Tomography machine test
(Image: CERN)

Bringing nations together through science

Over the years, CERN has always been open to the scientific communities of all nations, overcoming political barriers. CERN scientists worked with their Soviet and US counterparts throughout the cold war. It is no accident that many Eastern European countries joined CERN soon after the fall of the Berlin wall. And today, scientists from all regions of the world rub shoulders at the Laboratory.

CERN was the prototype for scientific collaboration in Europe, and has given rise to organizations with remits ranging from astronomy to biology. The latest organization to follow in CERN’s footsteps is SESAME, a laboratory for the Middle East in Jordan. That Israel and the Palestinian Authority should be among the founder members of SESAME may seem surprising, but perhaps no more so than the countries of Europe coming together in the wake of the Second World War to found CERN.

Training tomorrow’s scientists and engineers

The founding Convention recognized the important role that CERN could play in training Europe’s scientists and engineers. The Laboratory offers a unique environment for training – a rich and stimulating melting pot of people and ideas giving its young people an exceptional opportunity to hone their communication and analytical skills.

As a large accelerator laboratory, CERN relies on expertise in many engineering subjects, all of which feature in the recruitment and training programmes. There are opportunities for students in applied physics, engineering and computing to learn on the job at CERN and for technicians to train in fields at the cutting edge of technology. The comprehensive range of training schemes and fellowships attracts many talented young scientists and engineers to the Laboratory.

Many go on to find careers in industry, where their experience of working in a high-tech, multi-national environment is highly valued. CERN’s education and outreach programmes cover all ages of students and schoolchildren. Of the 90 000 visitors who come to CERN each year, the majority are high-school pupils. The Laboratory also runs a residential programme for high-school teachers and a summer programme for undergraduate students. For people further on in their careers, CERN organizes highly-regarded schools in particle physics, computing and accelerators.

Advancing the frontiers of technology

A myriad of engineers, technicians and scientists develop novel technology and expertise that can be applied to fields other than high-energy physics. This is made possible by the CERN community, which develops the expertise and shares it with society. CERN also collaborates with industry – including large companies, SMEs or recent start-ups – and engages with other stakeholders, such as policy makers, especially those acting in CERN’s Member States.

What is our knowledge-transfer mission?

The scientific advancements of CERN push the frontiers of technology, which has a positive impact on society globally. Although the core mission of the Laboratory is fundamental research in particle physics, it also has a remit to train the next generation of scientists and to bring nations together. The transfer of CERN technologies and expertise to society is an integral part of these activities, providing novel solutions in many fields.

Knowledge transfer fields
How CERN's various areas of expertise translate into impact across industries beyond CERN (Image: CERN)
Places like CERN contribute to the kind of knowledge that not only enriches humanity, but also provides the wellspring of ideas that become the technologies of the future. — Fabiola Gianotti, Director-General of CERN
Pictures from the Clinic of Génolier
(Image: CERN)

The technologies and scientific advances at CERN have contributed to the medical field since the 1970s, when CERN scientists contributed to early studies on PET devices. Today, CERN’s unique expertise and technologies are being used in areas related to medical diagnostics and imaging, therapy as well as computing and simulations for health applications.

CERN is playing a critical and increasingly recognised role, scientifically and technologically, in aerospace. Both space missions and underground accelerator and detector infrastructures have to deal with extreme environments, posing stringent technological requirements that often overlap. By establishing partnerships and exploring synergies with a variety of players in the aerospace sector, CERN’s technologies, facilities and expertise are used in the flight and ground segments of many space missions.

CERN technologies and expertise are applied to a wide range of fields: