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CERN concludes year of strong progress towards the LHC

Geneva, 16 December 2005. Speaking at the 135th session of the CERN1 Council, the Organization's Director General, Robert Aymar hailed a year of impressive progress towards the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) project, scheduled to start-up in 2007. “In one year, we have made great progress,” he said. “The challenge is not over, of course, but we have great confidence of maintaining the schedule for start-up in 2007.”

The LHC is the flagship project for the world's particle physics community. Experiments at the LHC will allow physicists to complete a journey that started with Newton's description of gravity. Gravity acts on mass, but so far science is unable to explain why the fundamental particles have the masses they have. Experiments at the LHC may provide the answer. LHC experiments will also probe the mysterious missing mass and dark energy of the universe – visible matter seems to account for just 5% of what must exist. They will investigate the reason for nature's preference for matter over antimatter, and they will probe matter as it existed at the very beginning of time.

Dr Aymar's remarks come after a year during which the delay imposed by repairing defects in the system that will distribute cryogenic cooling fluids around the LHC has been largely recovered. The LHC's cryogenic system is now well advanced, and installation of the LHC's magnets is progressing rapidly. Almost 1000 of the 1232 dipole magnets have been delivered to CERN, and over 200 magnets are already installed in the LHC's underground tunnel. “It’s been an exceptional year,” said LHC project leader Lyn Evans, “there has been a lot of effort to recover from a difficult situation 12 months ago, and all key objectives for 2005 have been met.” Magnets are currently being installed at the rate of 20 per week, a rate that needs to increase to 25 per week in 2006 to maintain the LHC start-up schedule for 2007. A review of the schedule is planned for Spring 2006.

Dr Aymar also reminded the Council that 2005 is World Year of Physics, and drew attention to a number of events that CERN has organized through the year to bring the excitement of fundamental science to a young audience. These include a World Wide Webcast bringing together scientists and audiences from around the Globe for a 12-hour celebration of science on 1 December, and the Science on Stage conference for teachers, which brought over 400 high-school teachers to CERN for one week in November. He also informed delegates that CERN's new visitor and networking centre, the Globe of Science and Innovation, opened its doors to the public in September. The Globe will host a new permanent exhibition about CERN science, scheduled for inauguration in 2007 to coincide with LHC start-up.

1. CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, is the world's leading laboratory for particle physics. It has its headquarters in Geneva. At present, its Member States are Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. India, Israel, Japan, the Russian Federation, the United States of America, Turkey, the European Commission and UNESCO have Observer status.