A letter from Rosalind McLachlan

Rosalind McLachlan, a visual artist from the UK visited ALICE with her film crew, Merlyn Farmer and Nathan Buck, to document the installation of a TRD module. Rosalind first visited ALICE in January 2014 as part of a specially curated artist's visit organised by arts@CERN. Rosalind's work, which will feature the installation of the TRD she filmed last week, will be shown at the Hatton Gallery in Newcastle Upon Tyne, in August 2014.

Suddenly, from high up came a high-pitched whirring. Anyone who has visited the cavern will know that the home of the ALICE detector resonates with many weird and wonderful noises, this whirring, however, was different. Looking up, my film crew and I saw the source of this new sound: a yellow crane moving into position.

Image Credit: Rosalind McLachlan

A few minutes later, a polished metallic trapezoid descended into the cavern.

Image Credit: Rosalind McLachlan

This object, which to us seemed reminiscent of Kubrick's monolith in 2001: A Space Odyssey, slowly made its way down onto the concrete platform, where a group of men in hard hats ritually checked it over. This, we found out, was one of a number of Transition Radiation Detectors (TRD) to be installed over the course of the next week or so.

Rosie with her film crew filming in ALICE.

I am an artist, so forgive me, but every time I visit ALICE I can't help imagining it many years from now, as a monumental archaeological site. Just as we marvel at ancient man's ingenuity when we visit sites like Stonehenge and the pyramids of Giza, perhaps our descendants will wonder at the how the ALICE detector was engineered.

Image Credit: Rosalind McLachlan

Image Credit: Rosalind McLachlan

What's interesting about watching the installation of something like the TRD module is that it makes you think less about the giant machine in front of you and more about the people who built it, why they built it. Thinking about why humans ask or even try to answer the fundamental questions of Nature is one of the most fascinating things I can think of to make a film about. It is thanks to the support and generosity of everyone we met the wonderful ALICE community, that made this project possible.


Alice Matters