On Friday, 11 March, a delegation of internationally acclaimed fiction writers visited CERN as part of an undertaking pairing authors with CERN scientists to explore the science and theory behind CERN's work through fiction. The writers included science-fiction author Ian Watson (whose credits include the screen story for the film A.I.), BBC National Short Story Award winner Lucy Caldwell, and novelist and screenwriter Courttia Newland (who recently worked with director Steve McQueen on the award-winning Small Axe series). During their stay, the writers visited CMS, the Antiproton Decelerator, the Data Centre and the Synchrocyclotron.
The project is supported by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) as part of HL-LHC-UK phase 2 and has been devised as an alternative to the usual process of reflecting on, and disseminating, new research ideas. Writers and scientists work together to exchange ideas, with the latter acting as consultants to make sure the science is accurately represented. The scientists also write short afterwords to accompany the finished fictions, explaining and contextualising the story's science in an accessible way to the general reader. The project is part of the wider “science-into-fiction” series initiated by Comma Press, a British publishing house, which has produced seven books to date. The project is coordinated by the University of Manchester and Cockcroft Institute, and CERN. The stories inspired by this visit and the various surrounding consultations will be published later this year in an anthology and will be launched at various festivals in the United Kingdom later in the year.