Sound and light show turns Antwerp tunnel into particle accelerator

The Sint-Anna pedestrian tunnel under the Scheldt in Antwerp has been temporarily transformed into a particle accelerator.

Until 23 February, a project by the University of Antwerp and the Agency for Roads and Traffic (AWV) will mimic the particle accelerator at CERN in Switzerland with a sound and light show to introduce the public to physics and elementary particles as they pass beneath the river.

The idea came from elementary particle physics expert Maja Verstraeten of the University of Antwerp. “I regularly cycle through this tunnel and I actually feel like a proton flashing through a particle accelerator,” she said. “I thought it would be fun to mimic CERN’s particle accelerator here.”

People who use the tunnel over the next 10 days will learn about elementary particles – the building blocks of all matter in the universe – and their day-to-day applications. At the bottom of the tunnel, there is a button that starts a light show with soundtrack: blue and pink protons flash from left to right, going faster and faster and eventually colliding, just like at CERN.

The University of Antwerp says its mission is to bring science closer to the general public. The tunnel project is a precursor to the Einstein Telescope that may be built at the tri-border point between Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands, to make observations at the subatomic level.


#FlandersNewsService | A light show resembling the Large Hadron Collider particle accelerator, in the Sint-Anna pedestrian tunnel under the Scheldt in Antwerp, 13 February 2024 © BELGA PHOTO / VIDEO TIJS VANDERSTAPPEN

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