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CERNie

Javier Serrano

If people were synonymous, Javier’s would be knowledge sharing. Since 1998, he has been at CERN, where he leads the Hardware and Timing section of the Beams control room. He works in the domain of particle accelerators controls, together with people who are mainly involved in electronic design and low-level software development, most of the time, in the form of Linux Device Drivers.

Javier is from Castellón, a small city in eastern Spain surrounded on one side by the Desert de les Palmes, a mountain range almost 20km long, and on the other by the calm swaying of the Mediterranean. He does not miss it much because he goes there quite often (we are referring, of course, to the pre-pandemic period).

Returning to Castellón is synonymous with reunions with family and old friends. “I have come to appreciate some things that I did not appreciate so much before”, he says. The sea, for example, where his children discovered that their father, not very skilled in skiing, knew how to swim, dive, fish and sail. Synonymous with cool and exotic.

Javier left Castellón in 1993, when he went to Lyon (France) to do his university studies in electronics and physics. Shortly after finishing them, he landed at CERN, which is still like a gift for him. “I think we are very lucky to have extremely competent, motivated and interesting people to work with. It is always a pleasure to come in the mornings and spend time with them”, tells.

In addition to the CERNies, Javier is passionate about CERN’s mandate, which includes knowledge sharing as a key point. For him, sharing one’s knowledge is a natural and almost impulsive act. “Once we understand something, most of us want to share it, but if you are part of an institution whose mandate is in contradiction with that sharing, then you can have an internal conflict. At CERN we are very fortunate because, from its convention, we are encouraged to take some time to ensure that we share the knowledge that we generate here”.

Richard Feynman, who became one of Javier’s great heroes of physics, not only because he was a great physicist, but because he was synonymous with quite a character, once said that the more we know about something, the more beautiful it seems to us. When Javier hears the word beauty he thinks of Feynman, for whom everything we know enriches our experience and contributes to beauty.

The same beauty is hidden in the chords of the composer and guitarist Francisco Tárrega, born in Villareal, which is almost Castellón, except for the football team. Javier believes that there is something special about the sound of a guitar. “It is very difficult to describe what it feels like to listen to a well played guitar. That is what beauty is all about. It is not something you can describe in words”, although it has many synonyms in the form of pleasure and sharing, and shared pleasure.

He is a big fan of the Tárrega Festival, an international classical guitar event, which has been held in Benicassim every summer since 1967. Javier used to go there every year, and enjoyed it very much. But now, he also enjoys the guitar on another level.

With one of his kids, who is learning to program and design electronics with him, he prepares hacking sessions. Currently, both are programming the sound of a guitar string. “We are learning what it takes to make that same sound artificially, by software”, and he is enjoying it immensely because that extra knowledge is synonymous with extra pleasure and extra beauty.

Javier’s future dreams will be related to knowledge sharing. Perhaps, playing a role in creating a European or global foundation to ensure that public money is spent in a coherent way, and thus generate some kind of broad and publicly available knowledge base. Perhaps, working for it in his domain: software and electronics. Who knows?

What is known is that, even in dreams, he is synonymous with sharing knowledge. “I don’t even think this is professional. It permeates my whole life”, he confesses. As Nietzsche stated, “he who has a why to live for can bear almost any how”, and Javier certainly has that why.

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