KBC 14: In June 2004, CERN, the world’s leading particle physics laboratory unveiled a statue featuring what?
Iron Pillar of Mehrauli
The statue was a gift from India, celebrating CERN’s long association with India which started in the 1960s and continues strongly today. It was unveiled by the Director General, Dr Robert Aymar, His Excellency Mr K. M. Chandrasekhar, Ambassador (WTO-Geneva), and Dr Anil Kakodkar, Chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission and Secretary, Dept of Atomic Energy, India.
In the Hindu religion, this form of the dancing Lord Shiva is known as the Nataraj and symbolises Shakti, or life force. As a plaque alongside the statue explains, the belief is that Lord Shiva danced the Universe into existence, motivates it, and will eventually extinguish it. Carl Sagan drew the metaphor between the cosmic dance of the Nataraj and the modern study of the ‘cosmic dance’ of subatomic particles.
The statue was made in India. The original sculpture was a wax model, around which a soil mould was made. Melting the wax left a hollow into which liquid metal was poured. Once cooled, the mould was split and the statue polished and given its antique finish.
The statue is on permanent display in the square between buildings 39 and 40, a short distance from the Main Building.