hadron Collider.
Using the Hall’s distinctive circular shape, some of the venue’s brightest scientific minds will be carrying out particle collision experiments in the corridors of the Grade I listed building.
Since opening in 1871 as the Royal Albert Hall of Arts and Sciences, the venue has proudly celebrated the best of the world’s latest scientific developments and has welcomed the likes of Albert Einstein, Stephen Hawking and Peter Mandelson for high-profile talks over the years.
Now, it hopes to make scientific discoveries of its own as particles will be fired around its corridors at high speed in the hopes that some science will happen.
The Hall’s Chief Operating Officer, James Ainscough, welcomed journalists this morning in the venue’s Wim Jonk Memorial Suite to officially launch the new project, announcing:
‘We’ve played host to everyone from The Beatles to Adele, but what we’ve never had here before is particles. This project will change all that.’
‘We were as impressed as anyone when CERN announced that they had found the ‘God particle’, but frankly they don’t seem to have done much since, so we thought we would help.’
James Ainscough, Royal Albert Hall
CERN’s Large Hadron Collider (LHC), located near Geneva, Switzerland, is the world’s largest and most powerful particle collider and remains the biggest, most complex experimental facility ever built.
Whilst those overseeing the Hall’s smaller version may not come with the scientific know-how of the European Organisation for Nuclear Research who built the LHC, they are determined to ‘try their best’, a commitment shared with their friends in Switzerland.
The idea came after Prof. Brian Cox, the ‘rock star physicist’, suggested the venture when he appeared at a live orchestral screening of Interstellar last year.
As it transpired, Cox’s suggestion was actually a joke, but by the time this was realised, the Hall had fully constructed the Small Halldron Collider.
Transforming the Hall
Transforming one of the Hall’s corridors into a state-of-the-art particle collider is no simple task, and staff have been busy making adaptations to create the ideal conditions for physics to work.
Tasks involved include adding signage alerting visitors about the particles in the corridors and extra cleaning of the floors and walls to remove unwanted particles.
Fortunately, the team have been able to learn from early trials held last month, which saw Status Quo’s Francis Rossi struck in the groin by a particle during rehearsal, prompting a leading science expert to say the Hall had ‘literally no idea what they’re doing’.
After sending staff on a two-day course, the venue are confident that the team now understand the complexities of particle physics and supersymmetric theories.
Professor Peter Haynes is one of the doubters who the Hall plan to prove wrong. The Professor of Theory and Simulation of Materials from Imperial College has slight concerns with the project, stating:
‘It is absolutely impossible to build a Small Hadron Collider at the Hall, because the building is oval rather than circular, so it will never work.’
Professor Peter Haynes
The Hall hopes that a different approach to doing science will help resolve this issue, with a spokesman silencing these doubts by leading staff and journalists in an emotional singing of Gershwin classic, They All Laughed.
Got a view? Get involved in the debate on social media, using the hashtag #HalldronCollider.