CERN Asks for Help With Mystery Photos: What Are These Things?

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CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, has unraveled some of the deepest secrets of the atom — but it can't seem to pin down what's in these old photos it's found. The organization has digitized decades of film photographs documenting its installations around the continent — but time does its work and many of the photos lack notes, context or even a basic description.

Over 120,000 photos from between 1955 and 1985 are being digitally archived, and many are well documented. Others, not so much. Their joking temporary captions for these mystery photos suggest the scientists aren't particularly worried about the content — "No idea..." reads one; another, "Mmmm, (open?) data???" — but they do seem to genuinely want help.

"We believe that much of this information could be crowd-sourced from the CERN community," reads a news release in the organization's latest online newsletter. "Please get in touch by e-mail if you have any information about the pictures."

If you know anyone who worked at a particle accelerator in the '60s and '70s, you might ask them to take a look.



—Devin Coldewey