THE EUROPEAN Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) is an international organization which has been conducting research in the important domain of High Energy Physics since its inception in 1954. It is the leading organization in the scientific world, operating and developing one of the most sophisticated machines, which require inputs from many areas of science, engineering and technology.
CERN has been operating the worlds largest Particle physics laboratory. The main objective of the CERN is to provide a platform where Physicists and Engineers from all over the world to unfold the mystery of creation of universe. CERN is a dreamland for curious scientists where wonderful scientific and technological events are taking place.
CERN possesses a large cluster of accelerators such as RF Linear Accelerator (LINAC), Proton Synchrotron (PS), Super Proton Synchrotron (SPS), Large Hadron Collider (LHC). In the past, Large Electron Positron (LEP) collider was successfully operated by CERN that completed its operations in 2000. For future, CERN is developing the technology for the Compact Linear Collider (CLIC). The operation of these huge machines are very complex and many technologies have achieved marvelous level of sophistication. The LHC is the worlds largest and highest energy accelerator. It lies in a tunnel 27 kilometers (17 miles) in circumference, as deep as, 100 meters beneath the Swiss-France border near Geneva. In the LHC machine, two proton beams are accelerated in opposite direction to extremely high energies approaching to speed of light and then made to collide with each other.
The collision generates enormous temperatures and energy densities, never achieved before on earth. These temperatures and energy densities are comparable with the conditions that existed just after (one trillionth of a second) the creation of this universe i.e. the Big Bang. Antihydrogen atoms were first created in 1995 but before one can study them they were annihilated after coming in contact with matter. This was only in 2010 that first cold antihydrogen atom was created in ALPHA experiment at CERN.
Basically, four fundamental forces are maintaining the balance of this universe i.e. the electro-magnetic force, the strong force keeping proton and neutron together in the nucleus of an atom, the weak force responsible for the decay of subatomic particles and the gravitational force between the various planets and stars in the universe. Theorists are conducting research to find out a proper theory that can unite all the fundamental forces. Experimentalists at CERN are trying to build machines that can achieve higher energies so that these theories can be tested.
Dr. Abdus Salam, along with other scientists, presented the elector-weak unification theory by combining the weak and electromagnet forces. The experiments performed at CERN confirmed this theory resulting in the 1979 Nobel Prize in Physics to Dr. Abdus Salam and others. According to the standard model, the mass of all the particles in the universe is due to the Higgs Boson. The particle is considered so important that the most expensive and complex experimental facilities to date, the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), was built at CERN to detect the Higgs Boson. Evidences about the Higgs Boson have been collected during the recent LHC experiment. In July 2012 scientists at CERN announced the discovery of the Higgs Boson only missing particle in the standard model.
The offshoots of the basic scientific research at CERN are the tremendous technological advantages which have changed our way of living such as development of World Wide Web (WWW) in 1989.
CERN is a scientific paradise for intuitive minds and one of the largest efforts are undergoing for solving many unresolved mysteries of science. Have we finally discovered the Higgs Boson? What about the unification of all the forces and all matter including the Einsteins gravity? What about the extra spatial dimensions predicted by the single unification theory called the String Theory? What really happened at the time of the Big Bang? Scientists are very confident that LHC will be able to answer many questions arising in the mind of human being about Big Bang, Higgs particle, the super symmetry, the extra dimensions, the dark matter, etc. On the basis of experiments being carried out at LHC it can be said that it will open new vistas to understand the reality.
Hafeez Hoorani, who is currently professor of physics at the National Centre for Physics, Quaid-i-Azam University in Islamabad, where he heads a group building the muon chamber for the CMS detector, first came to CERN in 1989 to work on the LEP project.
“I came to CERN in 1989 when there was much excitement as LEP was turned on. It was a very different experience for me than the previous years I had spent in North America, a very homogeneous region where everyone speaks English. CERN on the other hand is a multicultural and multinational organization. It is easy and simple to cooperate with Europe, which is very open and willing to accept people from different backgrounds and cultures. And this spirit of Europe, its acceptance, has come to CERN.
CERN is a unique experience, where many people contribute. It is rather like trying to cook dinner, where one person brings bread, the other butter, the third lentils, etc. At CERN, people also bring different things, they discuss and fight, but in the end they make a detector that works. This is very fascinating because I have never experienced it before. The final goal is purely intellectually oriented, basic physics – very beautiful.
Pakistan already has an early connection to CERN through the late Abdus Salam, the sole Nobel laureate from Pakistan in science and one of the fathers of the electroweak theory. CERN has been known to the scientific community of Pakistan since 1973 through the discovery of neutral currents which eventually led to the Nobel Prize for Salam. We are contributing much more now because of the students who worked with Salam, who know his theories and CERN, and who are now placed at highly influential positions within the government of Pakistan. They have helped and pushed Pakistan towards a very meaningful scientific collaboration with CERN.
Former chairman Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC) and Advisor to Prime Minister for Development Dr. Ishfaq Ahmad has recently told the media that PAEC, on behalf of Government of Pakistan, signed a cooperation agreement with CERN in 1994 concerning the development of scientific and technical cooperation in the research projects of CERN, which led to the construction of several high technology components for LHC and its detectors.
CERN Physicists using the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) on Wednesday announced detection of signatures of a mass, which is 125 times higher than the proton mass (nucleus of hydrogen atom). The scientists and engineers from Pakistan particularly from Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC) and National Centre for Physics (NCP) have played role in developing the Large Hadron Collider (LHC).
According to him, Physics has played very important role in our lives and this invention would help us to understand the creating of this world. CERN physicists using the LHC detected signatures of a mass, which is 125 times higher than the proton mass (nucleus of hydrogen atom). It is believed that these signatures correspond to the elusive particle called the Higgs Boson. While additional confirmation is still in progress, this is regarded as the major discovery that the scientists had been expecting for more than two decades.
Dr Abdus Salam had a dream to create an international platform for scientists from the developing world to be at par, technologically, with their peers in the developed world.
This wish was partially fulfilled during his lifetime when in 1964, the International Centre for Theoretical Physics (ICTP) opened in Trieste, Italy, through hectic efforts. The centre, now called the Abdus Salam ICTP, continues to support scientists from developing countries.
Another effort to promote research in physics, along the lines envisioned by Salam, began in Islamabad in 2000 and has gradually picked up during the past five years.
On the eastern end of the Quaid-e-Azam University campus is the National Centre for Physics (NCP) – an autonomous but government-funded body – that conducts research in theoretical physics and allied disciplines.
The centre provides its facilities to local researchers and also collaborates with international organisations to bring scientific knowledge and skills to Pakistan.
CERN Director General Rolf Heuer in his statement has said: “We have reached a milestone in our understanding of nature. The discovery of a particle consistent with the Higgs Boson opens the way to more detailed studies, requiring larger statistics, which will pin down the new particles properties, and is likely to shed light on other mysteries of our universe.”
He said that positive identification of the new particles characteristics will take considerable time and data. “But whatever form the Higgs particle takes, our knowledge of the fundamental structure of matter is about to take a major step forward,” he added.
NCP Director General Hamid Saleem said their aim is to become a centre that produces high quality research that promotes the spread of expertise by collaborating with Pakistani universities.
Saleem stated that “we dont strive for excellence in research,” adding that “the centres emphasis is on developing strong research departments that can produce excellent scientists”.
The centre has three main research departments that deal with theoretical physics, nano-sciences and laser plasma physics. Affiliated departments are conducting research work in the fields of vacuum science, earthquake studies and experimental physics.
The past few years have been fruitful for the centre, Saleem said. The number of research papers, including in-house research and collaborative work, published in international journals has jumped to 192 in 2012 from only 12 in 2007 – a 1,500 per cent increase in six years, he informed.
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