Physicists, like anyone else, appreciate beauty, and when CERN decided to test World Wide Web’s capacity to relay photographs, they chose this picture of a “doo-wap” group known as Les Horribles Cernettes. Typical lyrics: You never spend your nights with me! / You never date other women either!  /  You only love your collider! (for links to the original video now on YouTube, click the “read more” button…

The lyrics were not quite true. Sylvano de Gennaro, a CERN IT programmer who took the original photo, ended up marrying his girl friend, Michelle, who was a member of the group.  De Gennaro had met Tim Berners-Lee while participating in a local drama group.  Berners-Lee thought the photograph would make more of an impression in selling the idea of the web than any discussion of sub-atomic particles.   Hardly anyone was on the web at the time, but the photo still managed to take the world of physics by storm.  It was the first parctical use of a GIF image and the web, and Gennaro had developed it on Photoshop 1.  Without the core technology that went into it, YouTube would not exist today, nor would a host of other web services.  Besides that, the Cernettes turned out to be a pretty good group.

For the full story behind the photo, check out Abraham Rieseman’s in-depth article on Motherboard.com . To see the original video, shot inside the CERN collider, go to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A1L2xODZSI4&feature=player_embedded#!

 

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