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March 14, 2017

What is CERN?

CBR looks at the birthplace of the World Wide Web and the Large Hadron Collider.

By Ellie Burns

CERN is a European research organisation which boasts the largest particle physics laboratory in the world.

Derived from the name “Conseil Européen pour la Recherche Nucléaire” and established in 1954, CERN is based in Geneva. The main function of CERN is to provide particle accelerators and other infrastructure required for high-energy physics research.

One of CERN’s biggest claims to fame includes being the birthplace of the World Wide Web. In 1989, the World Wide Web started life as a CERN project named ENQUIRE, initiated by Sir Tim Berners-Lee. Based on the hypertext concept, the project was intended to enable the sharing of information among researchers.

What is the Large Hadron Collider?

Another high-profile claim to fame is the organisation’s Large Hadron Collider (LHC), the world’s largest and most powerful particle collider and the largest single machine in the world.

Built between 1998 and 2008 in collaboration with over 10,000 scientists and engineers from over 100 countries, the LHC lies in a tunnel 17 miles in circumference and more than 100 ft below ground. The LHC allows physicists to test the predictions of different theories of particle physics, high-energy physics and the properties of the Higgs boson. Ultimately it aims to advance the human understanding of physical laws.

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