©Planeterrella The polar light simulator
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At CERN in Geneva

At CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, physicists and engineers are probing the fundamental structure of the universe. They use the world’s largest and most complex scientific instruments to study the basic constituents of matter - the fundamental particles. The particles are made to collide together at close to the speed of light. The process gives the physicists clues about how the particles interact, and provides insights into the fundamental laws of nature.
At CERN , Ingrid Alice Michet and Hervé Rambeau had the idea in mid January 2013, to make a Planeterrella ready at an exhibition on September 27th ! It was a great challenge. They succeeded beautifully. To save time, they had the simple and brilliant idea to make the base out of Plexiglas . The result is striking:

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The mechanical parts were made in May and the first light was made in July.

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Here’s how Alice and Hervé built their demonstrations:
"Firstly, it will be explained to visitors, through posters, what is a vacuum, why we need a vacuum in the accelerator, how do we create a vacuum, the use of thin films aso... Then we will show some "funny" properties of the vacuum through small simple manipulation (vacuum puts water in strange states, it makes a pen as heavy as lead, it inflates objects, it removes the sound, it move matter…) .
Then other manipulations will explain some of our activities: leak detection, residual gas analysis, simulation calculations of the trajectories of molecules in a vacuum and in particular the achievement of plasma and vacuum applications the fabrication of thin films: it is in this context that we were asked to produce plasmas and show visitors something exciting and interesting, so we have thought af a Planeterrela" .

Institut de Planétologie et d'Astrophysique de Grenoble (IPAG)