Skip links

Inside CERN – the sounds of science

We have a rare treat today – sounds from inside the facilities of the famous European Centre for Nuclear Research, CERN, provided by Cities and Memory contributor Andy Gillham, who describes his visit:

“This is an amalgamation of recordings made entirely within the facilities of CERN on the Franco-Swiss border near Geneva.

“Alongside a standard field recorder I also took a contact mic – the ‘knocks’ you hear are via the contact mic on various pieces of equipment that are on public display. These include sounds recorded from a particle accelerator pipe and various other bits of hardware from CERN’s past including bubble chambers, an Electron / Positron Collider radio frequency cavity and a voltage doubler.

“We were lucky enough to visit CERN’s antimatter factory where, with the standard recorder, I captured the sound of the various machines busy making antiparticles.

“Further audio was recorded within the Universe of Particles exhibition at The Globe of Science and Innovation – this is where the fragments of music and speech were captured.”

City version:

“Everything heard within this piece is created from processed audio captured within CERN.

“I wanted to create a dreamlike version of the type of sounds I imagined CERN might produce if you could hold a contact mic against the ground within the complex – capturing all the sounds of the various experiments and activities going on (some of CERN’s experiments are deep underground).

“Using MIDI randomisation across the various contact mic recordings, I created a morphing array of the various knocks and clunks produced from CERN machinery.

“The addition of a grain delay effect on some of this audio feels like it might be a slowed down recording of the numerous particle collisions performed within CERN experiments.

“In the background, meanwhile, the machines at the antimatter factory continue to chug away. Processed sections of this audio provide the airy pad like sounds, whilst pitched down audio from the Universe of Particles exhibition provide the melodies and voice.”

Memory version: