by Polly Bennett. Published: 20 January 2012

Two prominent ALICE collaborators from the CERN team, Lennart Jirden and Diego Perini, have recently moved on to other responsibilities. Lennart Jirden was leading the ALICE Detector Control System (DCS) effort during the last 10 years and he has contributed in many other areas beyond the core DCS business e.g. power supplies and rack infrastructure, which was essential to bring ALICE into shape for the timely start-up. We wish him all the best for his new activities! – Werner Riegler

Officially Lennart has retired, and yet he is still here. “I like very much to work at CERN and still find it interesting, so I have got special status to continue as an honorary member at CERN.” He is now involved in the education side of the CERN PH department. “One of the programmes I will work on is getting physics teachers here for a week, trying to inspire and motivate them. I had already participated a little with this before I retired but now they want someone to develop more exchanges with Sweden, and Scandinavia. Since I know the Swedish community I can encourage teachers and lecturers here, and it’s better if the talks are done in Swedish because it makes them feel more welcome, or at home. We have one Swedish group coming in June and one in October. I’m also now involved in setting up some kind of school for controls with the DCS group.”

Lennart Jirden

Lennart Jirden (left) in his element

Lennart has been at CERN since 1973 but has worked in many different areas. Beginning in development electronics and software development for the accelerator area he then became the leader of a support group for the experiments in 1990. He provided electronics, software and so on to the experiments. “Coming to this group I discovered a new world. It was a new challenge. It made me ask why I spent so many years in my previous job. So after the support group I went into administration. I was the leader of the logistics group at CERN. They deal with the stores, transport, customs and such things. Again this was another world and I discovered something new. I was involved with dismantling LEP and selling off the materials and metals.” Finally, when the LHC really started to develop Lennart got the opportunity to come to ALICE. This, in around 2000, was the first time he was directly working for an experiment. “These last ten years have been very intense but very interesting and I think we’ve built something that is really very good. Looking back I have really been lucky to have had the opportunity to go from one corner of CERN to another.”


Lennart explains that in Sweden one is generally quite an outdoor person. It’s a way of living and so making the transition to live here, squeezed between the Alps and the Jura, was not so huge. Although originally from a small Swedish village inside the Arctic Circle the Jura have become Lennart’s second home. “In the winter I do cross country skiing. I used to do competitions, but at my age I’ve stopped. Well, maybe one or two. What I like now is to bring my enthusiasm and experience to teaching cross country skiing in the Jura. I also like music and I used to animate dancing courses, based on folk dancing such as Morris, French and Israeli dances. I have tried to marry those two passions of cross country skiing and dancing. I have been training children for years in skiing in the Jura and once I suggested, just to finish the season, that we should do a performance: skiing with music. So I choreographed a dance, and this worked very well. It’s different. I like to be outside. It’s a good combination with the studying and intellectual work of CERN.”