CERN International Relations Director Shares insights on the Revolutionary Research and Programs
In October 2017, Charlotte Lindberg Warakaulle, the International Relations Director of CERN, made a dazzling presentation to AIC members and guests on the wondrous scientific research and technological breakthroughs being developed at CERN, the world’s foremost particle physics lab. More than 40 people attended the event at Geneva’s Warwick Hotel.
Warakaulle opened her talk with a general introduction to CERN, before going into details on the cutting-edge research that has led to numerous findings, including the discovery, in July 2012, of the Higgs-boson particle (the so-called God particle) -- a fundamental constituent of the so-called standard model. She also spoke on CERN’S ongoing research into the origins of the universe in the Big Bang nearly 14 billion years ago.
Founded in Meyrin in 1954, CERN (the European Organization for Nuclear Research), has a current staff of more than 2,500 physicists, engineers, and IT professionals. It is at the forefront of particle physics research and is home to the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), the world’s largest and most powerful particle accelerator.
Situated 100 meters below the surface, the Large Hadron Collider is twenty-seven kilometers in circumference and straddles the Swiss-France border. It is the world’s largest scientific instrument. The LHC’s experiments in particle physics have led to many revolutionary discoveries since starting operation in March 2010. It has come to further symbolize CERN’s motto of “making the impossible…possible.”
Warakaulle also explained how CERN’s research initiatives had led to the transfer of knowledge to industry and society at large. Through its policy of non-military research meant to positively benefit humankind, research at CERN had led to breakthroughs in fields such as medical imaging (PET scanning technology), cryogenics, airport scanners, historical analyses, cargo screening, food sterilization, cancer research, nuclear waste management, data analysis, and the World Wide Web.
Everyone in attendance was interested to hear of CERN’S ongoing research as well as its efforts to contribute to various global political debates and agendas. Among the imperatives Warakaulle cited were:
Expanding the number of associate and full members (it has currently has 22 international members (with the US, Russia, and Japan having Observer status)
the CERN’s status as a key player and consult on international agreements and treaties in the realm of nuclear proliferation and civilian applications of nuclear power and climate change, and other global initiatives
Expanding the educational focus to make science – especially physics and other STEM subjects – a more attractive field of study and curiosity, including by training more high-school teachers to inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers.
Warakaulle’s discussion was followed by a brief Q & A which saw AIC member and resident physicist Dr. Sorina Popescu answering questions of a more theoretical nature from attendees.
Where did we come from? Where are we going? Why do the stars shine bright at night? How old is the universe? These are just a few of the questions asked every day at the CERN. The answers keep coming…