The 200-franc note
Presentation of the new 200-franc note at the Paul Scherrer Institute, PSI, in Villigen 2019
Presentation of the new 200-franc note at the International Banknote Designers Conference in Lisbon 2018
“Where do we come from?” – From the stars. Since most of the atoms we are made of were produced in the stars several billions of years ago. We are children of the stars. We are star dust. “Where do the stars come from?” – The stars began to form where matter was at its densest in the early universe. “Where does matter come from?” – Matter is a transformation of the energy from the big bang. While expanding the universe cooled down. At a certain temperature, the energy from the big bang transformed itself into the elementary particles of matter. “Where does the big bang come from?” – The inclination of asking for a more primary cause is a deeply human characteristic. It is comparable to the curiosity which beams uncloudedly out of the eyes of a child. The new 200-franc note invites you to examine with such eyes the design which centres around the question of all questions: “Where do we come from?”
In the background of the front side, the design is showing the evolution of the universe until 380,000 years after the big bang. In the first and inconceivably tiny fractions of a second, the elementary particles of matter were formed. The further development of matter can be compared with drizzling rain: The drizzling rain starts to agglomerate thus building thicker and thicker rain drops. Similarly, the elementary particles agglomerated and formed more and more complex particles until after 380,000 years, the first atoms emerged. However, the dispersal of matter was unequal. There were regions of higher density and regions of lower density. Where the universe was at its densest, matter collapsed. This gave birth to the first stars.
Later on, not only stars but also planets were formed. After 9.2 billion years, our solar system and our earth originated. The distribution of water and land on earth is far from being rigid. The landmasses never cease to shift. On the globe of the 200-franc note, the distribution of continents can be discovered as it had been in Late Cretaceous, 90 million years ago.
The evolution of the earth and its landmasses left its traces also on the security strip below the globe: A geological map with different hatchings is highlighting the sediments of various ages. In addition, a list can be found indicating the most relevant stages in the evolution of the universe including their time specification.
The big bang was not only the birth of matter. It was also the birth of space and time. On the 200-franc note, the dimension of space is symbolised by the hand exemplifying the combination of two three-dimensional vectors in vector geometry. The three arrows represent the three dimensions of space. The position of these axes was chosen in a way that their origin coincides with the white centre of the big bang. This again suggests that the origin of space is the big bang.
The centre of the big bang coincides with another spot of the 200-franc note: On the verso of the banknote, we can see a particle detector whose construction is based upon two existing detectors at CERN. CERN is the worldwide biggest particle accelerator and is situated in Geneva on French and Swiss territory. At CERN, scientists attempt to come as close as possible to the big bang. For this purpose, they accelerate protons and let them collide. On the banknote, this is shown as a white ray. The particle detector analyses the collision and visualises the recorded data as curved lines and small towers arranged around the centre of the collision. It is this centre, which is congruent with the centre of the big bang on the recto. This conveys the following message: The recto represents the theoretical aspect of science and visualises the well-established theories about the big bang. On the other hand, the verso is dedicated to the practical aspect of science used to verify or falsify theories in elaborate experiments. Both aspects deal with the same subject: with the big bang. That is the reason why both centres coincide.