Ongoing commission for University of Edinburgh's Higgs Centre for Innovation

This is a collaboration with artist Sarah Dale. We have been commissioned by University of Edinburgh to create a large centre-piece for their new Higgs Centre for Innovation at the Royal Observatory in Edinburgh.

The concept for this project is based around the hypothesis; what would happen if the 
Higgs field was switched off? The Higgs mechanism is responsible for elementary particle masses. Mass is what provides resistance when a force is applied. If the Higgs field was removed, the electrons in an atom would fly off at the speed of light, leaving the nucleus unaffected. We have chosen to imagine this system on a much larger scale, creating an impossible object, one that is at once present and absent.                                                                                                                                     
Situated in the new Higgs Centre for Innovation, it will consist of roughly 16,000 gemstone spheres attached to wires running floor to ceiling. The beads, which make up the image of a door, will only come into alignment as the viewer walks around it. At all other angles it will appear as a ghostly cloud, a mist of nuclei drifting in the air, the fundamental part of its mass and energy removed. The door is an elusive object that leads to the unknown possibilities of future scientific endeavour; how will the discovery of the Higgs boson shape the future of science, now the door has closed upon the standard model? 

As part of the project development, we recently visited CERN in Geneva, where we spoke to physicists who worked on the discovery of the Higgs boson at the ATLAS experiment, within the Large Hadron Collider.  

We're currently working out the nitty gritty, using a system and program devised by the incredible Peter Balch to plot the position of each sphere and a team of 20+ dedicated volunteers. Construction has been ongoing since November and has taken 1,200+ (wo)man hours so far.

The door is made up from lapis lazuli, blue agates, lava and mookaite and is made by hand, each sphere fitting into exactly the right space using mm precision and 200 pages of spreadsheet data. For more images and regular progress updates follow me on Instagram @majaquille