On this day September 29, 1954
Eleven countries signed a convention establishing the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN), currently the world’s largest particle physics laboratory.
The acronym CERN originally stood, in French, for Conseil Européen pour la Recherche Nucléaire (European Council for Nuclear Research), which was a provisional council for setting up the laboratory.
The organization was established by the following 11 European governments; Belgium, Denmark, West Germany, France, Greece, Italy, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, Netherlands and United Kingdom.
Today the organization has twenty European member states, and is currently the workplace of approximately 2,600 full-time employees, as well as some 7,931 scientists and engineers (representing 580 universities and research facilities and 80 nationalities).
CERN’s main function is to provide the particle accelerators and other infrastructure needed for high-energy physics research. Numerous experiments have been constructed at CERN by international collaborations to make use of them. It is also noted for being the birthplace of the World Wide Web.
The main site at Meyrin also has a large computer centre containing very powerful data processing facilities primarily for experimental data analysis, and because of the need to make them available to researchers elsewhere, has historically been (and continues to be) a major wide area networking hub.
As an international facility, the CERN sites are officially under neither Swiss nor French jurisdiction. Member states’ contributions to CERN for the year 2008 totalled CHF 1 billion (approximately € 664 million).
Several important achievements in particle physics have been made during experiments at CERN. The 1984 Nobel Prize in physics was awarded to Carlo Rubbia and Simon van der Meer for the developments that led to the discoveries of the W and Z bosons. The 1992 Nobel Prize in physics was awarded to CERN staff researcher Georges Charpak “for his invention and development of particle detectors, in particular the multiwire proportional chamber.”
The World Wide Web began as a CERN project called ENQUIRE, initiated by Tim Berners-Lee in 1989 and Robert Cailliau in 1990. Berners-Lee and Cailliau were jointly honored 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 aimed at facilitating sharing information among researchers. The first website went on-line in 1991. On 30 April 1993, CERN announced that the World Wide Web would be free to anyone. A copy of the original first webpage, created by Berners-Lee, is still published on the World Wide Web Consortium website as a historical document.