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CERN: frontiers of knowledge.




From a green field to the world's leading laboratory for particle physics: founded in 1954, the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN) today is at the very core of scientific discovery and invention. Operating at the frontiers of technology and engineering, 10,000 scientists from over 110 countries have been probing some of the world's most daring and critical research in an effort to unlock the greatest mysteries of our existence--like how the universe came to be, what it is made of and how it works.

Particle accelerators and detectors are amongst the complex scientific instruments used to study the very basic constituents of matter (the fundamental particles) at the CERN laboratory, which straddles the border of Switzerland and France near Geneva. Particle accelerators, such as CERN's flagship 27-kilometre Large Hadron Collider (LHC), boost beams of particles to high speeds (e.g. 99.9 per cent of the speed of light) so that they can be fired off in opposite directions and made to collide. These collisions create showers of new particles that are recorded by detectors and are studied by scientists. In accordance with the mission laid out in the CERN Convention of 1954, all scientific findings are published or made available through lectures, workshops, exhibitions and events.

Run by its 20 member states, CERN is a beacon of international cooperation, facilitating and fostering the contact and exchange between scientists, laboratories and institutes across the globe. In its 58-year-history, the laboratory has facilitated five Nobel Prize winners and observed some of the most remarkable inventions and discoveries in particle physics (ranging from particle detectors to new methods for nuclear magnetic precision measurements). Some milestones achieved at CERN have also found wider applications in the general domain--such as the worldwide web, a technology originally developed as a communication tool for particle physicists across the globe.

CERN most recently captured the attention of the world last July, when 50 years of research culminated in the discovery of a new particle consistent with the Higgs boson. This elementary particle--often referred to as the 'god particle'-had been postulated by Peter Higgs, Robert Brout and Francois Englert in their Standard Model in 1964 but had remained notoriously elusive. It is hoped that the boson may shed light on the mystery of our universe. On 11 December 2012, seven scientists involved in the experiment were awarded USD 3 million by the Fundamental Physics Prize foundation for their outstanding contribution.

We use these exciting times to glance behind the scenes and discover CERN through the eyes of tour very different people: Francois de Rose (founding father of CERN), Agnieszka Zalawska (President of CERN Council), Fabiola Gianotti (spokesperson of the ATLAS experiment) and Jasmin Trostl (PhD student at the CLOUD experiment).

CERN timeline

1954: Foundation of CERN

1957: Operation of the first accelerators

1959: Inaguration of the Proton Synchrotron accelerator

1968: Georges Charpak revolutionises particle detection

1971 : Development of the first proton-proton collider

1973: Discovery of neutral currents at a bubble chamber

1976: The building of the Super Proton Synchrotron

1983: Discovery of W&Z Particles

1989: Large Electron Positron collider starts operation

1989: Tim Berners-Lee invents the worldwide web

1990: Precise results on matter-antimatter asymmetry

1995: First observation of antihydrogen

1999: Construction of LHC

2009: First collision in LHC

2012: Discovery of a Higgs-like particle

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Title Annotation:people: insider
Author:Scheuringer, Carina
Publication:Swiss News
Date:Feb 1, 2013
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