For CERN’s 60th anniversary, we present highlights of what the organization means for collaboration and for science.
CERN’s origins can be traced back to the late 1940s, when a divided Europe was emerging from the ashes of war. A small group of visionary scientists and public administrators, on both sides of the Atlantic, identified fundamental research as a potential vehicle to rebuild the continent and foster peace in a troubled region. It was from these ideas that CERN was born on 29 September 1954, with a dual mandate to provide excellent science, and to bring nations together. Twelve founding member states – Belgium, Denmark, France, the Federal Republic of Germany, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, the UK and Yugoslavia – signed the convention that officially entered into force 60 years ago.
As CERN’s facilities and research arena grew in size, so too did the extent of collaboration, with more countries becoming involved – in particular with the programme for the Large Electron–Positron (LEP) collider, and more recently with the construction of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) itself, as well as its experiments. Today, CERN has 21 member states, with one candidate for accession, one associate member in the pre-stage to membership and seven observer states and organizations. In addition, it has co-operation agreements with many non-member states.
This timeline illustrates a few key moments in this collaborative journey, from those early days to 2014, the 60th anniversary year.