29 September 2012

CERN Celebrates Its 58th Anniversary Bringing Humanity to the Forefront of Science and the Universe

CERN or the European Organization for Nuclear Research celebrates its 58th anniversary this year. Originally, CERN stood for Conseil Européen pour la Recherche Nucléaire (European Council for Nuclear Research).

In July 1953, 12 member states established the CERN convention. They envisioned creating a European laboratory focused on atomic physics which would unite European scientists together and also share in the cost of maintaining such a facility.

The 12 founding member states were Belgium, Denmark, France, the Federal Republic of Germany, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and Yugoslavia. On 29 September 1954, CERN was ratified and the facility was renamed to its present name, The European Organization for Nuclear Research. Despite this, the original acronym, CERN, remained.

58 years later, CERN has been in the forefront of science contributing major studies such as the construction of the Large Hadron Collider used in the search for the Higgs-Boson, the creation of the first anti-matter (anti-hydrogen in 1995) and even contributing its technology to solar power panels. These are but a few of the fruits of CERN's research.

Even the World Wide Web was invented in CERN's laboratories by Tim Berners-Lee and a computer created by Steve Jobs. CERN is not only about serious science, they also host an annual film festival showcasing films that deal with science related subjects, the CinéGlobe International Film Festival at CERN.

Simple Beginnings

When the CERN convention was established, the members decided that the lab and research facility will be erected in Geneva. They picked a patch of green fields where, Nobel physicist Felix Bloch laid the first stone of CERN (together with a time capsule) in what then was the largest building site in Europe.

CERN has gone through a lot of changes. It was not the only nuclear and science facilities around. But through it all, it has emerged as the premier nuclear research facility in the 21st century. Until now, they tackle such subjects as faster than light neutrinos, the use of anti-protons for cancer therapy, and even studying the Sun for yet undiscovered particles called axions.

CERN, 58 years later, still delves into Nobel Prize winning research and studies to bring humanity to the forefront of science and the universe.

A Brief History of CERN

At the end of the Second World War, European science was no longer the crème de la crème. Following the example of the now mushrooming international organizations, a handful of visionary scientists imagined creating a European atomic physics laboratory. Raoul Dautry, Pierre Auger and Lew Kowarski in France, Edoardo Amaldi in Italy and Niels Bohr in Denmark were among these pioneers. Such a laboratory would not only unite European scientists but also allow them to share the increasing costs of nuclear physics facilities.

Video: Highlights Of CERN's Beginnings

French physicist Louis de Broglie put the first official proposal for the creation of a European laboratory forward at the European Cultural Conference in Lausanne in December 1949. A further push came at the fifth UNESCO General Conference, held in Florence in June 1950, where the American Nobel laureate physicist, Isidor Rabi tabled a resolution authorizing UNESCO to "assist and encourage the formation of regional research laboratories in order to increase international scientific collaboration…" At an intergovernmental meeting of UNESCO in Paris in December 1951, the first resolution concerning the establishment of a European Council for Nuclear Research was adopted. Two months later, 11 countries signed an agreement establishing the provisional Council – the acronym CERN was born. At the provisional Council's third session in October 1952, Geneva was chosen as the site of the future Laboratory. This choice was finally ratified in a referendum organized by the Canton of Geneva in June 1953.

The CERN Convention, established in July 1953, was gradually ratified by the 12 founding Member States: Belgium, Denmark, France, the Federal Republic of Germany, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and Yugoslavia. On 29 September 1954, following ratification by France and Germany, the European Organization for Nuclear Research officially came into being. The provisional CERN was dissolved but the acronym remained.


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