For the company with the ticker symbol CERN, see Cerner. For the rocket nozzle, see SERN.

Coordinates: 46°14′03″N 6°03′10″E / 46.23417°N 6.05278°E / 46.23417; 6.05278

European Organization
for Nuclear Research
Organisation européenne
pour la recherche nucléaire

Member states
Formation September 29, 1954 (1954-09-29)[1]
Headquarters Meyrin, Canton of Geneva, Switzerland
Official languages
English and French
Council President
Sijbrand de Jong[2]
Fabiola Gianotti

The European Organization for Nuclear Research (French: Organisation européenne pour la recherche nucléaire), known as CERN (/ˈsɜːrn/; French pronunciation: [sɛʁn]; derived from the name "Conseil Européen pour la Recherche Nucléaire"; see History), is a European research organization that operates the largest particle physics laboratory in the world. Established in 1954, the organization is based in a northwest suburb of Geneva on the Franco–Swiss border, (46°14′3″N 6°3′19″E / 46.23417°N 6.05528°E / 46.23417; 6.05528) and has 22 member states.[3] Israel is the only non-European country granted full membership.[4]

The term CERN is also used to refer to the laboratory, which in 2013 had 2,513 staff members, and hosted some 12,313 fellows, associates, apprentices as well as visiting scientists and engineers[5] representing 608 universities and research facilities.[6]

CERN's main function is to provide the particle accelerators and other infrastructure needed for high-energy physics research – as a result, numerous experiments have been constructed at CERN through international collaborations.

CERN is also the birthplace of the World Wide Web. The main site at Meyrin has a large computer facility containing powerful data processing facilities, primarily for experimental-data analysis; because of the need to make these facilities available to researchers elsewhere, it has historically been a major wide area network hub.


The 12 founding member states of CERN in 1954[1] (map borders from 1954-1990)

The convention establishing CERN was ratified on 29 September 1954 by 12 countries in Western Europe.[1] The acronym CERN originally represented the French words for Conseil Européen pour la Recherche Nucléaire (European Council for Nuclear Research), which was a provisional council for building the laboratory, established by 12 European governments in 1952. The acronym was retained for the new laboratory after the provisional council was dissolved, even though the name changed to the current Organisation Européenne pour la Recherche Nucléaire (European Organization for Nuclear Research) in 1954.[7] According to Lew Kowarski, a former director of CERN, when the name was changed, the acronym could have become the awkward OERN, and Heisenberg said that the acronym could "still be CERN even if the name is [not]".

CERN's first president was Sir Benjamin Lockspeiser. Edoardo Amaldi was the general secretary of CERN at its early stages when operations were still provisional, while the first Director-General (1954) was Felix Bloch.[8]

The laboratory was originally devoted to study of atomic nuclei, but was soon applied to higher-energy physics, concerned mainly with the study of interactions between subatomic particles. Therefore, the laboratory operated by CERN is commonly referred to as the European laboratory for particle physics (Laboratoire européen pour la physique des particules), which better describes the research being performed there.

Scientific achievements

Several important achievements in particle physics have been made through experiments at CERN. They include:

The 1984 Nobel Prize for Physics was awarded to Carlo Rubbia and Simon van der Meer for the developments that resulted in the discoveries of the W and Z bosons. The 1992 Nobel Prize for Physics was awarded to CERN staff researcher Georges Charpak "for his invention and development of particle detectors, in particular the multiwire proportional chamber."

Computer science

This NeXT Computer used by British scientist Sir Tim Berners-Lee at CERN became the first Web server.
This Cisco Systems router at CERN was one of the first IP routers deployed in Europe.
Plate placed next to the office where Tim Berners-Lee and Robert Cailliau began the World Wide Web

The World Wide Web began as a CERN project named ENQUIRE, initiated by Tim Berners-Lee in 1989 and Robert Cailliau in 1990.[16] Berners-Lee and Cailliau were jointly honoured by the Association for Computing Machinery in 1995 for their contributions to the development of the World Wide Web.

Based on the concept of hypertext, the project was intended to facilitate sharing of information among researchers. The first website was activated in 1991. On 30 April 1993, CERN announced that the World Wide Web would be free to anyone. A copy[17] of the original first webpage, created by Berners-Lee, is still published on the World Wide Web Consortium's website as a historical document.

Prior to the Web's development, CERN had pioneered the introduction of Internet technology, beginning in the early 1980s. A short history of this period can be found at[18]

More recently, CERN has become a facility for the development of grid computing, hosting projects including the Enabling Grids for E-sciencE (EGEE) and LHC Computing Grid. It also hosts the CERN Internet Exchange Point (CIXP), one of the two main internet exchange points in Switzerland.

Faster-than-light neutrino anomaly

On 22 September 2011, the OPERA Collaboration reported the detection of 17 GeV muon neutrinos, sent 730 kilometers (450 miles) from CERN near Geneva, Switzerland to the Gran Sasso National Laboratory in Italy, traveling apparently faster than light by a factor of 2.48×10−5 (approximately 1 in 40,000), a measurement with 6.0-sigma significance.[19] However, on 23 February, CERN stated in a press release that the results were flawed due to an incorrectly connected GPS-synchronization cable.[20] In March 2012, the ICARUS Collaboration reported that the measurement would be reproduced by both OPERA and ICARUS.[21] Further tests, after fixing the GPS connector, showed speed measurements consistent with the speed of light (or slightly below it) from four experiments at Gran Sasso, including OPERA.[20]

Particle accelerators

Current complex

Map of the CERN accelerator complex
Map of the Large Hadron Collider together with the Super Proton Synchrotron at CERN

CERN operates a network of six accelerators and a decelerator. Each machine in the chain increases the energy of particle beams before delivering them to experiments or to the next more powerful accelerator. Currently active machines are:

Large Hadron Collider

Main article: Large Hadron Collider

Many activities at CERN currently involve operating the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) and the experiments for it. The LHC represents a large-scale, worldwide scientific cooperation project.

Construction of the CMS detector for LHC at CERN

The LHC tunnel is located 100 metres underground, in the region between the Geneva International Airport and the nearby Jura mountains. It uses the 27 km circumference circular tunnel previously occupied by the Large Electron-Positron Collider (LEP) which was shut down in November 2000. CERN's existing PS/SPS accelerator complexes will be used to pre-accelerate protons which will then be injected into the LHC.

Seven experiments (CMS, ATLAS, LHCb, MoEDAL,[23] TOTEM, LHC-forward and ALICE) will be performed on the collider; each of them will study particle collisions from a different aspect, and with different technologies. Construction for these experiments required an extraordinary engineering effort. For example, a special crane was rented from Belgium to lower pieces of the CMS detector into its underground cavern, since each piece weighed nearly 2,000 tons. The first of the approximately 5,000 magnets necessary for construction was lowered down a special shaft at 13:00 GMT on 7 March 2005.

The LHC has begun to generate vast quantities of data, which CERN streams to laboratories around the world for distributed processing (making use of a specialized grid infrastructure, the LHC Computing Grid). During April 2005, a trial successfully streamed 600 MB/s to seven different sites across the world.

The initial particle beams were injected into the LHC August 2008.[24] The first beam was circulated through the entire LHC on 10 September 2008,[25] but the system failed 10 day later because of a faulty magnet connection, and it was stopped for repairs on 19 September 2008.

The LHC resumed operation on 20 November 2009 by successfully circulating two beams, each with an energy of 3.5 teraelectronvolts. The challenge for the engineers was then to try to line up the two beams so that they smashed into each other. This is like "firing two needles across the Atlantic and getting them to hit each other" according to the LHC's main engineer Steve Myers, director for accelerators and technology at the Swiss laboratory.

At 1200 BST on 30 March 2010 the LHC successfully smashed two proton particle beams travelling with 3.5 TeV (teraelectronvolts) of energy, resulting in a 7 TeV event. However, this was just the start what was needed for the expected discovery of the Higgs boson. When the 7 TeV experimental period ended, the LHC revved to 8 TeV (4 TeV acceleration in both directions) during March 2012, and soon began particle collisions at that rate. In early 2013 the LHC was deactivated for a two-year maintenance period, to strengthen the huge magnets inside the accelerator. Eventually it will attempt to create 14 TeV events. In July 2012, CERN scientists announced the discovery of a new sub-atomic particle that was possibly the much sought after Higgs boson believed to be essential for formation of the Universe.[26] In March 2013, CERN announced that the measurements performed on the newly found particle allowed it to conclude that this is a Higgs boson.[27]

On 5 April 2015 and after two years of maintenance and consolidation, the LHC restarted for a second run. Proton beams successfully circulated in the 27-kilometer ring in both directions. The first ramp to the record-breaking energy of 6.5 TeV was performed on 10 April 2015.[28][29]

Decommissioned accelerators

Possible future accelerators

CERN, in collaboration with groups worldwide, is investigating two main concepts for future accelerators: A linear electron-positron collider with a new acceleration concept to increase the energy (CLIC) and a larger version of the LHC, a project currently named Future Circular Collider.


Interior of office building 40 at the Meyrin site. Building 40 hosts many offices for scientists from the CMS and ATLAS collaborations.

The smaller accelerators are on the main Meyrin site (also known as the West Area), which was originally built in Switzerland alongside the French border, but has been extended to span the border since 1965. The French side is under Swiss jurisdiction and there is no obvious border within the site, apart from a line of marker stones. There are six entrances to the Meyrin site:

CERN's main site, from Switzerland looking towards France

The SPS and LEP/LHC tunnels are almost entirely outside the main site, and are mostly buried under French farmland and invisible from the surface. However, they have surface sites at various points around them, either as the location of buildings associated with experiments or other facilities needed to operate the colliders such as cryogenic plants and access shafts. The experiments are located at the same underground level as the tunnels at these sites.

Three of these experimental sites are in France, with ATLAS in Switzerland, although some of the ancillary cryogenic and access sites are in Switzerland. The largest of the experimental sites is the Prévessin site, also known as the North Area, which is the target station for non-collider experiments on the SPS accelerator. Other sites are the ones which were used for the UA1, UA2 and the LEP experiments (the latter which will be used for LHC experiments).

Outside of the LEP and LHC experiments, most are officially named and numbered after the site where they were located. For example, NA32 was an experiment looking at the production of so-called "charmed" particles and located at the Prévessin (North Area) site while WA22 used the Big European Bubble Chamber (BEBC) at the Meyrin (West Area) site to examine neutrino interactions. The UA1 and UA2 experiments were considered to be in the Underground Area, i.e. situated underground at sites on the SPS accelerator.

Most of the roads on the CERN Meyrin and Prévessin sites are named after famous physicists, such as Richard Feynman, Niels Bohr, and Albert Einstein.

Participation and funding

Member states and budget

Since its foundation by 12 members in 1954, CERN regularly accepted new members. All new members have remained in the organization continuously since their accession, except Spain and Yugoslavia. Spain first joined CERN in 1961, withdrew in 1969, and rejoined in 1983. Yugoslavia was a founding member of CERN but quit in 1961. Of the 22 members, Israel joined CERN as a full member on 6 January 2014,[32] becoming the first (and currently only) non-European full member.[33]

Member state Status since Contribution
(million CHF for 2014)
(fraction of total for 2014)
Contribution per capita[note 1]
(CHF/person for 2014)
Founding Members[note 2]
 Belgium 29 September 1954 30.5 2.5% 2.7
 Denmark 29 September 1954 19.3 1.6% 3.4
 France 29 September 1954 169.2 14.0% 2.6
 Germany 29 September 1954 222.9 18.5% 2.8
 Greece 29 September 1954 18.0 1.5% 1.6
 Italy 29 September 1954 126.2 10.5% 2.1
 Netherlands 29 September 1954 50.6 4.2% 3.0
 Norway 29 September 1954 28.0 2.3% 5.4
 Sweden 29 September 1954 28.7 2.4% 3.0
  Switzerland 29 September 1954 40.0 3.3% 4.9
 United Kingdom 29 September 1954 152.6 12.7% 2.4
 Yugoslavia[note 3] 29 September 1954[37][38] 0 0% 0
Acceded Members[note 4]
 Austria 1 June 1959 24.4 2.0% 2.9
 Spain[note 5] 1 January 1983[38][40] 91.1 7.6% 2.0
 Portugal 1 January 1986 13.2 1.1% 1.3
 Finland 1 January 1991 15.3 1.3% 2.8
 Poland 1 July 1991 29.3 2.4% 0.8
 Hungary 1 July 1992 7.1 0.6% 0.7
 Czech Republic 1 July 1993 11.3 0.9% 1.1
 Slovakia 1 July 1993 5.5 0.5% 1.0
 Bulgaria 11 June 1999 3.1 0.3% 0.4
 Israel 6 January 2014[32] 22.1 1.8% 2.7
 Romania 17 July 2016[41] N/A N/A% N/A
Associate Member in the pre-stage to Membership[note 6]
 Serbia 15 March 2012[42] 1.0 0.1% 0.1
 Cyprus 1 April 2016[43] %
Associate Members
 Turkey 6 May 2015[44] %
 Pakistan 31 July 2015[45] %
 Ukraine 5 Oct 2016[46] %
Associate Members pending ratification
 India 21 Nov 2016[47] %
Candidates for Accession
zaTotal Members, Candidates and Associates 1,117.3[48] 92.8%
  1. Based on the population in 2014.[34]
  2. 12 founding members drafted the Convention for the Establishment of a European Organization for Nuclear Research which entered into force on 29 September 1954.[35][36]
  3. Yugoslavia left the organization in 1961.
  4. Acceded members become CERN member states by ratifying the CERN convention.[39]
  5. Spain was previously a member state from 1961 to 1969
  6. Additional contribution from Candidates for Accession and Associate Member States.[39]


Associate Members, Candidates:

International relations

Four countries have observer status:[56]

  •  India – since 2002
  •  Japan – since 1995
  •  Russia – since 1993
  •  United States – since 1997

Also observers are the following international organizations:

Non-Member States (with dates of Co-operation Agreements) currently involved in CERN programmes are:

  •  Algeria
  •  Argentina – 11 March 1992
  •  Armenia – 25 March 1994
  •  Australia – 1 November 1991
  •  Azerbaijan – 3 December 1997
  •  Belarus – 28 June 1994
  •  Bolivia
  •  Brazil – 19 February 1990 & October 2006
  •  Canada – 11 October 1996
  •  Chile – 10 October 1991
  •  China – 12 July 1991, 14 August 1997 & 17 February 2004
  •  Colombia – 15 May 1993
  •  Croatia – 18 July 1991
  •  Ecuador
  •  Egypt – 16 January 2006
  •  Estonia – 23 April 1996
  •  Georgia – 11 October 1996
  •  Iceland – 11 September 1996
  •  Iran – 5 July 2001
  •  Jordan - 12 June 2003.[57] MoU with Jordan and SESAME, in preparation of a cooperation agreement signed in 2004.[58]
  •  Lithuania – 9 November 2004
  •  Macedonia – 27 April 2009
  •  Malta – 10 January 2008[59][60]
  •  Mexico – 20 February 1998
  •  Montenegro – 12 October 1990
  •  Morocco – 14 April 1997
  •  New Zealand – 4 December 2003
  •  Peru – 23 February 1993
  •  Saudi Arabia – 21 January 2006
  •  Slovenia – 7 January 1991
  •  South Africa – 4 July 1992
  •  South Korea – 25 October 2006
  •  United Arab Emirates – 18 January 2006
  •  Vietnam

CERN also has scientific contacts with the following countries:[61]

  •  Cuba
  •  Ghana
  •  Ireland
  •  Latvia
  •  Lebanon
  •  Madagascar
  •  Malaysia
  •  Mozambique
  •  Palestinian Authority
  •  Philippines
  •  Qatar
  •  Rwanda
  •  Singapore
  •  Sri Lanka
  •  Taiwan
  •  Thailand
  •  Tunisia
  •  Uzbekistan
  •  Venezuela

International research institutions, such as CERN, can aid in science diplomacy.[62]

Associated institutions

ESO and CERN have a cooperation agreement.[63]

Public exhibits

Facilities at CERN open to the public include:

CERN also provides daily tours to certain facilities such as the Synchro-cyclotron (CERNs first particle accelerator) and the superconducting magnet workshop.

In popular culture

Line 18 goes to CERN
The statue of Shiva engaging in the Nataraja dance presented by the Department of Atomic Energy of India.

See also


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  2. "Professor Sijbrand de Jong elected as next President of CERN Council". CERN press office. CERN. Retrieved 12 November 2016.
  3. "Member States". International Relations. CERN. Retrieved 25 November 2015.
  4. CERN to admit Israel as first new member state since 1999
  5. "CERN Annual Report 2013 – CERN in Figures". CERN. Retrieved 4 September 2014.
  6. "A global endeavour". CERN. 15 July 2015.
  7. "The Name CERN". CERN. 30 September 2011. Retrieved 16 August 2012.
  8. "People and things : Felix Bloch". CERN Courier. CERN. Retrieved 1 September 2015.
  9. "". CERN. Retrieved 20 November 2010.
  10. " La". CERN. Retrieved 20 November 2010.
  11. "". CERN. Retrieved 20 November 2010.
  12. Fanti, V.; et al. (1998). "A new measurement of direct CP violation in two pion decays of the neutral kaon". Physics Letters B. 465: 335. arXiv:hep-ex/9909022Freely accessible. Bibcode:1999PhLB..465..335F. doi:10.1016/S0370-2693(99)01030-8.
  13. Thair Shaikh (18 November 2010). "Scientists capture antimatter atoms in particle breakthrough". CNN.
  14. Jonathan Amos (6 June 2011). "Antimatter atoms are corralled even longer". BBC.
  15. CERN experiments observe particle consistent with long-sought Higgs boson | CERN press office. (2012-07-04). Retrieved on 2016-11-12.
  16. "". CERN. Retrieved 20 November 2010.
  17. "The World Wide Web project". W3C. Retrieved 20 November 2010.
  18. "A Short History of Internet Protocols at CERN". CERN. Retrieved 20 November 2010.
  19. Adrian Cho, Neutrinos Travel Faster Than Light, According to One Experiment, Science NOW, 22 September 2011.
  20. 1 2 "OPERA experiment reports anomaly in flight time of neutrinos from CERN to Gran Sasso". CERN. Retrieved 12 November 2016.
  21. The Associated Press, "Einstein Proved Right in Retest of Neutrinos' Speed", The Associated Press, 17 March 2012.
  22. "CERN Website – LINAC". CERN. Retrieved 20 November 2010.
  23. CERN Courier, "MoEDAL becomes the LHC's magnificent seventh", 5 May 2010
  24. Overbye, Dennis (29 July 2008). "Let the Proton Smashing Begin. (The Rap Is Already Written.)". The New York Times.
  25. "LHC First Beam". CERN. Retrieved 12 November 2016.
  26. "'God particle': New particle found, could be the Higgs boson, CERN scientists say". The Times Of India. 4 July 2012.
  27. 1 2 "New results indicate that particle discovered at CERN is a Higgs boson". CERN. Retrieved 12 November 2016.
  28. O'Luanaigh, Cian. "First successful beam at record energy of 6.5 TeV". CERN: Accelerating science. CERN. Retrieved 24 April 2015.
  29. O'Luanaigh, Cian. "Proton beams are back in the LHC". CERN: Accelerating science. CERN. Retrieved 24 April 2015.
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  33. Rahman, Fazlur. (2013-11-11) Israel may become first non-European member of nuclear research group CERN – Diplomacy and Defense Israel News. Haaretz. Retrieved on 2014-04-28.
  34. List of countries by population
  35. ESA Convention (PDF) (6th ed.). European Space Agency. September 2005. ISBN 92-9092-397-0.
  37. "Member States". International relations. CERN. Retrieved 25 November 2015.
  38. 1 2 "Member States". CERN timelines. CERN. Retrieved 25 November 2015.
  39. 1 2 "CERN Member States". CERN Council website. CERN. Retrieved 16 July 2012.
  40. "Spain". International Relations. CERN. Retrieved 25 November 2015.
  42. 1 2 "CERN Associate Members". International Relations. CERN. 16 March 2012. Retrieved 5 July 2014.
  43. 1 2 "Cyprus". International Relations. CERN. Retrieved 4 April 2016.
  44. "Turkey". International Relations. CERN. Retrieved 28 August 2015.
  45. "Pakistan". International Relations. CERN. Retrieved 21 November 2016.
  46. 1 2 "Ukraine becomes an associate member of CERN". Media and Press Relations. CERN. 5 October 2016.
  47. "India to become Associate Member State of CERN". Media and Press Relations. CERN. 21 November 2016.
  48. "Member States' Contributions – 2014". CERN website. CERN. Retrieved 6 July 2014.
  49. "Vesti – Srbija zvanično postala član CERN-a". B92. Retrieved 4 July 2012.
  50. "Serbia expected to become CERN Associate Member". CMS Experiment web site. CERN. 18 January 2012. Retrieved 5 July 2014.
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  53. "Pakistan becomes Associate Member State of CERN | CERN". Retrieved 2015-08-01.
  54. "Pakistan officially becomes an associate member of CERN - The Express Tribune". Retrieved 2015-08-01.
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  56. "Observers". International Relations. CERN. Retrieved 15 December 2015.
  57. "Jordan". International Relations. CERN. Retrieved 4 July 2012.
  58. "SESAME". International Relations. CERN. 17 October 2011. Retrieved 4 July 2012.
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  60. "Malta signs agreement with CERN". Times of Malta. 11 January 2008. Retrieved 23 May 2014.
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  63. "ESO and CERN Sign Cooperation Agreement". Retrieved 21 December 2015.
  64. "Large Hadron Rap". YouTube. Retrieved 20 November 2010.
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  67. "Angels and Demons". CERN. Retrieved 31 January 2012.
  68. Boyle, Rebecca (31 October 2012). "Large Hadron Collider Unleashes Rampaging Zombies". Retrieved 22 November 2012.
  69. A year of Google Ingress January 2014

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