Since the dawn of history, humankind has always wondered where matter - the Earth, the sun and the entire Universe - came from. And upon what kind of foundations human life was built. We can now trace the origins of matter and the elements back to a time point of 10-43 seconds after the Big Bang. After approximately 10-30 seconds the first elementary particles, protons, neutrons and electrons were created along with their antiparticles. Collisions between particles and antiparticles resulted in their mutual annihilation in an intense burst of energy. At the world’s biggest particle accelerator, CERN in Geneva, scientists are now trying to recreate exactly this split second of time following the Big Bang. The biggest machine that humankind has ever built is being used to investigate the minutest components of matter – elementary particles. Gigantic acceleration tunnels bring particles close to the speed of light before they collide with one another. Detectors monitor the collisions and capture the results. Scientists analyse the data of these elementary particle collisions to gain new insights into the laws of nature, the origins of matter and the building blocks of human existence.
The artwork “cosmic eye” shows a new measuring wheel now under construction for the ATLAS experiment at CERN, the biggest particle-collision detector the world has ever seen. In operation since 2008, it is now being fitted with new technology to make it even more performant. The circular mounting plate with a radius of over 12 metres will later be fitted with highly sensitive detectors to record the immense amount of data resulting from particle collisions. The orginal photograph was taken in an assembly hall at CERN, the final artwork simultaneously shows a front view and side view of the ATLAS wheel which focuses attention on the extraordinary precision of the engineering. The structure, composition and colouring may remind viewers of the pupil of a human eye, thus triggering a dialectic tension. For although viewers themselves stand under observation, with the aid of the ATLAS experiment, humankind itself is venturing deep into the origins of our Universe - on a voyage of discovery that ultimately returns us to ourselves.