The world’s largest particle physics laboratory turns 60 today! The European Organization for Nuclear Research (as CERN is officially known) is a European research organisation which runs the world’s largest particle physics laboratory.
Although it was originally intended to facilitate understanding of the structure of atoms, the research has now progressed to focus predominantly on particle physics, which is the study of the fundamental constituents of matter and the forces acting between them.
A European institution borne from the desire to unify a continent recently torn apart by war, pooling resources to improve the standards of scientific research, CERN is now a world-renowned facility which is frequently used by scientists from all over the world.
The idea of creating such an international organisation was first conceived at the end of the Second World War. In 1949, at the European Cultural Conference in Lausannne, French physicist Louis de Broglie made the first official proposal for the creation of a European laboratory.
Over the following years, the idea gathered momentum and, in 1951, at an intergovernmental meeting of UNESCO, the first resolution was adopted and, 2 months later, 11 European countries signed an agreement to establish the provisional council.
On 29th September 1954, the European Organization for Nuclear Research was born. The acronym CERN remained, despite the change of name, and the rest, as they say, is history!
A number of events have been taking place across Europe this year, to mark this special anniversary, with a number taking place at CERN itself. For further information, please visit the dedicated CERN60 website.