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Video clips show railway tunnel opening ceremony – not ‘satanic’ side of European physics project Cern

IN SHORT: A viral video shows a strange and flummoxing performance, but it has nothing to do with the European Organization for Nuclear Research and doesn’t prove a connection between Cern and devil worship. It was part of the opening ceremony for a railway tunnel.

“On the same day of the Solar Eclipse ( 8th of Apr 2024), The powers that be have chosen to re - activate the CERN hydron collider,” reads a recent post on a Facebook group page in Uganda.

It adds: “This hydron collider does not only collide atomic particles but it also opens portals to the demonic realm.”

As proof of its claim, the post links to a TikTok clip from footage of a performance that includes dancers, a military band and a huge video display.


Under that is the logo of Cern, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, with an equal sign and the number 666. This is known as the “number of the beast”, taken from the Christian bible’s book of Revelation and associated with the Antichrist or the Devil.

The performance in the clip is often bizarre, but a voiceover tries to explain. It says the display shows the “opening of some kind of portal”. A dancer wearing what looks like a goat’s head with long curved horns is described as “the goat man, or Satan”.

This and other clips of the performance have been circulating on social media in South Africa, Nigeria and elsewhere in April 2024, with similar claims. They include:

The claim can also be seen here, here, here and here.

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What is Cern?

Cern is a multinational physics organisation. It is located on the border of France and Switzerland in the town of Meyrin near Geneva, the Swiss capital. It was set up in 1954 to look into the fundamental particles that make up the universe. Its focus is pure science, or research that looks into the reasons for things without any real-world application.

One of its projects is the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) – hadron, not “hydron”. This is the world’s biggest and most powerful particle accelerator. Inside this 27-kilometre ring of superconducting magnets, two beams of particles travelling in opposite directions are brought close to the speed of light. They then collide, releasing other particles for scientists to study.

Cern’s most famous achievement is the 2012 discovery of the Higgs boson, the mass-giving field that allowed stars and planets to form in the early universe.

The Higgs boson is also known as the God particle. This has made Cern a target of religious conspiracy theorists. The fact that the huge LHC is by necessity underground has also fuelled conspiracies that it is some kind of entrance to hell.

But is the performance in the viral clips really proof that Cern is “satanic” and a portal to hell?

Opening ceremony for railway tunnel through Swiss Alps

A reverse image search of frames from the footage reveals that it shows the opening ceremony for a railway tunnel through the Swiss Alps mountain range on 1 June 2016. 

It is called the Gotthard Base Tunnel because it cuts through the base of the Gotthard massif chain of mountains in the Alps. At the time, the US$12-billion, 57-kilometre tunnel was said to be the longest conventional railway tunnel in the world.

The opening ceremony was held at the Rynaecht fairground near the northern entrance to the tunnel in Erstfeld, a town in central Switzerland. Erstfeld is over 200 kilometres from Cern’s headquarters in Meyrin.

The abstract 30-minute performance, which can also be seen here, here and here, was created by German theatre director Volker Hesse. At the time, media outlets described it as “odd”, “bizarre”, “creepy” and “absolutely insane”.

But it was intended as a celebration not only of the tunnel itself, but of alpine history and culture. The “the goat man”, for example, represents the alpine ibex, a wild mountain goat native to the region, and not “Satan”, as the viral posts claim.

Furthermore, Cern did not “reactivate” the LHC on 8 April 2024, the day of the total solar eclipse over parts of North America.

Instead, the collider’s 2024 science season started in mid-February after a winter maintenance break. On 8 March, a month before the eclipse, it achieved its first stable particle beams.

The strange dance performance captured on video took place in the same country where Cern is – partly –  located, but there is no other connection between the two.

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