Meet our guides: Dominique

Guide since: 1999
Position: Former Visits Service operations manager (retired)
Languages: English, French


In 2015 I was contacted by the president of a local association, Les Enfants de la lune (“Moon children”), which helps families and children who suffer from a rare but serious and restrictive disease that forbids them from exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation under risk of developing skin or eye cancer. The president wanted to organise a visit to CERN to show them science in a fun way if possible. I immediately responded, taking care to check with the medical service and colleagues from HSE that the site we were visiting offered no or very little UV light, and measuring UV levels in the main auditorium. Together with the visits service we were able to invite about 40 children accompanied by adults to the afternoon event. They arrived by bus, with windows protected by an anti-UV film, equipped with anti-UV suits, resembling astronaut masks and gloves. As soon as they disembarked, they were accompanied to the auditorium in which they were able to remove their suits and helmets in complete safety. I performed several demonstrations that delighted the youngest visitors (from age five) and their parents alike – especially when they were able to taste a few marshmallows immersed in liquid nitrogen! After being re-equipped, they toured the Synchrocyclotron, which is safe from UV exposure. When the visit was over, I met looks, smiles and the sparkling eyes of all these children.

During the following weeks I organised a meeting with physicists and engineers from CERN who proposed a hackathon to improve the daily lives of the children. This resulted in more efficient, lighter and better ventilated helmets at a much lower cost than existed on the market. The group also worked on a more sensitive and cheaper UV detector to help children know if they can safely remove their protective gear.

I received a message from the group soon after: “We would like to thank you again for this magnificent visit. We were able to feel your passion and enthusiasm for CERN. Very happy to visit CERN with such young children, discovering some aspects allowed us to understand how fantastic this place is. I can say the children of the Moon left with lots of stars in their eyes.”

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