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Find out more A little book about CERN

This is a place like nowhere else on Earth. As one of the world’s largest centres for scientific research, we’re using fundamental physics to try and answer some of the biggest questions in the Universe. Nowhere else will you get the chance to work on experiments of this magnitude. Nowhere else do the world’s most talented scientists and engineers rub shoulders. There’s nowhere like CERN.

The world’s biggest questions challenge all the things we know, and theories matter as much as facts. Complexities could turn out to be unfathomable. So we should never assume there are answers.

Nothing makes sense without the

By conducting t e world’s biggest experiments we’re working to answer t e most difficult questions facing mankind today. Like w ether t e Higgs particle really exists. T eory goes t at after t e Big Bang a field was formed, and any particles interacting with t at field are given t eir mass via t e ‘H’ particle. T is t eory fits with everyt ing we know about t e world. But somet ing’s missing: nobody has ever actually observed the ‘H’. Conducting experiments in our Large Hadron Collider, we’re on a mission to find it. If we don’t, it will mean rewriting the laws of p ysics.

There’s a lot going on underground.

• The Large Hadron Collider is built underground which minimises its impact on the landscape. • When the tunnel was excavated between Lake Geneva and the Jura mountain range, it was done with such precision that the two ends met up to within 1cm. • The LHC is 26.7km in circumference. • Protons travelling at full energy reach almost the speed of light – each one racing around the ring more than 11,000 times a second. • The machine is so large that it runs under both Switzerland and France.

– Absolute Zero / –273.15ºC / 0 Kelvin (The coldest theoretically possible temperature) – The Boomerang Nebula / –272.15ºC / 1 Kelvin (The coldest known natural location in the universe) – The Large Hadron Collider / –271.3ºC / 1.9 Kelvin

– Triton / −235°C / 38.15 Kelvin (The surface temperature of the moon of Neptune)

– Antarctica / –89.2ºC / 183.95 Kelvin (The lowest temperature naturally recorded on Earth)

– Home Freezer / −18°C / 255.15 Kelvin

Temperature Our Large Hadron Collider needs to be kept at temperatures as low as 1.9 Kelvin – that’s even colder than outer space. If not, our experiments will fail.

100,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000°C (‘Planck temperature’) / The Big Bang – (Estimated temperature of the Universe just after the Big Bang)

10,000,000,000,000,000°C / LHC Collisions – (Temperature of LHC Collisions)

5,505°C (9,941°F) / The Sun – (Approximate surface temperature)

427°C (801°F) / Mercury – (The surface temperature of the planet closest to the sun) 250°C (482°F) / Matchstick – (The approximate temperature when a match ignites) 57.8°C (136 °F) / Al 'Aziziyah, Libya – (The highest recorded temperature on Earth)

matters. When two beams of protons collide they generate temperatures more than a billion times hotter than the centre of the sun.

Just lining up the beams in the LHC is a massive challenge. In fact, it’s equivalent to firing needles from opposite sides of the Atlantic with such precision that they meet half way.

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Three words that changed the world.

Where Would We be? In 1989 scientist Tim Berners-Lee was part of the computer team at CERN. He wanted to find a way for scientists across the world to share information – instantly. His solution was the World Wide Web. After putting his proposal together, he showed it to his supervisor who wrote just three words in response – “Vague, but exciting”. With these words, the green light was given to the project.

Imagination. The most important thing you need to work here. This is a world-class operation in every sense. Which means we need the very best people in all areas, from law and finance to technology and administration. People come to us from different backgrounds and from all corners of the globe. From different professions and for different reasons. We are all working together in this exciting quest for knowledge. One thing unites us: we all have the imagination to think at a much higher level.

There are answers. So we should never assume complexities could turn out to be unfathomable. Facts matter as much as theories, and all the things we know challenge the world’s biggest questions.

Like nowhere else on Earth. It’s hard to summarise life at CERN. The only way to do so is to say that this is a place like nowhere else on Earth. The setting is exceptional. Geneva has so much to offer. The quality of life is incredible. With its lake and the backdrop of Mont Blanc, this truly is a setting fit for the world’s most fascinating project.

Take part.

Image courtesy NASA/ESA – STScI (N. Pirzkal and the HUDF team)

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Find out more. A little book about CERN.

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