The Women who run the biggest machine ever built by Man
The complexity of LHC and the women in charge of it

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The LHC (Large Hadron Collider) is the biggest and most complex scientific instrument ever built.

This innovative, powerful particle accelerator has been operational at the CERN Laboratory in Geneva since September 2008. The LHC feeds a wealth of data to four gigantic particle detectors (ALICE, ATLAS, CMS, LHCb), which act like enormous microscopes and allow scientists to probe the tiny fundamental constituents of matter. This huge project will help us to answer key unresolved questions in our understanding of Nature, starting with what matter was like in the newborn Universe 14 billion years ago - a few microseconds after the Big Bang.

The LHC is an unprecedented endeavour. At present, it brings together thousands of scientists from 85 different countries all over the world. Nonetheless, the project is deeply rooted in the European research program and owes much to Italian physics and the INFN (Istituto Nazionale di Fisica Nucleare - the National Institute of Nuclear Physics).

This exhibition presents the portraits of just some of the numerous Italian women who are involved in the LHC adventure, often as major players. It is through their faces, smiles and experiences that we trace the history of one of the most fascinating challenges in research and technology. We hope that it will reach out to Italian teenagers, who live in this period of scientific wonder and yet are often unaware of it.

However, this exhibition is not only about science. It is also means to display an emerging female role model: a woman who, although young, is already on track for a competitive, international career, a woman fully immersed in today's "Knowledge Society" and who is, above all, profoundly different from the artificial, one-dimensional model presented in today's media.