There’s no denying that Google Street View is one of the most interesting and downright amazing bits of technology that currently exists. I’m never going to set one half-frozen foot down in Antarctica, but Google has allowed me to spend time there anyway. Their latest trip takes couch-bound explorers into the seemingly mundane headquarters for arguably the most complicated and potentially game-changing piece of machinery on Earth: the Large Hadron Collider.
In fact, the Google team took two weeks to tour the world’s largest particle physics center, the CERN (European Organization for Nuclear Research) facilities near Geneva, Switzerland. They rode the “Street View Trike,” which was specially equipped with 360-degree cameras, around the experiments ATLAS, ALICE, LHCb, and CMS, according to CERN’s Dan Noyes.
“We’re delighted that CERN opened its doors to Google Maps Street View allowing anyone, anywhere in the world to take a peek into its laboratories, control centers and its myriad underground tunnels housing cutting-edge experiments,” said Google’s Pascale Milite.
In fact, they took the six-sided panoramic images every three meters throughout all four of the experiments, as well as a 1,200 meter stretch of the LHC tunnel, and they ended up with 6,000 points that were matched with GPS coordinates to bring this mini-tour to life. My main question is, how has there not been a horror movie filmed inside this place? Oh, because that’s irresponsible. I get it. Take the tour below, and don’t feel like you’re overstaying your welcome. But try to put some pants on at least.
If I ever went into this place, in any one of these equipment-filled areas, it would look like an Inspector Clouseau routine as I slipped, flipped, and crashed into nearly everything in sight. Higgs boson? More like…Big problems. I’ll work on that.
Not only does this virtual tour give armchair scientists something to do, but it also gives off-site researchers a way to get an idea of what it looks like there, and future experiments may be planned. Noyes says that this is an ongoing project and that more views are coming in the future.
Though the LHC is offline until 2015 after repairs and renovations, November will see the opening of an LHC-focused exhibit at the Science Museum in London. It’ll use video, theater, and real artifacts from CERN to partially recreate the on-site laboratory. So if you live there, invite me over, won’t you?
Want to take another trip right quick? How about Kennedy Space Center? Check that out below.