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CERN (Conseil Europeen pour la Recherche Nucleaire)

Contributor(s): Dr. Ron Peterson

CERN is a high-energy particle physics organization headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland. The organization, founded in 1954, currently has about 20 member countries. In French, the acronym CERN stands for "Conseil Europeen pour la Recherche Nucleaire" which translates to the English "European Council for Nuclear Research."

The idea for CERN was born in 1949 when physicist Louis de Broglie (pronounced de BROY) suggested that all the countries of Europe ought to share a scientific laboratory. In 1952, a provisional CERN was formed and joined by several nations. The first official meeting of the CERN council was held in 1955. The first CERN particle accelerator began operating in 1957. Since that time, several other particle accelerators, sometimes called "atom smashers" by lay people, were built. The latest is the Large Hadron Collider (LHC). CERN has also conducted detection experiments involving neutrinos and other elusive particles. The results of such experiments may give physicists and astronomers clues about the formation and evolution of the universe.

Because it is a joint effort among governments, CERN enables countries with small populations to participate in advanced physics experiments without having to unnecessarily burden their science budgets. In addition, CERN fosters a sense of international cooperation and understanding.

In 1991, a researcher at CERN, Dr. Tim Berners-Lee, essentially invented the World Wide Web. Berners-Lee is credited with developing the idea of combining hypertext with the speed of today's electronic networks. Working with a small team, he developed the Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) on which the Web is based. The HTTP rule set was applied to the Internet and became the standard protocol for navigating among Web sites.

This was last updated in March 2011



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