Fascinating research: Big resonance at GSI's and FAIR's Open House


It was an exciting adventure trip into science with a lot to see, to experience and to understand at the Open House on Saturday, July 15, 2023, at the GSI Helmholtzzentrum für Schwerionenforschung and the future accelerator center FAIR. Around 3,500 guests had the opportunity to view research stations, laboratories and experimental setups on the campus in Darmstadt. They also had the chance to take a closer look at the FAIR project, one of the world's largest construction projects for science. The event was opened by Professor Dr. Paolo Giubellino, Scientific Managing Director of GSI and FAIR, Jörg Blaurock, Technical Managing Director of GSI and FAIR, Stefan Müller, Head of Department for Fundamental Research at the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research and Professor Dr. Kristina Sinemus, Hessian Minister for Digital Strategy and Development.

For one day, GSI and FAIR opened their doors to guests, which also included numerous representatives from politics and research. Thousands of interested visitors, including many families, took the opportunity to take a look behind the scenes of one of the leading international physics research facilities. The demand was extraordinarily high: Within one week, all tickets for guided tours on the campus and the FAIR construction site as well as the stay on the "Science Square" were fully booked. The GSI and FAIR management was very pleased about the interest of visitors of all ages in the work of GSI and FAIR. The day showed that research consists of high quality science and fascinating technology, but also lives on dedicated employees.

For the Open House with the motto “Seeing. Experiencing. Understanding”, the employees at GSI and FAIR had prepared the research operation in a special way so that visitors could gain an understanding of as many topics as possible. More than 400 volunteers were on hand during the Open House. They made sure the guests had an interesting and informative day, tirelessly answered their questions, and helped during the tours.

During five guided tours and at almost 20 stations, the guests were able to gain exciting insights into the research with ion beams. This included accelerator facilities, where during research operations ions can race at around 270,000 kilometers per second, or the experiments with detectors as big as houses, which can detect several hundred reaction products simultaneously. Other tours focused on the 20-hectare construction site for the world’s outstanding particle accelerator facility FAIR and the unique high-tech developments for this great future project.

The “Science Square” was all about enjoying the international atmosphere of GSI and FAIR with diverse catering and entertainment, including science shows by the "Physikanten" and "Team Scientastic," magic, ice cream made of nitrogen, tabletop fiddling and hands-on experiments. The "Market of Possibilities" offered, among other things, the opportunity to talk directly with researchers about topics such as technology transfer or space travel. The guests also got information about the wide variety of job opportunities at GSI and FAIR.

The Open House at GSI and FAIR was also part of the nationwide program for the Science Year 2023. The campaign is proclaimed annually with a changing topic by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research, 2023 titled “Our Universe”. This year’s topic fits particularly well with the future accelerator center FAIR, which has the motto “The Universe in the Laboratory”. At FAIR, matter that usually only exists in the depth of space will be produced and explored in the laboratory. Scientists from all over the world will be able to gain new insights into the structure of matter and the evolution of the universe from the Big Bang to the present. (BP)

Statements on the Open House

Prof. Dr. Kristina Sinemus, Hessian Minister for Digital Strategy and Innovation: "In addition to your concrete research successes, I am particularly pleased to see how strongly the Hessian research landscape continues to network together with GSI and FAIR and exploits important synergies to further advance the successful digital transformation in Hessen. The AI Innovation Lab of the Hessian Center for Artificial Intelligence hessian.AI at the Green IT Cube of GSI, which opened in March, or the new Digital Innovation Hub EDITH are two examples that make our successful cooperation tangible."

Prof. Dr. Paolo Giubellino, Scientific Managing Director of GSI and FAIR: „It is important for us to inform the public about our work and our concept for the future and to strengthen the interest for scientific and technical topics, especially among the interested young people. With the Open House we succeeded in raising excitement and curiosity for science. We are glad that so many young people came – our potential scientists for tomorrow.”

Jörg Blaurock, Technical Managing Director of GSI and FAIR: „The Open House attracted a lot of visitors, highlighting the fascination that cutting edge has for the people. We were able to give the interested public an insight into the current FAIR construction activities and show what progress is being made continuously on the 20-hectare construction site. The international FAIR project guarantees a promising further development of the location Darmstadt and offers innovative perspectives for research and technology.”