by Virginia Greco. Published: 17 October 2017

The “Researchers' Night at CERN 2017” event was held on September 29 and proposed a rich programme of events in situ and virtual visits for people attending online.

It is already an awaited autumnal appointment. Science addicts and simple amateurs know that, towards the end of September, CERN and many scientific institutions and organizations in Europe host “Researchers’ Night”, a Friday evening of amazing science, discovery and fun.

At its eighth edition, the “Researchers’ Night at CERN 2017” was held on Friday 29 September, between 5 pm and 11 pm, offering a programme rich of activities, talks and virtual visits. The Globe of Science and Innovation hosted the screening of various science documentaries, in English and in French, about bioluminescence, technology and the human being, and the Universe. Science in space was also discussed with the special participation of Matthias Maurer, astronaut of the European Space Agency, and Mercedes Paniccia, PhD, senior Research Associate in the AMS experiment. Attendees could also learn how to program their own robot or experience virtual reality, activities particularly attractive for the youngsters.

For those interested in the scientific installations, guided tours were offered to the ATLAS experiment and to the antimatter factory.

In parallel, an online programme was organized for those who could not attend physically. Between 6 pm and 11 pm groups of students and professors in institutions spread throughout Europe could connect via internet and interact with researchers, sneak-peeking in the control rooms of the experiments and asking questions. These “virtual visits” were also broadcasted on Facebook, where participants could post questions, which were answered by the experts during the live session.

After the CERN Data Centre, where the data from all the experiments are stored and shared using the computing grid, it was the turn of ALICE. The virtual visit of our experiment was hosted by Despina Hatzifotiadou and Giacinto Di Cataldo, with the technical collaboration of Roberto Divià and Virginia Greco, and saw the remote participation of four institutes, set in Austria, Greece, Scotland and Slovakia.

After a short introduction on the experiment, supported by a video explaining the structure of the ALICE detector and showing a drone flying in the detector cavern, Despina and Giacinto took the questions of the external participants and the Facebook Live followers, while sitting in the ALICE Run Control Centre.

At 8 pm, the live event continued with a tour of the CERN Control Centre, from where the accelerator complex is controlled. Following, the turn came of LHCb and of CMS, which held special sessions in Serbian and Lithuanian respectively.

The event was successful and registered a satisfactory participation of visitors in situ and followers online. Certainly, the ALICE collaboration can be proud of having scored the highest number of views and engagement rate of the Facebook Live event.