While the rest of the world was freaking about the Large Hadron Collider‘s supposed ability to destroy the universe, artist Josef Kristofoletti was painting worshipful murals of the gigantic atom smasher on ordinary buildings. Not surprisingly, the brass at CERN (the organization that administers the collider) saw it and invited him to paint one of his creations on a building in Geneva, Switzerland that houses the real deal.
Here’s video of Kristofoletti’s first LHC-inspired artwork, which got him the commission:
Kristofoletti based his mural on schematic diagrams of one of the LHC’s main particle detectors, called ATLAS. The 7000-ton science project is pretty visually impressive on its own, but Kristofoletti’s representation adds a much-needed dose of levity to something that many people fear could suck the Earth into a black hole. (It won’t. But still.)
In a savvy combination of public art support and PR spin, the colorful mural is painted on the outside of the building that actually houses ATLAS — kind of like a big “Don’t be scared! Science is neat!” sign. Technically, ATLAS is sequestered 90 meters underneath the building, but hey, close enough. Here’s what Kristofoletti’s mural looked like in-progress:
Kristofoletti says that during the long process of painting the mural, physicists would occasionally confront him about getting some minute visual detail wrong. “I respect that because for many of them this is a life’s work… [but] I tried to explain to them that I was just making a painting,” he told the Huffington Post. We think he did a bang-up job.