What is CERN (the European Organization for Nuclear Research)?« Back to Questions List

CERN is the acronym for the French "Conseil Européen pour la Recherche Nucléaire". It means European Council for Nuclear Research. CERN was founded in 1952 with the objective of creating a distinctive fundamental physics research organization. 

Scientists at CERN are pursuing the two vital questions; what the universe is made of and how the process started. Physics states that matter is made up of atoms. While setting up the organization in 1952, researchers were trying to understand the contents of the atom and hence the word ‘nuclear’ found place in the name of the organization. 

CERN, European Organization for Nuclear Research, particle physics, fundamental physics, research organization, Standard Model equations, European Laboratory for Particle Physics, accelerators, detectors

As of now, scientists have acquired sufficient knowledge about nucleus and hence the studies are concentrated on particle physics. This branch physics researches on the fundamental constituents of matter and the forces acting between them. CERN uses powerful particle accelerators for carrying out the studies. Because of the focus on particle physics, CERN is often referred to as the European Laboratory for Particle Physics.

Since 1970s, physicists have been using Standard Model equations to describe the fundamental structure of matter. It states that everything in universe is made up of fundamental particles, a few basic blocks, governed by four forces. CERN Laboratory has designed a Large Hadron Collider, consisting of powerful particle accelerators and detectors.  Many of the equations have been proven through experiments. But, Standard Model equations define only 4% of known universe. 

The CERN laboratory is located near Geneva in the France-Swiss border. The joint venture has now 22 members. Collisions of particles made at speed close to that of light are being studied by scientists to have insights into the fundamental laws of nature. What is Higgs Boson? Why is Large Hadron Collider important?

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