The animated ATLAS

By Phil Plait | May 2, 2008 1:53 pm

In case my earlier video didn’t give you a sense of the scale of the Large Hadron Collider’s ATLAS detector, maybe this one will.

Holy cow. I stood right there, looked right into the heart of that beast, and even now watching that animation gives me chills. It was that cool.

One gold star to anyone who can name all the music used in the video, and another one for adding the composers’ names, too. :-)

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Cool stuff, Science, Video Blog

Comments (55)

  1. Well, it starts off with “Mars, Bringer of War” from Holst’s “The Planets”.

  2. Next, I hear “Jupiter, Bringer of Jollity”, also from “The Planets”.

  3. On into “In the Hall of the Mountain King” from Peer Gynt, by Edvard Grieg.

  4. JackC

    Yeah – what they said. Too easy.

  5. In the hall of the mountain King by Grieg

    I used to be obsessed with that in high school

  6. Russ

    All three are great marching band pieces incidentally.

  7. Plus a bit of the finale from Rossini’s “The William Tell Overture” and “The Sorceror’s Apprentice” by Paul Dukas. Then unwinding back to the “Hall of the Mountain King”, and “Mars”.

    Wrapping up with a waltz I don’t know.

    Well, crap. The are credits at the end that list all the music! So much for that gold star.

    Now I need to go watch it again so I can listen to that woman who kept interrupting the music.

  8. Yeah, I couldn’t actually name any of the music, but the animation was pretty cool.

  9. @Michael Nygard: Yeah, I’m not sure that was the best possible music to put on something that certain morons think will destroy Earth. 😛 Good video, though.

  10. AJ

    Do I get my gold star if I just read back the music credits at the end? 😉

    That was a great animation.

  11. Heh. I stopped the video before the credits all rolled, so I didn’t know. Oh well. :) I knew all the music, but I’m a classical weenie.

  12. Yoshi_3up

    Ah, the video comments.

    “[…]I’m saying don’t experiment when the entire planet is at stake of being destroyed by this thing.”

    Oh well, lucky for us, the one who uploaded the video knows how to deal with guys like these.

  13. João

    I am amazed that this video was partly produced and made with funding from the University of Lisbon, where I studied some years ago. For all of you living in the US it may not seem much but for me it makes me proud that a small University in a small country like Portugal is involved in such a project.

  14. Cello Man

    Regarding music choice:

    If folks at CERN really wanted to rile up the conspiracy crowd who think this thing is going to blow up the Earth, they could’ve picked “Quartet for the End of Time” by Messiaen.

  15. chief

    There was a show on the construction of this on TLC here in Canada. This video really gave a scale to the project. Wow.

    I assume that from the video, if a particle is “found” that is not being picked up properly by the existing detectors, they can redesign a detector “ring” and insert it along with the others. ie modular.

  16. Sili

    Ooooh – Coppelia. Cute.

  17. themadlolscientist

    best. science. video. animation. evar.

    Don’t forget to see Episode 2, “The Particles Strike Back”:

    Part 1
    Part 2

    More way KEWL videos at TheATLASExperiment’s channel

    @Cello Man: Cool idea — but I don’t know if anyone besides you and me would recognize it. :-) At least they didn’t use Antheil’s Ballet Mechanique :-O

  18. zwitterion

    How do they fix it if it breaks? Do they take it apart? Do they have some sort of ‘surgical’ robot or something?

  19. themadlolscientist

    @zwitterion: Apparently it ain’t easy. Check out The ATLAS Crawl.

    p.s. I’m guessing there’s about a 50% chance of Cocheese? toecheese? being a Poe.

  20. themadlolscientist says: “Check out The ATLAS Crawl.”

    Scary and claustrophobic while being fascinating all the same.

    During my brief stay at Lawrence Livermore Lab, I was talking to a tech who worked on MFTF2 (Magnetic Fusion Test Facility). He said that working on that machine was like changing the spark plugs on your car…with the hood closed!

    – Jack

  21. Daffy

    Sorry, but I keep hearing the song “Particle Man” by They Might Be Giants.

  22. Daffy, your comment is FOR. THE. WIN. 😀

  23. Nic

    Wow! Wow!
    Thanks Phil that’s marvelous – as well as all of your other posts about the LHC.
    Strangely I found the animations showed the scale better than your own real shots. I had the same problem photographing the Grand Canyon. The scale is hard to grasp on film without a nice little animated figure.

    And – to reiterate something you’ve said, certainly on multiple occasions – isn’t it bloody amazing that scientists, engineers, electricians – well _people_ can get together and make something on this scale. It’s fabulous.

    That’s what always impressed me about Apollo – still I think basically the largest civil project in human history – that people – the aforesaid scientists, engineers, etc, could get together and DO something that I’m sure 99% of people -before the event – would assume was impossible.


  24. Kol

    My kids are fascinated and want to know more.

    That’s a statement, not a request.

    I’m proud that they’re excited.

  25. Jeffersonian

    u r a classic weenie, alright 😉

  26. zeb

    “In reality, a scientist would not be allowed to walk through the open detector”

    Nuts to them, I’m doing it anyway!


  27. esmitt

    I saw somewhere that they had to compensate for solid tide. How the heck do they do that? I wonder how they do that and if it affects the atlas device…

    I hope they eventually give tours to us unimportant people.

  28. That animated female engineer is HAWT!

    I notice the credits left off the William Tell Overture
    Hi-Yo, Atlas!


  29. Chris

    Lol to Jack’s remark above. I have a friend who was hired to work on the tokamak at MIT because she is small enough to climb through the access ports to get at the plumbing inside. Terrifying! I get claustrophobia just thinking about it!!
    I’m glad they didn’t use Also Sprach Zarathustra by R. Strauss, aka A Space Odyssey. Right now I’m on a huge Marcel Dupre binge. One of his monster organ pieces would be cool.

  30. Chris

    Wow, Particles Strike Back is mind-bending. Atlas is staggeringly complex. I think BA already said that several times; it can’t be said enough!

  31. themadlolscientist

    “I have a friend who was hired to work on the tokamak at MIT because she is small enough to climb through the access ports to get at the plumbing inside.”

    LOL! My grandma was barely 5 feet tall and 90 lbs. in combat boots, and she spent quite a few years working as an aircraft mechanic on an air force base. When she drove one of the trucks on the base, she had to put 3″ blocks on the pedals. The guys had a lot of respect for her because she was absolutely fearless about stuff like hanging upside down by her knees to get at some parts of the aircraft.

    I sometimes wonder if they had to hire a civilian because the military height and weight standards for recruits automatically eliminated anyone small enough to get into those nooks and crannies.

  32. John Phillips, FCD

    The whole ATLAS series of videos just leaves me breathless with wonder and excitement. I can’t wait for when they finally fire up the LHC properly.

  33. Bhima

    Wow, this is really, really cool!

    Can anyone recommend a book (for an educated layman) about the goings on at CERN and the Large Hadron Collider?

  34. Pop

    A self-confessed weenie, how “classic.” Of course we knowed you was a weenie from you wearing the goofy cap everywhere. Haw!

  35. cletus

    Running under the credits (which oddly didn’t include a credit for the music running under the credits) is the waltz from Coppelia by Leo Delibes.

    As an audio production cat, the mish-mash of music perplexed me. I’d have scored it a lot differently. But then, they didn’t ask me.

  36. Edward

    When is the scheduled startup for the collider?

  37. I could almost have guessed which classical pieces would be used; always the same tired old clips. Wot, no Zarathustra? Someone slipped up there. Phil, if you’re a classical weenie, then I’m a classical juggernaut. Of course I can’t hold a “standard candle” to your astronomy genius, but music is MY bag!

    Cool video though. Either that thing is infested with leprechauns, or it’s a bit on the large side…

  38. John Phillips, FCDon “I can’t wait for when they finally fire up the LHC properly.”

    They switched on the machine and the entire Krell civilization disappeared in a single night!

    – Jack

  39. Scott

    I really didn’t have a sense of the scale of Atlas until this video, and specifically the part when they’re attatching the magnet to the end of the…I guess structure is a pretty appropriate word, and they had a person walking across it and stepping on to the lift. That really brought it into perspective for me…also the part where they overlayed the ring of LHC on to the satelitte image…amazing.

  40. there was some music from star wars in there. when the particles collided. john williams composer.

  41. Devin

    I think a good “end of the world” song would be Carmina Burana

  42. squirtitgreen

    and tomorrow you’ll be able to buy one cheaper, faster and with more memory……………

  43. ArghMonkey

    The music is Jupiter by Holst, performed by the Osaka Philharmonic Orchestra. Conducted by Eiji Oue.

    Just FYI :)

  44. Ive been to CERN and seen the particle accelerators up close, though this one is tight!

  45. Geese

    I’ve found it quite hard to grapple with the scale of the assembled detector, so I really appreciated these videos. I’ve always found cut-aways to be most useful when it comes to understanding how something complex works, so seeing this was an informative pleasure. It was also nice to hear a top-notch classical score.

    Now I’m just waiting for ‘funny LHC pranks’.

  46. ATLAS detector is very impressive. But is CERN willing to NOT use it if the evidence is compelling that the risk of planetary danger is not remote.

    And I believe that this evidence is becoming clear…

    CERN predicts the creation of up to 1 micro black hole per second in the Large Hadron Collider and references the 1999 RHIC safety study as proof of safety.
    (Rebuttal: But the 1999 RHIC safety study only ruled out any possibility of colliders creating micro black holes based on knowledge at that time.)

    CERN’ predicts that micro black holes will evaporate.
    (Rebuttal: But Hawking Radiation has been disputed by no less than 3 peer reviewed studies that found no basis in science for such conclusions.)

    CERN’ and Steven Hawking state that much greater energy cosmic ray impacts with Earth prove safety.
    (Rebuttal: But higher energy cosmic ray impacts with stationary particles have net collision speeds less than the speed of light and send all particles created safely into space, while head-on collider collisions have net collision impact speeds at almost twice the speed of light and are designed to focus all the energy to a single point in space and particles created may be captured by Earth’s gravity.)

    CERN promised to create and release an new safety report before the end of 2007.
    (Rebuttal: CERN’s LHC Safety Assessment Group has concluded that particles created by cosmic ray impacts with Earth’s atmosphere are safely ejected into space and LSAG stated that they do not assume that micro black holes will evaporate, but CERN never released any safety reports created by their LHC Safety Assessment Group.)

    CERN asserts that there is no risk to the planet, even though the Large Hadron Collider will create conditions not seen in nature since the first fraction of a second after the big bang.
    (Rebuttal: But the legal action contends a 75% probability of risk with very high degree of uncertainty calculated by a scientist with a masters degree in statistics, and alleges that Chief Scientific Officer Mr. Engelen passed an internal memorandum to workers at CERN asking them regardless of personal opinion to affirm in all interviews that there were no risks involved in the experiments, changing CERN’s previous assertion of minimal risk.)

    Professor Otto Rossler calculates that a single micro black hole could accrete the Earth is as few as 50 months and Dr. Rossler is world recognized as one of the most prestigious, most eminent, award winning scientists alive. Others including Dr. Raj Baldev, director of the Indira Gandhi Center for Atomic Research, are also warning of a very real, very possible, very present danger to the planet from the Large Hadron Collider.
    (Rebuttal?: But CERN has not scientifically refuted his calculations that I am aware of, CERN only promised Dr. Rossler that if they create stable micro black holes that they will stop the experiment immediately. But could that be too late?)

    The World might prevent a catastrophy if we delay the experiment until the promised safety studies are completed and peer reviewed.
    (Rebuttal?: But then some scientists may not be the first to discover new science and some Nobel prizes may be lost?)


  47. Droog57

    Excellent animation, part of a 3 part series from CERN,
    you can search Youtube for these names for the full featurette or just go to the ATLAS web site, there are links there along with other related videos.
    Bring on the Relitavistic Fireballs!!

    1/. ATLAS – Episode 1 -A New Hope
    2/. ATLAS – Episode 2 -The Particles Strike Back (Part 1)
    3/. ATLAS – Episode 2 – The Particles Strike Back (Part 2)

    Apart from the music, I am amazed that notoriously protective Lucasarts gave permission to use the Star Wars Theme, both visually and musically. Good “Ol George must be an LHC fan…

  48. amount of video i dont understand: 99.58%
    amount of video i find very cool: 100%

  49. icemith

    I love this:-

    “CERN asserts that there is no risk to the planet, even though the Large Hadron Collider will create conditions not seen in nature since the first fraction of a second after the big bang.”
    (# JTanekrson ( 04 May 2008 at 8:37 pm)

    Though there is a rebuttal from CERN, I think they should have been honest and claimed that, if successful, it would be not so much a “Mini Big Bang” as really a “Big Wimper”. I don’t like our chances if it is even a Significant Bang!

    Harking back in History, was there any documentation before the first test of the Atom Bomb, of a real appreciation that they could have annihilated the Earth. Or was that all “Top Secret”?


  50. icemith

    Oh, and I almost forgot to ask, what do they use for a fuse for that thing?

    A Rail Line? A Bridge Girder? The Bridge?


  51. The videos of the detector components blew my mind. As others have said, it’s wonderful that so many people can work together and build something so awesome. Our species has its faults, but is not beyond hope.

    One loose end (for me) is the absence of information about computational power. Are they really going to collect data from billions of collisions per second, and from what looks like many thousands (millions?) of detection components? If so, I’d love to see a diagram of the data flow…

  52. elis

    Ehm i was to lazy to read the whole discussion but all the music information was provided in the titlescreen of the movie (:
    and yes, the hadron collider is sort of huge and impressive!


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