Saturday, August 2, 2014

Physicists - they're just like us!

Bonjour weekend! How we've pined for you all week here at the House of Hadron! So far we've had a wonderful and busy Saturday: we slept in, actually were able to enjoy hot coffee together while playing with Oswin, got in a little thrifting at one of my favorite french second hand stores, made a quick trip for organizational supplies to IKEA (pronounced ee-key-uh here in SwitzerFrance), and best of all: a trip to the CERN gift shop to procure a little birthday present for a soon to be little birthday boy back in the United States. 

It's been a long time since I've been to the CERN gift shop. In fact, it's been awhile since I've spent any real time at CERN, which is unfortunate. I used to be there practically everyday, either having lunch with Dan, studying for my OT boards, memorizing dialogue for Bikram Yoga Teacher Training, parking my bike before taking the tram into Geneva for yoga, etc. I was pleased as punch to see some new awesomeness in the gift shop, such as hoodies for little babes (which I may or may not have gotten to add to Oswin's CERN swag collection), fun Quark themed coloring pencils, and a few new books. Like this one:

You know it's good if we picked up a copy right then and there.

What do I love about this book? It's like the photographer was married to one of the scientists or something. It really is an insider's outside look into life at CERN, if that makes sense. I don't understand what Dan does, not for lack of trying mind you, I've always just been more of a biological and anatomical science kind of gal. If I can't see it I have difficulty conceptualizing it. But what I do know is CERN life. I know the days on end of Dan (and a lot of our other friends) getting an hour or two of sleep. I know the often strange online meeting schedule to sync up with the United States. I know the all night shifts. I know the ring tone on the shifter phone at 3 am. I know there's a good chance he'll have to answer a Skpe call or chat message during dinner. I know when he hasn't stopped to eat lunch (or much of anything else aside from coffee) in 4 days because he just hasn't had the time. I know that coming home doesn't mean being offline (ever), and that trying to be offline will cause other physicists to think you died in a car accident (no joke). Physicists (and their families) live and breathe CERN and physics, whether they have their PhD or not. It's why we get to live this crazy awesome life here in SwitzerFrance, but it can also be just plain crazy at times. That's part of the reason why we love it because there is never a dull moment.

This book is not one that will possibly bore or confuse you if you're not into physics, as it doesn't talk about the ins and outs of the going ons at CERN, but it shows real life through its photographs. The physicist sleeping at his desk because he's probably been up for 4 nights straight working on code. The office with a very cool vintage Sean Connery poster. The veteran scientist who is annoyed that there are no clean coffee mugs at the coffee area, and does he really need to wash one? The line for the microwave. The suitcases next to the physicist who rather than check into the hostel or a hotel upon arriving in Geneva, went straight from her overnight flight to work a full day at CERN, because that's what physicists do (and they really really really do). The overflowing office fridge because some people basically live there. The lined up empty red bulls, coca-colas, and bottles of red wine. The gorgeousness of the collidor and everything that it entails. The office plants, both dead and alive. The messy offices. The lunch line at R1. The meetings over coffee. The meetings to discuss huge discoveries. The mini Christmas tree on a shared desk. CERN is really like a big exclusive college campus, complete with extracurriculars and ID badges, and this book does a really good job of showing true life here. Physicists, they really ARE just like us, just with some really big and expensive toys that can tell us more about the universe than we ever thought possible.

Want to check out this book but can't book a flight to Geneva to pick one up? Well it looks like there are a few copies left here. Keep in mind this isn't a sponsored a post, we definitely ponied up the CHF today to buy this, I just really am digging it and thought I'd share for those science minded individuals out there. It's a really beautiful, accurate and often funny look into our lives here in SwitzerFrance, at least the CERN side of it.  

A la prochaine friends...


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