60 more years of science for peace: carrying the message forward

We can safely say that we’ve been successful in delivering the message of science for peace this year, says CERN Director-General Rolf Heuer


At the end of 2013, we were just about to embark on a year of celebrations marking 60 years of science for peace at CERN. Our message was that science is an inescapable driver of peaceful relations among cultures and nations, a force for sustainability and a necessity in confronting the major challenges facing society today. Twelve months on, we can safely say that we’ve been successful in delivering that message. 

At 130 events in 25 countries, at UNESCO in Paris on 1 July, throughout our week of celebrations at CERN leading up to our 60thbirthday on 29 September, and at UN Headquarters in New York on 20 October, members of the CERN community have been tireless in promoting the essential role of science in society. However, the message remains as true as it was 12 months ago, and as we move into 2015, we must continue to take every opportunity we have to ensure that those who shape our futures fully appreciate the essential role that science must play.

To that end, the CERN & Society programme continued to take shape through 2014 with the establishment of the CERN & Society Foundation. This programme serves as a focal point for a range of activities for which we will need third-party funding to ensure that CERN expertise and technology can benefit society fully. CERN & Society initiatives range from student projects like the Beamline for Schools competition to the ambitious OpenMed concept to develop LEIR as a biomedical research facility.

If we are to have continued success in promoting science, the visibility of CERN in the public sphere is a vital asset, so it’s important that CERN has remained in the headlines throughout 2014. Our anniversary was, of course, a big story, but I was pleasantly surprised to see that physics stories from all our experiments continue to capture the public’s attention. It’s great that there’s such interest in our science, and we need to nurture that as our research programme gets going again after a long period of maintenance and upgrades.

In 2014, the LHC’s first long shutdown, LS1, reached a successful conclusion. Throughout the year, the accelerator restart has gone smoothly, with research getting under way on all of the facilities supplied by the warm accelerator chain, and excellent progress in preparing the LHC for beam next year. In November, protons were knocking on the LHC’s doors as beams were successfully steered down both transfer lines from the SPS. Just last week, one full sector was powered to the equivalent of 6.5 TeV running, and as we approach the end-of-year break, the whole machine is nearing its operating temperature of 1.9 K.

In 2014, the CERN family has continued to grow. In January, the Israeli flag was raised at CERN for the first time to mark Israel’s accession to Membership. Negotiations with many other countries are advancing steadily, and as the year draws to a close, I will be travelling to Pakistan to sign the agreement for Pakistani accession to Associate Membership.

We have achieved much in 2014, but we have not been alone, and my last message of the year gives me the opportunity to say thank you. Thank you to all those from other labs and institutes who have helped us achieve so much throughout LS1. Thank you to those who have helped us spread the message of science for peace and development, to the online community that helped make CERN the most effective international organisation on Twitter in 2014, according to one leading communication agency, and to the 100,000 enthusiastic visitors who passed through our doors this year. Most of all, however, I would like to thank you, the CERN community. I wish you all a peaceful end of year break, and look forward to seeing many of you at my New Year address to personnel on 8 January at 10 a.m. in the Main Auditorium.