Last Saturday and Sunday CERN had opened its doors, giving to the general public a chance to visit the laboratory, and especially the underground areas, where the access will be limited after the LHC startup.
Therefore, like many other people in CERN, I have devoted the last week-end to the Open Day 2008.
In fact on Saturday I was guiding people around the CLIC test facility, whose commissioning is an essential part of my job. On Sunday my contribution was less direct (if not less tiring), since I was taking care
of my two-year old son all day, while my wife was acting as a guide to the CMS experiment underground installation, where she works, and giving a talk about CERN in a nearby village.
Today I was sent an e-mail, like the other 1500 or so volunteers, with the official numbers for the Open Day participation:
On Saturday, 5 April: 23,000 visitors to the various sites, of which 11,000 to the tunnel and underground caverns.
On Sunday, 6 April: 53,000 visitors to the various sites, including 20,000 to the underground areas.
Indeed, many visitors had to patiently wait for their turn, sometimes for a few hours. And some had to be sent to different, less busy, locations. In spite of that apparently most of them went away deeply satisfied from the visit.
What can I say? I think I should feel privileged to be among the few – with the possible exception of employees of the Louvre museum – who work in a place where other people are willing to suffer hours of queue just to have a quick look around.
P.S.: And nobody asked me anything about black holes, either.