• Coming together to celebrate CERN70

    Coming together to celebrate CERN70

    This year has seen a wealth of activities for CERN’s 70th anniversary. More is to still to come, including the CERN70 Community Event on 17 September CERN’s 70th anniversary is a remarkable milestone, and celebrations at CERN and across Member and Associate Member States have been taking place since the official launch in January 2024.…

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  • The end of the alphabet

    The end of the alphabet

    In 1983, CERN reached the end of the alphabet when the Laboratory announced the discovery of the long-sought W and Z particles. The announcement was so momentous that, the following year, the two scientists behind the discovery received the Nobel Prize in Physics. In 1984, Carlo Rubbia, the instigator of the conversion of the Super…

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  • A first discovery

    A first discovery

    A few months after CERN’s first accelerator, the Synchrocyclotron (SC), was commissioned, a first experiment was launched. At the time, weak interactions were among the most hotly debated topics in high-energy physics. Scientists were puzzled, for example, about the decay of the particle known as the pion. The particle was known to decay into two…

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  • The dark side of the muon

    The dark side of the muon

    In the 1950s, the muon was still a complete enigma. Physicists could not yet say with certainty whether it was simply a much heavier electron (with 200 times the mass) or whether it belonged to another species of particle. Acting on an idea of Leon Lederman, CERN launched the “g-2” experiment in 1959, aimed at…

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  • Tracing particles

    Tracing particles

    In the 1960s and 1970s, two techniques for accurately recording the tracks of invisible particles dominated experimental high-energy physics, the bubble chamber and the spark chamber. The pictures produced – simple photographs – were then examined for interesting tracks by specially trained personnel, the “scanners”. The bubble chamber programme at CERN started in 1959, when…

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  • Cutting-edge computing

    Cutting-edge computing

    CERN’s first computer, a huge vacuum-tube Ferranti Mercury, was installed in 1958. It represented the first stage in the evolution of digital computing at CERN. The next big step came in 1965, when the first supercomputer arrived: a CDC 6600 designed by computer pioneer Seymour Cray. This transistorised sub-microsecond machine was the first real “number…

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  • The nucleus as a laboratory

    The nucleus as a laboratory

    When the Isotope Separator On-Line (ISOLDE) began operations at the Synchrocyclotron (SC) in 1967, it was unique in the world. Like other laboratories, a proton beam from an accelerator was directed onto a target to create rare radioactive isotopes of various elements on the periodic table. But ISOLDE used an innovative technique to solve the…

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  • An electronic revolution

    An electronic revolution

    Georges Charpak received the 1992 Nobel Prize in Physics for his 1968 invention of the multi-wire proportional chamber, which revolutionised particle detection

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  • An extraordinary human endeavour

    An extraordinary human endeavour

    CERN is a pioneer in making science, technology and know-how freely available to the world. Knowledge sharing – one of the core values enshrined in CERN’s founding convention – underpins its mission to support open science. A brilliant example of this is the World Wide Web, invented at CERN for the benefit of society at large. At this event,…

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  • The heart of CERN’s accelerator chain

    The heart of CERN’s accelerator chain

    In 1957, CERN staff moved into the new buildings on the Meyrin site in Geneva, and the rooms were rapidly filled with equipment for the Proton Synchrotron (PS). By the end of July 1959, assembly of the PS – the accelerator is more than 600 metres in circumference! – was completed and, on 16 September,…

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