A Banner Day at the LHC, An artist honors the people and science of the CMS collaboration

Symmetry Magazine

May 17, 2013

By Kelly Izlar

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There’s a new splash of color at Point Five, the home of CMS detector on the Large
Hadron Collider. Five vivid banners drape the gray walls of the complex, lending the
warehouse a cathedral-like atmosphere. Arranged in a line, they pull the viewer’s gaze
from panel to panel to land on a true-to-scale photo of the detector itself, magnificently
displayed on the back wall.

Art and science are both professions that move humanity forward, says the artist,
Xavier Cortada from Florida International University of Architecture. He dreamed up the
banner design with help from CMS physicist Pete Markowitz.

“Banners, like flags, mark important events like discoveries of new lands, power and
achievement,” says Cortada. “I wanted to include the emblem of [the experiment’s]
achievements—the event display.”

Each of Cortada’s five banners artistically interprets a different combination of
particles into which theorists predicted the Higgs boson would decay—two photons, two Z
bosons, two W bosons, two bottom quarks and two tau leptons.

Incorporating selected pages from every article published by CMS, the banners pay
homage to collaboration’s more than 4000 scientists and focus on what Cortada
considers to be the CMS experiment’s dual legacy: building upon the work of those who
came before and inspiring the generations to follow.