CERN external image cern_logo.gif
European Organization for Nuclear Research

"What's for sure is that a brave new world of physics will emerge from the new accelerator as knowledge in particle physics goes on to describe the workings of the Universe." -CERN

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What is CERN?

The European Organization for Nuclear Research, or CERN (an acronym derived from the French name-- Conseil Européen pour la Recherche Nucléaireis) is an international laboratory that serves to study the fundamental building blocks of the universe. They strive to understand how the universe works, a very difficult task. Through the collaboration of over twenty European countires, the organization is the world's largest and most respected particle physics laboratory. It is the home of over 2,000 scientists, and almost 8,000 scientist and engineers, from over 80 countires, contribute to the research. The most expensive and complex machines are used to understand the fundamental particles that are the foundation of our universe. They want to advance the frontiers of technology, bring nations together through science, train future scientists, provide information about our universe to the world. For complete document for the establishment of a European Organization for nuclear Research:

A Brief History of CERN:

Founding of CERN (1954):

European scientists wanted a collaborative physics laboratory where they could conduct experiments and share ideas. The first proposal for a European laboratory came from a French physist by the name of Louis de Broglie in 1949. At the CERN Convention the proposal was slowly ratified, and on September 29, 1954 CERN was founded in Geneva, Switzerland.

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The First Accelerator SC (1957):
CERN's first accelerator was the 600 MeV Synchrocylcotron which was built in 1957 and provided berms for the first particle and nuclear physics experiments. However, as years passed the SC was only used for conducting nuclear physics experiments and not particle physics. In 1967, it started supplying beams for an ion facility called ISOLDE, which does research for a multitude of physics fields including nuclear physics, astrophysics, and medical physics. The SC is no longer operating.

Proton Synchrotron (1959):
The PS was, for a short period of time, the world's highest energy particle accelerator. It stated accelerting protons for the first time on November 24, 1959 with a beam energy of 28 GeV. Because CERN built new accelerators, the PS's main role shifted to supply particles to the new machines.

Georges Charpak and the multiwire proportional chamber (1968): external image img6.gif
During the 1960s, scientists had the tedious and labor intensive job of examining millions of photographs from bubble chambers or spark chambers to find rare physics phenomas. In 1968, Charpak developed the 'multiwire proportional chamber'. This revolutionizing chamber was a gas filled box with a lot of parallel detector wires, which were each connect to an amplifier. These detectos were a thousand times better than existing detectos. Charpak was awarded the 1992 Nobel Prize in Physics for his work on particle detectors. The multiwire proportional chamber and other variations of it are still widely used by particle physists today. Learn more:

Detection (1968)
external image 7304218-A5-at-72-dpi.jpgBefore Georges Charpak, particle were detected through the analysis of hundred of bubble chamber phtographs. Charpak invented a detector wire which attached to an amplifier. This invention could detect much smaller particles and made the work much easier. The counting rate for particles improved by 1000 percent. Charpak won the Nobel Prize for this discovery in 1959. His invention is the basis of the much larger particle detectors used today.

World's first proton-proton collider (1971):

The Intersecting Storage Rings (ISR) began operating in January 1971. While many other physics laboratories focused on colliding electrons, CERN wanted to collide protons. They wanted to use the PS to make intense proton beams, which would then collide in the ISR. There were many obstacles while building the 300-meter diameter ISR because the lack of development in high-vacuum techniques and controlling particle beams. The first proton-proton collision took place in the ISR on January 27, 1971!

Neutral Currents (1973):

In 1972, Andre Lagarrigue and colleagues performed an experiement where they witnessed an invisible neutrino pass through the Geramelle bubble chamber at CERN jolting an electron in its wake. After further research and experiments they announced the discovery of neutral currents in 1973.

The SPS (1976): external image 010829_med.jpg

The Super Proton Synchrotron has been very important at CERN. It is an astounding seven kilometers in circumference and today has the beam energy of 450 GeV. Its main purposes are to perform experiments for the particle physics program, provide beams to two large experimental reas, investigte the inne strcuture of protons, studied matter versus antimatter, and looked for matter as it might have been when the Universe had just begun. The major discovery of the SPS was the discovery of the W and Z particles.

The discovery of the W and Z particles (1983):

SPS was used as a proton-antiproton collider. Its goal was to find the carriers of the weak interaction between particles, or W and Z particles. Carlo Rubbia and Simon van der Meer, the two key scientists behind the discovery, received the Nobel Peace Prize only a year after they announced the discovery of the W and Z particles at CERn in 1983.

LEP (1989):
The Large Electron-Positron collider is the largest electron-positron accelerator ever built with a 27 km circumference, and was completed in 1989. LEP has studied electroweak interactions thoroughly, and experiments have proved that there are only three generations of particles of matter.

Tim Berners-Lee invents the Web (1990): external image bernerslee-.jpg

Scientists needed a more efficient and faster way of sharing information, so Berners-Lee of CERN developed the idea for a distributed system for the Laboratory, or as he later developed the idea, the Web. In 1991 the Web system was released to the particle physics community. Then, it started spreading through universities, then to the public. Learn more about Tim Berners-Lee and his amazing invention:

Anti-matter and Matter (1993-1995):
Although little is known about anti-matter and matter, CERN is working hard to figure out the mystery. We know that the Big Bang created the same amount of matter and anti-matter particles, but we don't exactly know why there is one matter particle for every billion anti-matter particles. In September 1995, Walter Oelert and a team of scientists created atoms of antihydrogen in the Low Energy Antiporton Ring at CERN. This was the first time that antimatter particles had been brought together to make complete atoms. Since the hydrogen atom is the best understood system, we can use antihydrogen to understand the matter-antimatter asymmetry in the Universe.

Direct C-P Violation (1999):
The NA48 experiments were an important leap in the study of kaons and lead to some of the most imporatant experimental results ever found at CERN. CP symmmetry was a theory that stated that the laws of physics would still apply to a particle after it had interacted with its anti-particle. CP is the product of the two molecule's symmetry. Direct CP violation was first suggested to be false in 1964, but there was no proof until the 1999 NA48 experiment at CERN. The study also contributed to the understanding of the decay of neutral kaons.

Take A Look at CERN!

Recent Discoveries:

CERN is currently the home of six particle detectors (ATLAS, ALICE, CMS, LHCb, TOTEM, and LHCf).