September 9, 2008 / 12:33 PM / 9 years ago

TIMELINE-Major events for CERN and particle physics

(Reuters) - The European Organisation for Nuclear Research, known as CERN, is the world’s largest particle physics laboratory. Its scientists are preparing to start a small-scale re-enactment of the “Big Bang” that created the universe.

Following is a brief history of CERN and its advances in particle physics:

1954 - CERN was founded as one of Europe’s first joint ventures, partly as a way to share the rising costs of running nuclear physics facilities. Its 12 founding members were Belgium, Britain, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland and Yugoslavia.

1957 - The Synchrocyclotron, CERN’s first accelerator, was built to provide beams for particle and nuclear physics experiments. It was later used in nuclear physics, astrophysics and medical physics, with the later developed Proton Synchotron dedicated to particle physics. That machine accelerated protons for the first time in November 1959.

1968 - CERN scientist Georges Charpak develops a gas-filled box known as a “multiwire proportional chamber” that counted particles one thousand times better than previous detectors.

1971 - The Intersecting Storage Rings, the world’s first proton-proton collider, produced the first-ever proton-proton collisions, a precursor to CERN’s colliding-beam projects.

1973 - CERN announces an experiment in its Gargamelle bubble chamber shows the existence of neutral currents, a major advance in understanding the particles of matter and how they interact.

1976 - The Super Proton Synchrotron, with a circumference of 7 km (4.4 miles) is built, providing beams to large experimental areas of CERN. Scientists using those beams in 1983 discover the two charged particles, called W, and their neutral counterpart Z. The Super Proton Synchrotron is now the last link in the chain providing beams for the Large Hadron Collider.

1989 - The Large Electron-Positron collider is the largest electron-positron accelerator ever built with a circumference of 27 km (16.8 miles). The excavation of the tunnel to house it was Europe’s largest civil engineering project before the Channel Tunnel. Its experiments proved there are three generations of particles of matter. It was closed in 2000 to allow for the construction of the Large Hadron Collider in the same tunnel.

1990 - CERN scientist Tim Berners-Lee invents the worldwide web to meet demands for information-sharing between scientists. Berners-Lee defined basic concepts like the URL, http and html and also wrote the first browser and server software.

1994 - CERN approves construction of the Large Hadron Collider, the world’s largest particle accelerator with an eventual project cost of 10 billion Swiss francs ($9 billion). At full power, trillions of protons can race around its ring at 11,245 times a second -- some 99.99 percent the speed of light.

1995 - Team at CERN’s Lbow Energy Antiproton Ring facility create atoms of anti-hydrogen in the first time that anti-matter particles were brought together to make complete atoms, helping explain the universe’s asymmetry between matter and anti-matter.

2002 - Two CERN experiments create and trap thousands of atoms of anti-matter in a “cold” state, meaning the atoms are slow-moving and can exist for long enough to be studied before they meet ordinary matter and annihilate.

2008 - The Large Hadron Collider starts up. Its experiments are expected to address questions such as what gives matter its mass, why nature prefers matter to anti-matter, and how matter evolved from the first instants of the universe’s existence.

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