Opening ceremony at the European XFEL


The world's largest X-ray free electron laser, the European XFEL, started operation in September 2017, and I was very happy to have been asked to moderate the opening ceremony at Schenefeld outside Hamburg.

© European XFEL

About 800 guests attended, including Germany's Minister for Education and Research, Dr. Johanna Wanka, Professor Dr. Andrei Fursenko, the chief scientific advisor and aide to the president of the Russian Federation, Professor Dr. Frédérique Vidal, the French Minister of Higher Education, Research and Innovation, many other government heads, and the first scientists to be awarded "beam time". It was a real blast up there on the stage.

© European XFEL

The European XFEL runs an amazing 3.4 kilometres along underground tunnels, starting at DESY, the German national research centre in Bahrenfeld, and ending at Schenefeld in the German state of Schleswig-Holstein.

Scientists hope to investigate some of the smallest things on Earth and, at the same time, some of the largest celestial bodies in deep space to expand our understanding of life.

© European XFEL

Since the project officially started in 2009, the European XFEL has formed partnerships and cooperations not only with research institutes in 12 partner countries, but also around the world, including the China Academy of Engineering Physics, the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory in the US, the Science and Technology Facilities Council in the UK, the Turkish Accelerator Center, and Osaka University in Japan - to name a few.

© European XFEL

It was really exciting to be part of such a big event and at such a unique, European science facility.

© European XFEL

There is video of the event and I intend to post an extract here in due course.