CMS now open for Virtual Visits

Students in Iran (left) connect with researchers in the CMS control room (right) (Image: Marzena Lapka/CERN)

“Welcome to the CMS experiment. We are 100 metres underground and I will now pass by the eye scanner to take you for a virtual tour and show you our massive scientific machine,” said CMS physicist, Abdollah Mohammadi, to 200 enthralled students sitting in the hall in the Sharif University of Technology in Iran last Tuesday.

CMS officially launched CMS Virtual Visits a few weeks ago, providing remote participants an opportunity to experience the CMS experiment by using a video connection. The project began in 2011 when the first virtual connection with Oveges Jozsef Technical College in Hungary was successfully performed by the CMS team.

Since then, many students and public “virtual visitors” were shown the CMS cavern, deep underground. We connected with Italy, Spain, Hungary, BulgariaGreece, UK, USA and the South Pole to show the scientific marvel to university students and visitors to science fairs. Those tours are special as not even visitors physically present in the cavern can approach the detector so close and from such a variety of angles. Our guides step into the most hidden corners of CMS and explain the enormity, complexity and incredible performance of the detector in the language of the visitors.

CMS Virtual Visits act as a window into the world of scientific progress and discovery in particle physics research, by offering students, teachers and the wider public from all over the world with a unique opportunity to take a guided walk-and-talk live tour with a researcher through the CMS detector, and to learn how science and technology work together for advancing our understanding of the universe.

CMS hopes to maintain this fascinating way of promoting big science, and the virtual visits will be continued for as long as the experiment is accessible. The CMS Virtual Visits map starts to look busy and we hope it will grow with time to reach students and science enthusiasts who have no possibility to visit CERN in person. 

A longer version of this article first appeared on Cylindrical Onion, the blog of the CMS experiment.