It’s the Big Boy’s 57th birthday and this is as good a time as it has ever had! CERN, the premier high energy research institute, the home of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), has got its hands full at the moment. With the Higgs search nearing a climactic ending and the recent neutrino results from OPERA, CERN has no need or time to look back. The future is bright and beautiful, not to mention potentially revolutionary. But look back, we must, for the last 57 years have been glorious ones too!
CERN: Needs no description
CERN, an acronym for European Organization for Nuclear Research (the proper acronym is in French Centre EuropÃ©enne pour la Recherche NuclÃ©aire ), is located in the pristine suburbs of Franco-Swiss border. While today it is known mostly for the LHC and its awesome power, CERN has had huge achievements in the past. It has yielded at least 2 Nobel Prizes in experimental physics, verified the Standard Model beyond doubt and has, along with the Tevatron, been the experimental hub of the particle physics world.
Inventing the WWW
The fact that you’re reading this very article is also thanks to CERN, since it invented the World Wide Web. It established hypertext protocols. It is now leading in ushering in the next generation of computing concepts like GRID computing. It has also revolutionized the art of making strong magnets a necessity in high-energy colliders and a mainstay of the medical diagnostic industry. While the Tevatron had pioneered in this field, the research carried on by CERN has far outrun Tevatron’s. Today, CERN’s coding wing is one of the best in the world, once again showing that, even in the fringe fields, CERN’s contributions have been revolutionary.
The Real Deal
Of course, these are mere morsels compared to the achievements by CERN in its main field of interest high energy physics. It has confirmed or demolished one idea after the other in the last six decades and is on the verge of another such feat right now. It has discovered neutral currents’ (1973), a vital component in the theory of weak interaction. It established weak interaction theory with the discovery of the W and Z bosons a decade later (1983). Tevatron was just being established at Fermilab at this time. It would then, in one fell swoop, usher in American dominance in the particle physics world and leave the European counterpart far behind. However, it was only at CERN’s historic Large Electron-Positron Collider (LEP) that the neutrino families were discovered (1989). LEP’s results now form the stepping stone for anyone entering the phenomenological field of high-energy physics.
The world-famous CP-violation effect was also directly noted at CERN in 1999, eliminating any shred of doubt that anyone might have had.
Of course, now it is breaking all barriers in Collider Physics with the LHC running at full blast and expected to go a couple of notches higher. Whether Higgs is found or not, LHC will have discovered major physics.
Here’s wishing CERN a very happy birthday. In the world of blazing fast results from higher and higher energy domains, CERN remains indomitable and will remain so for many years to come.
Best wishes and may you have a really long life.