Super K Sonic BOOOOum: a psychedelic experience of sub-atomic particles...

  • Nelly Ben Hayoun

The experiential work Super K Sonic Booooum imagines what it would be like to see sub-atomic particles slam together at high speed and to experience a SONIC BOOUM (when a particle is traveling faster than the speed of light).

Offering a glimpse into the world of particle physics, NBH Studio created a super-sized version of a Japanese neutrino observatory, where electrons and neutrinos, a type of fundamental particles that make up the universe, collide to create giant explosions. On entering the installation, visitors put on helmets, white rubber shoes and boiler suits. They then board dinghies that transport them through a space filled with water and covered with silver balloons where they meet the Nobel Prize Physics winner inside a boat. There, they experienced a light show and a sonic explosion designed by sound artist Tim Holden in partnership with Particle Physicist at Imperial College.
Super K Sonic Booooum is based and developed in collaboration with the scientific team of the Super Kamiokande experiment. Super Kamiokande is one of only a few neutrino observatories in the world. It is located a kilometre underneath Kamioka mountain in Japan and consists of a cylindrical steel tank,about 40m in diameter, filled with 50,000 tons of ultra-pure water, and lined with 11,146 hand blown glass photomultiplier tubes. Experiments like the Super Kamiokande are Physicists’ attempt to see into the dimensions that are inaccessible to us, to expand the horizon of our understanding of matter.
This large installation consisted of a 22 meter long ‘river’ of water running through a tunnel lined with thousands of silver balloons (photomultiplier tubes). Members of the public embark on a boat, pulled through the tunnel on a submerged track using a pulley system, with sound and lighting effects, and with an expert particle physicist navigator as a guide. On the journey they learn of neutrinos, their role in the Universe and how scientists detect them. All crew members must first don white Tyvek suits, wellies and hard hats or else face the wrath of Nelly the security chief, at the entrance of the tunnel. This installation is designed to deliver physically thrilling experiences; emerging the audience on a journey through the physics of the Universe.