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The LHCb cavern

An international effort

LHCb involves scientists and engineers from all across the globe, and many parts of the detector were conceived and constructed far from the CERN site. This meant some components had to be brought to the French-Swiss border from as far afield as Russia, Italy, and the UK.

The VELO, for instance, is the result of ten years’ work by scientists at Liverpool University. Built in the UK, airline security measures prevented the detector from being brought to Geneva by plane, so VELO was instead chauffer-driven to CERN in March 2007.

Despite its extreme sensitivity - a falling pin is enough to break VELO's delicate wiring - the detector survived its 1,300 km road-trip unscathed, and its installation was completed in November 2007.

VELO was built in the UK and transported to LHCb by car

Working underground

20-25 people have been permanently employed installing the detector since 2002, but over the years the number of workers probably totals 80 to 90, says Rolf Lindner. Each institute involved in the experiment sends people to lend a hand with the installation, but with so many institutes working together it takes a lot of coordination to keep things running smoothly. “The work is hard, physical and stressful,” says Rolf. “The most important thing is to make sure everyone gets on, and we have a good team spirit.”