Photographers' Blog

Lost in collisions at the CERN

By Denis Balibouse

A big part of being a news photographer is doing research. Not just the search for themes or events to cover but also finding enough information before an event so that we are able to cover it correctly. Taking a photo is often one of the last things I do in a long job.

If there’s one subject I have trouble understanding, despite almost 10 years covering it, it’s the search for the Higgs boson in the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), the world’s largest and highest-energy particle accelerator at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) in Geneva. When it comes to CERN, I often find myself “lost in collisions”.

I first took photographs at CERN in September 2004, a few years after digging commenced for the 27km-long (17 miles) tunnel of the LHC. I went to a site in France where CERN was celebrating its 50th anniversary by pointing beams to the night sky to give those of us on the ground an idea about the size of the ring. I could only get five out of the 24 beams in my photo, as it was so gigantic.

One of the things that I have trouble understanding is what the people at CERN actually do. What are hadrons, protons, ions, quarks and gluons? What does TeV and GeV mean and why can’t I find so many of the symbols that CERN uses on my keyboard? And why are they sending particles invisible to the human eye around a 27 km (16 miles) circle at almost the speed of light (they say 99.99999 %) in order to collide with other particles?

Nevertheless, they have convinced me that their research is necessary, as it helps us to understand where we come from, and what came after the Big Bang. I know that we already owe a great debt to the boffins at CERN: this blog post would not be possible without the World Wide Web, which Tim Berners-Lee started in 1989.

Shuttle dream discovery

By Gary Cameron

While every photographer for Reuters is expected to cover, and have a knowledge on an array of events, whether they be political, sports, entertainment, or features, there are certain subjects that always hold a personal interest. For me, if it has wheels, wings, and a sense of history, I want to be there.

The arrival of the space shuttle Discovery from Cape Canaveral, Florida to Dulles International Airport in Virginia (where it will be transferred into the Smithsonian Air and Space collection) yesterday took some minor planning locally, mainly with trying to figure out where our best photo positions would be around Washington, D.C. as Discovery did a last fly-over before landing at Dulles.

Elevation would be key, but also, trying to line up the various Washington landmarks with the aircraft in flight. Discovery was riding piggy-back on a NASA 747 jet, which creates quite a large object moving through the skies. Also, flight altitude was listed at 1,500 feet, which is quite low.

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