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CERN | Geneva | Switzerland

View Blog | Read Bio

What’s in a name?

Twitter has been good to CERN, but there’s a limit to how much particle physics you can convey in 140 characters. We’ve struggled to explain luminosity in such a small nutshell, and to convey the excitement of jet quenching in a line. That’s partly why we’ve decided to launch a CERN blog today on the Quantum Diaries platform. There’ll be several contributors as time goes on, including our Director General Rolf Heuer, but as head of CERN’s communication group, I have the honour to be the first to post. I’ll be using this blog to expand on news about CERN that you might find in our press releases, our internal newsletter – The Bulletin – and anywhere else that particle physics appears.

Since this is CERN’s first post, it’s probably worthwhile saying what CERN is – and what CERN isn’t. The best place to start is our Convention, a document remarkable for its foresight and optimism that emerged from the ashes of the Second World War. The story begins in 1949 when the French Nobel Prize winner Louis de Broglie first suggested that Europe could pool its resources, using the universal language of science to create a centre of excellence for basic research in physics and a place where the countries of Europe could work together to peaceable ends. In 1952, the Conseil Européen pour la Recherche Nucleaire, CERN, was founded with the single objective of establishing such a place. Two years later, CERN had done its job and gave way to the European Organization for Nuclear Research, but by then the acronym had stuck. Why nuclear? Because in the 1950s, the nucleus was the limit of our understanding of nature at the smallest scales. CERN’s research has always concentrated on curiosity-driven research, which in the 1950s meant trying to understand the structure and behaviour of nuclei. Applied research is very rare here, and military research is absolutely forbidden by the Convention.

Today, we do very little nuclear research and our main field of endeavour is particle physics: studying the tiniest constituents of nature in a bid to understand some of the biggest questions around, like how the universe evolved, what gives particles mass, and what the unseen 95% of the universe is made of. We still do some nuclear physics: although the nucleus is much better understood than it was in the 1950s, there are still things to be learned about the behaviour of nuclei. Nuclear physics experiments at CERN also address subjects as varied as finding new isotopes for medical use and understanding what happens in supernovae.

Today, you’re just as likely to see CERN referred to as the European Laboratory for Particle Physics. That’s a better description of what we do these days, and it’s much in keeping with the spirit of the Convention, which mandates CERN to coordinate fundamental research in Europe through the operation of one or more laboratories. The way things have turned out, there’s just one CERN laboratory, the European Laboratory for Particle Physics, and CERN Council is its governing body.

Welcome to our blog, and look out for posts on luminosity and jet quenching before too long!

–James Gillies


34 Responses to “What’s in a name?”

  1. Don’t know why CERN particle physists strongly believe that 7-14TeV collisions will one day disentangle the secrets or tiniest constituents of matter ?!!
    Their theories predict that at such ultra high collision, pressure waves of the momentum flux from such energy density must breakdown particles to their tiniest constituents and bring a reverse creation of the BIG BANG down to its knees !!!???
    such conceptualization is not flawless! Temp, momentum, and pressure waves from speed of light collisions will create new particles and subparticles rather than compose the constituents.. experiments will show particles are fluidic and form an infinite continuum within themselves. In atoms particles are fluidic and conjointed all in a single continuum with major mass density and charge differences. Atoms are particles and particles are formed on exit and diffused on entry.

  2. Heather says:

    Woo! Excited!

  3. naka says:

    Yay a new CERN blog. :) I’ll be looking out for the posts on luminosity for sure.

  4. Mo says:

    Trust me, one day I’ll be writing for this blog.

  5. QED says:

    Anyone who thinks CERN’s missions are pointless should read “The Pleasure of Finding Things Out” by Feynman. Additionally, the photoelectric effect and Compton Scattering demonstrated that photons in high energy behave as particles and low energy particles behave as waves. Quark-gluon plasma is achieved by ultra high temperatures – all made possible by CERN. If they can generate a precise idea of the conditions and state of the universe at Planck, they can only progress from there.

  6. Chad says:

    Congrats! You-all rock, and I love the fact that you moved from Twitter to blogging…way to go! Please keep tweeting important updates & CERN BUZZ.

    I sincerely value the work that you-all do; thanks for lighting the way for all of humanity.

    An Ecologist in Olympia

  7. Brad_Norwood says:

    And, perhaps, someday, we shall read European Laboratory for String Research.

    Discovering the beginning will be soooo exciting.

  8. Moshi says:

    Fantastic to see one of our worlds most technically advanced entities joining modern communication

  9. QED says:

    Honestly, there are some things about string theory I don’t like. I do think LQG is the “better” theory, but sadly, it’s not the popular one.

  10. Entender el Universo says:

    Thank you James, I’m sure it is going to be fascinating to follow this blog. Since I was a child I am a fan of physics and CERN (maybe because my grandfather was a nuclear physicist and CERN collaborator), so to follow all your news or to see online the LHC inauguration is fantastic.

    Thank you very much.

  11. Eddy says:

    Great job! I am so happy you guys exist! Its awesome!

  12. And I hope CERN will someday contribute in reformulation of QFT in terms of free quasi-particles withing permanently coupled systems contrary to the current crazy approach of “free, elementary but interacting” particles.

  13. Sarah says:

    @alameddine: too late for any doubts, “professor.” First of all, learn some grammar before you pretend to be any sort of intellectual. Secondly, they’ve already created a mini big-bang. Two months ago. Too bad you missed it: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-11711228 … admittedly, CERN is somewhat disconcerting, especially with any doubts regarding strangelets – even if they break down instantaniously, what percentage of an instant is needed to replicate itself? Hopefully these questions and more will be answered – without negative consequences – by CERN. Thank you, friendly European scientists! We in the US are cheering you on!

  14. GETNET. says:

    I hope one day CERN will be the center of all theoretical & Practical physics
    And unlocking the extraordinary identity of human beings
    We are welcome all stretched achievement of CERN
    Even if we are living underdeveloped country CERN will give us the Cuting end science to reach the ultera ultimate being
    I am Computer Engineer but I hope one day I will program, the String. And sub particle Particle
    I will apply my programming Ability in the Quantum world.
    This is Engineer GETNET ASEFFA from Ethiopian, Addis Ababa

  15. mp says:

    for prof & engineering scientist alameddine:
    7-14 collision will give us access to the energy scale at which the particles we know get a mass. The current explanation of this (the existence of a Higgs boson) and what we know about the Higgs boson (its mass should indeed be at this scale of energy, between 100 and a few hundreds time the proton mass) implies some tension with the possibility that the Standard Model of particle physics is a complete theory valid up to the so-called Plank scale, when gravity kicks in the game. Notice that we have Einstein@work here: I am doing mass energy constantly.
    The Plank scale is very very far from what we can reach with the LHC. Still, we expect something to show up at the LHC for the tension I referred to. It’s like space exploration. The stars we see on the sky are very far, but this did not prevent us from getting to the moon.

    Understanding the secrets of the fundamental particles is something we are doing since 100 years. We still miss an explanation of the mechanism that give them a mass. This is connected to processes happening at the scale of energy the LHC will explore. This does not have anything to do with the Big Bang (don’t take what you read on the newspapers as the truth). The choice of the scale is not a guess. The heaviest particle we know about (the top quark) weights ~180 times the proton mass. Notice that if we are wrong and the Higgs is not seen at the LHC we will have the biggest discovery of the last 30 years, since we will disproof one of the most solid and tested theories we have in science.

    Going back to your point:
    If new particles exist, LHC collisions might create new fundamental particles (what you call constituents) and this would be very cool, opening the possibility to existence of new forces in the Universe and/or new dimensions in space. We are not talking about new bound states of the constituents we know, but really new fundamental particles.
    This happened already in the past, when the discovery of the heavy “copies” of the electrons and the quarks that made us completed the Standard Model of particle physics.

    What Sarah calls “the mini Big Bang” is quite far from being the Big Bang. Still, it is true that by colliding heavy ions we can create the state of matter (quark-gluon plasma) that was created in the first stages of the Universe. Notice that this kind of collision is different than the proton-proton collisions we do when we try to study the fundamental constituents you refer to. So be careful not to mix the two

    I hope this help to clarify. I hope it was not too technical.


  16. fluidic says:

    dear Maurizio
    It is OK 4 sarah 2 think that i missed what was then called “mini BB” created by heavy lead ions. although was v exciting 2 observe, i believe is not related 2 mass carriers, force carriers, charge carriers, etc… fluidity dominated earliest creation, and new state of discovered by CERN scientists in 2000 “quark-gluon plasma” confirms my fluidity and continuum of all particles and all matter, but with ultra-variations amongst its densities. It is fluid density variations which makes, breaks, ports, and thus naturally carries mass, charge, and force within matter, particles, etc.
    CERN LHC will certainly unmask Einstein’s concern on hidden variables. There are no discrete partcles in mother atoms or ions. Electrons, protons, nucleons were never detected or seen by most powerful tunnelling microscopes inside mother atoms. but are seen, used, collided, detected every second of our lives once existing conditions force their formation and escape under fields, forces, and other surrounding factors. “quark-gluon plasma” state observed at very high energy densities is not a meltdown phase at the micro-matter level at ultra-high temps. In such state, partcles and matter are in “Expanded Fluid State” EFS vs. normal “contracted fluid state” CFS.
    Tired! More on these later…

  17. Jean says:

    I have lot of admiration towards CERN and its noble cause. However, I still don’t understand why people are digging so deep when the answers are given.

    In the 19th and 20th century, lived the greatest scientist ever , Nikola Tesla. We owe to him so much. It’s worth to say that he invented the 20th and 21st century. He made the electrification of the cities possible, and eventually made it efficient. He was an admirer of the eastern philosophies, and he used two particular terms to explain the universe.

    95% of the unseen world the CERN is looking for is, nothing, but AKASHA (or Aether). PRANA is the visible aether (or excited aether) like electricity. Akasha is the omnipresent material of the universe, prana is the omnipresent power of the universe.

    And think about it, the same people who invented those Sanskrit terms , created astronomical tables, some thousands of years ago, that don’t differ much from the actual tables we obtained from high precision tools like Hubble telescope and others. Carl Sagan, acknowledged it, those ancient people, specifically, those Hindus, were very advanced. When Newton and Leibnitz discovered integration and derivation, it was already been used by Hindu astronomers and mathematicians for centuries before the discovery in Europe.The first reference to the sinus function (that we scientist use so much) is in their Surya Siddhanta which is an important treatise on astronomy.

    Their cosmogony is simply awesome when you understand it. It gives answer to questions Big Bang theory doesn’t. Like, the later doesn’t tell us what was before the Big Bang, but their cosmogony does. It tells us that universe is created and destroyed, eternally, and cyclically, which is PERFECTLY coherent with the second law of thermodynamics (conservation of energy).

    The truth is there, but you need to know what you are really looking for. Don’t be biased. The ancient rishis knew it all.

    Hope it helps CERN, and the whole humanity to discover truth and rediscover our past.

    The final aim of Physics and Science should be to unlock the door to “FREE ENERGY”. Create a machinery to capture the potential and infinite energy from the Akasha.

    It was Nikola Tesla’s main aim too, unfortunately, his project (Wardenclyffe) was stopped by the greedy, inhumane, and selfish %^%^&&^% capitalist JP Morgan.

    Cheers! Good luck CERN.

  18. Lars says:

    How small a subatomic particle needs to be shrunk or divided into –through accelerated bombarding to let us accept that there is not such a particle? That it is futile to search further. That it’d be smarter to learn the process or pattern through which matter seems to have no beginning nor end. We’d better listen to Nassim Haramein’s wise blackhole theory instead.
    Let there be light. Love is the only source, the Aleph and Omega.
    Open your mind.

  19. Mikee Aus says:

    I love CERN.
    Show me some new PHYSICS, A gravity particle, or higgs will be fine.
    Even better something we didn’t expect. I couldn’t think of a more rewarding experiment for the world to take on.

  20. dequantizer says:

    LHC runs to uncover continuity of matter. Plasma, hadrons, bosons, fermions, gluons, quarks… are examples of collisional instances whose lifespan is very small. These are looked at as Magnetofluidodynamics (MFD) instant intrinsic quantizations and particularizations of matter. Matter rest state has concomitant variations in its density; a fundamental property that gives rise to density variations from max dense (inner geometric nuclear center -least fluidity / plasma) to min dense (outer geometric electronic regions). In this state of “fundamental continuum / plasma”, if matter is subjected to surrounding field perturbations (stress, strain, frictional, temperature, momentum…) matter discretizes switching partially from the “dequantized” state (“fundamental continuum”) to “quantized” state (“fundamental particles”) which is detectable and viewable. This partial quantization is a transition state occurring at relativistic speeds allowing spontaneous formation, motion, visualization and detection of subatomic particles. In the absence of perturbative fields, subatomic structures feature “Particlessness“, and matter relativistically reverses to its unique “fundamental continuum” and ultra-high density variations state. That is, when subjected to perturbating potential, magnetic, electric, temperature, collision fields, subatomic matter instantaneously particularizes, quantizes, becoming ready for ejection or escape from each other in the form of chunks (quantized). Subsequently, perturbing matter causes matter to switch between its dually-natured states: particle and non-particle states. Interestingly, old De Broglie, Schrödinger, Dirac, and Bohr’s wave-particle duality conceptualization, while different, nevertheless, is along those lines of matter’s dual-nature, which collisional data began to unveil under LHC’s world’s largest energy density collisions. Absence of any perturbations, redeem atomic and nuclear matters to their saddling “dequantization” (“fluid continuum”) state – featuring no particles.

  21. Martin Moller says:


    This is what I have been waiting for. To partake the thoughts of the most brilliant minds in the particel physics world.
    This is a good day!

  22. Ben Dover says:

    mc2 = e you have been warned monkeys. :)

  23. henry says:

    Jean – wasn’t the aether (presuming you mean the same sort that was widely accepted existed before the end 19th Cent) quite categorically disproved as a physical (but more importantly interacting) substance?

    Or do you mean some kind of intangible noninteracting aether that we cannot see… because that sounds a lot more like religion!

  24. Sarai says:

    @James: I think you can see how excited people all around the world are to read this, and I want to say thank you too! I’m really looking forward to reading – although I have to get through reading all these comments first… sheesh.

    Here’s to 2011 – The year of the Quantum Diaries!!

  25. David says:

    I’d like to know if any actual information on the BLACK HOLE you claim to have created is going to be released? Or is it some kind of top secret stuff only governments, and the slaves they own are let in on?


  26. fluidic says:

    every time i write on 3D-helical motion trajectory of light and electromagnetic radiation and its 2D orthogonal projection which is exactly a perfect wave function, it is always dropped out of quantumdiaries response system ? Is it because 3D helical motion of electromagnetic emissions etc… is unobsevable by the naked-eye ??!
    Any clues ???

  27. dequantizer says:

    Origin of 3D-helical motion of electromagnetic radiation is particle spin that spirals out of matter with constant offset between successive rounds to form helical motion trajectory whose 2D-projection is a perfect sine wave function which we already know.

  28. icenian says:

    Quark inversion principle generates an area of origin: All origins connected: All protons and neutrons connected via the origin: Luminosity is a super amount of photonic energy: Photon whence enters proton/neutron shell yields up velocity (part of ) to Mass: (Photon Mass) the string soup is PM: Bashing particles together only yields collapsing energy: Wave interior to particle exterior: Quarks fight for singularity: Quantum flux is tight: Binding quarks to confine the origin: GRAVITY: Poincare: Each point of quark surface vies for origin field: Quark is REAL MATTER FIRST MATTER CONSTITUENTS DISTORTING SPACE/CREATING TIME:WHEN quarks are parted strings align/then collapse inwards into the origin allowing information to travel through time/space until information reaches another origin:(could recharge neutrons/could excite protons: Believe in PHOTON MASS. What else can a photon do when inside the shell?. If information is redistributed anywhere in the universe via this process: Then all information remains within the universe: Therefore there exists no other dimensions or universes: There only is one: Information is travelling backward and forward through time via the closed/open origin as light/Faster than C2: Collapsing as PM within the origin: Leaking into the shell (pro/nue)

  29. Hakan ÜÇOK says:

    I am curious and wonder, anyway, why it has to be “things” like: “collision” and “explosion” to create a universe. Arent there other options/choices/alternatives; WHY persistantly BIG BANG ?

  30. fluidic says:

    very wise! Tiny BIG BANG or SUPER BIG BANG is taking particle physicss 2 fluidity and plasma pysics and the proof of matter’s continuoty nature and inexactness as quarks aa the fundamental particles. Hope it want take long 2 find this breakthru available 2 every ambitious particle physicist and scientist.
    Good luck and lets go forward CERN

  31. S.E. says:

    This is wonderful, you’ve really made a difference in the world of Particle Physics.
    I’ve adored theoretical and particle physics for years and now (being in high school) I’m getting closer to my goal of practising these sciences.
    I’ll be joining you guys at the CERN soon, striving to make the world a better place :)

  32. icenian says:

    If you check out what i have stated above then it would suggest that there never was a BIG BANG: the universe has always existed: Its just a question of the redistribution of information (matter) Q inversion principle doe’s not even need a collider. The origin will redistribute information via Q collapse: Hence when a proton collapses in one part of the universe a nuetron in another part of the universe becomes a proton.

  33. I am not a scientist, and don’t exactly know what luminosity is, but I just love to follow what you are doing at CERN, and the conversations you have about particle physics. I know you write for fellow scientists, but I really appreciate how you make this information accessible to non-scientists like myself.Keep up the good work, and loved the blog.

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