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CERN computer servers set sail for Lebanon

Fri, 14/01/2022 - 17:41
CERN computer servers set sail for Lebanon

A year and a half after the explosion in the port of Beirut, Lebanon is still struggling to recover from a serious economic and social crisis that has paralysed this partner state of CERN, which has four universities affiliated to the CMS collaboration. International solidarity is more necessary than ever to shore up the country’s tradition of academic excellence and support its scientific community. In this context, developments such as the donation of CERN computing equipment offer a glimmer of hope amidst Lebanon’s setbacks.

The long-awaited fruition of this project, known as HPC4L, was marked on Friday 14 January at a meeting between Joachim Mnich (CERN Director for Research and Computing), Enrica Porcari (CERN Director for Information Technology), representatives of the Lebanese scientific community and of the foundations that have pledged financial support, and the Ambassador of Lebanon to the international organisations in Geneva. In 2016, the project, which was initiated by the CERN Adviser for the Middle East and North Africa Region, Martin Gastal, set out to boost Lebanon’s research capacity and secured the contribution of CERN, through the Organization’s Information Technology department, in the form of computer servers. The servers will make it possible to develop the computing capacity available to the Lebanese academic community in support of all kinds of research activities, including in high-energy physics. However, the servers could not be transported to Lebanon because of the crisis that was gripping the country, which reduced the funds available in the Lebanese institutes.

Thanks to a successful fundraising campaign, organised by the CMS collaboration and the Sharing Knowledge Foundation (SKF), the necessary funds have been raised to cover the cost of shipping the hardware, purchasing the equipment required to install it and training Lebanese technical staff at CERN. The international scientific community and the Lebanese diaspora, both of which proved particularly generous, helped make the fundraising campaign – and therefore the threatened project – a success, thereby illustrating their solidarity with Lebanon’s academic institutions and boosting the country’s research capacity. The commitment of the French embassy in Lebanon, which provides financial aid to participate in the training costs of the Lebanese personnel in charge of the operation and maintenance of the computer servers, has also facilitated the concrete implementation of the project.

Now that the funds have been raised, the servers will immediately set sail for Lebanon, where their new owners and users will be awaiting their arrival in the port of Beirut. CERN is sending 144 computing servers, containing a total of 3456 cores. In addition, CERN is supplying storage capacity by sending 24 disk servers that will provide over 1 petabyte. This equipment is donated from the CERN data centre, which forms the heart of the Worldwide LHC Computing Grid (WLCG). The WLCG is used to store and analyse data from the LHC experiments.

The equipment will then be installed in a dedicated computing centre that will be run by a public–private consortium whose technical staff will be trained at CERN by CMS experts once the installation of the servers, scheduled for March 2022, is complete. Once that final hurdle has been cleared, the universities will be able to start using the facility to develop their research and to participate in the WLCG, which includes 170 computing centres in 42 countries across the globe.

It has been a long and tortuous road since the project began, but a happy ending is now in sight, thanks to the perseverance of all those in Lebanon, Europe and around the world who have invested their time and resources to help consolidate scientific research in Lebanon.

Visit the dedicated website to find out more about the project and its partners (MoT/OGERO, AUB, LAU, USJ, LU, USEK, BAU, CNRS, Tamari Foundation, Eudoxia Foudation. 


Since 2012, CERN has regularly donated computing equipment that no longer meets its highly specific requirements on efficiency but is still more than adequate for less exacting environments. To date, a total of 2524 servers and 150 network switches have been donated by CERN to countries and international organisations, namely Algeria, Bulgaria, Ecuador, Egypt, Ghana, Mexico, Morocco, Lebanon, Nepal, Palestine, Pakistan, the Philippines, Senegal, Serbia, and the SESAME laboratory in Jordan. CERN strives to maximise its positive impact on society: these donations can play an important role in providing opportunities for researchers and students in their home countries, thus helping to avoid so-called ‘brain-drain’ scenarios.


thortala Fri, 01/14/2022 - 16:41 Byline Thomas Hortala Publication Date Fri, 01/14/2022 - 16:28

A crunching multiverse to solve two physics puzzles at once

Thu, 13/01/2022 - 15:53
A crunching multiverse to solve two physics puzzles at once

The discovery of the Higgs boson was a landmark in the history of physics. It explained something fundamental: how elementary particles that have mass get their masses. But it also marked something no less fundamental: the beginning of an era of measuring in detail the particle’s properties and finding out what they might reveal about the nature of the universe.

One such property is the particle’s mass, which at 125 GeV is surprisingly small. Many theories have been put forward to explain this small mass, but none has so far been confirmed with data. In a paper just published in Physical Review Letters, Raffaele Tito D’Agnolo of CEA and Daniele Teresi of CERN propose a new theory to explain both the lightness of the Higgs boson and another fundamental physics puzzle.

In broad brushes, the duo’s theory works like this. In its early moments, the universe is a collection of many universes each with a different value of the Higgs mass, and in some of these universes the Higgs boson is light. In this multiverse model, universes in which the Higgs boson is heavy collapse in a big crunch in a very short time, whereas universes in which the boson is light survive this collapse. Our present-day universe would be one of these surviving light-Higgs universes.

What’s more, the model, which includes two new particles in addition to the known particles predicted by the Standard Model, can also explain the puzzling symmetry properties of the strong force, which binds quarks together into protons and neutrons, and protons and neutrons into atomic nuclei.

Although the theory of the strong force, known as quantum chromodynamics, predicts a possible breakdown in strong interactions of a fundamental symmetry called CP symmetry, such a breakdown is not observed in experiments. One of the new particles in D’Agnolo and Teresi’s model can solve this so-called strong CP problem, making strong interactions CP symmetric. Moreover, the same new particle could also account for the dark matter that is thought to make up most of the matter in the universe.

The jury is of course out on whether the new model, or any of the many other models that have been proposed to explain the Higgs boson mass or the strong CP problem, will fly.

“Each model comes with perks and limitations,” says Teresi. “Our model stands out because it is simple, generic and it solves these two seemingly unrelated puzzles at once. And it predicts distinctive features in data from experiments that aim to search for dark matter or for an electric dipole moment in the neutron and other hadrons.”

Other recent theoretical proposals to explain the Higgs mass include the relaxion field model, a new phenomenon in quantum cosmology, and the selfish Higss model, to mention a few. Older, more traditional theories are based on a Higgs boson that would be a composite particle or on a new type of symmetry called supersymmetry. Only time and data will tell which – if any – of the models will succeed.

The surviving light-Higgs universes. (Image: D’Agnolo and Teresi)


abelchio Thu, 01/13/2022 - 14:53 Byline Ana Lopes Publication Date Thu, 01/13/2022 - 14:45

ATLAS gives new insight into the internal structure of the proton

Wed, 12/01/2022 - 18:17
ATLAS gives new insight into the internal structure of the proton

While the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is well known for smashing protons together, it is actually the quarks and gluons inside the protons – collectively known as partons – that are really interacting. Thus, in order to predict the rate of a process occurring in the LHC – such as the production of a Higgs boson or a yet-unknown particle – physicists have to understand how partons behave within the proton. This behaviour is described in Parton Distribution Functions (PDFs), which describe what fraction of a proton’s momentum is taken by its constituent quarks and gluons.

Knowledge of PDFs has traditionally come from lepton–proton colliders, such as HERA at DESY. These machines use point-like particles, such as electrons, to directly probe the partons within the proton. Their research revealed that, in addition to the well-known up and down quarks that are inside a proton, there is also a sea of other quark–antiquark pairs in the proton. This sea is theoretically made of all types of quarks, bound together by gluons. Now, studies of the LHC’s proton–proton collisions are providing a detailed look into PDFs, in particular the proton’s gluon and quark-type composition.

The ATLAS Collaboration has just released a new paper combining LHC and HERA data to determine PDFs. The result uses ATLAS data from several different Standard Model processes, including the production of W and Z bosons, pairs of top quarks and hadronic jets (collimated sprays of particles). The strange quark’s contribution to PDFs was expected to be lower than that of lighter quarks. The new paper confirms a previous ATLAS result, which found that the strange quark is not substantially suppressed at small proton momentum fractions and extends this result to show how suppression kicks in at higher momentum fractions.

Several experiments and theoretical groups around the world are working to understand PDFs, as variance in these results could impact high-energy searches for physics beyond the Standard Model.

Achieving high-accuracy PDFs is needed if physicists are to find evidence for new-physics processes – which is where the ATLAS analysis contributes most powerfully.  The ATLAS Collaboration is able to assess the correlations of the systematic uncertainties between their datasets and account for them – an ability put to great effect in their new PDF result. Such knowledge was not previously available outside ATLAS, making this result a new “vademecum” for global PDF groups.

Read the full article on the ATLAS website.

Additional links

cagrigor Wed, 01/12/2022 - 17:17 Byline ATLAS collaboration Publication Date Wed, 01/12/2022 - 17:10

Winners of 2019 EU Contest for Young Scientists visit CERN

Tue, 11/01/2022 - 16:18
Winners of 2019 EU Contest for Young Scientists visit CERN

In November 2021, CERN hosted the laureates of the 31st EU Contest for Young Scientists (EUCYS) – the biggest science fair for young students in the European Union – for a visit of its facilities and experiments. The contest, funded under Horizon 2020, aims to attract young people to a career in science and research.

The 2019 winners, a team of three Polish students based in the Netherlands, designed a drone that could return from the lower layers of the stratosphere with a scientific payload to the launch location and were rewarded with a week-long visit of CERN for their efforts. Unfortunately, due to restrictions related to the pandemic, CERN has had to postpone the visit, initially planned for 2020, to 2021.

Two of the winners, Lukasz and Mateusz, could eventually make it to CERN, where they visited the laboratory’s many facilities and experiments, from CERN’s Synchrocyclotron to ATLAS, and IdeaSquare. As part of their visit, they were invited to print metal objects on the Organization’s metal 3D-printers. Mateusz designed a piece inspired by cave paintings left behind by early humans while Lukasz created a replica of an octupole magnet inspired by their visit to the Antiproton Decelerator.

Lukasz and Mateusz expressed their deep gratitude for an experience which they said strengthened their resolve to continue their academic studies. They voiced interest in applying for student internships at CERN to further explore the many facets of engineering.

thortala Tue, 01/11/2022 - 15:18 Byline Julie Capitaine Publication Date Sat, 12/11/2021 - 15:16

Dorota Gaweda and Egle Kulbokaite win Collide residency award

Tue, 11/01/2022 - 11:43
Dorota Gaweda and Egle Kulbokaite win Collide residency award

Polish artist Dorota Gawęda and Lithuanian artist Eglė Kulbokaitė, a duo based in Basel, Switzerland, have been selected as the winners of this year’s edition of the Collide award alongside three Honorary Mentions.

Collide is the flagship programme of Arts at CERN, which invites artists worldwide from all creative disciplines to submit proposals for a research-led residency based on interaction with CERN’s scientific community. This year’s Collide residency award received 388 submissions from 75 countries.

Working together since 2013, Dorota Gawęda and Eglė Kulbokaitė’s multi-faceted practice navigates between performance, fragrance, installation, sculpture, video and painting, all of which are rooted in feminist theory and fiction. Their winning proposal is entitled “Gusla” and derives from Polish rural folklore.

In 2022, Dorota Gawęda and Eglė Kulbokaitė will extend their collaborative practice during a two-month residency at CERN, working with scientists, engineers and staff of the Laboratory. Later, they will spend one month in Barcelona connecting and engaging in dialogue with scientists from the city while being hosted at the Hangar Centre for Art Research and Production.

The artists are deeply inspired by fundamental physics, especially how quantum physics in relation to living organisms exposes the “strangeness” of the world. “We hope that the engagement with quantum physics has the potential to break normative patterns of human behaviour and negotiate new ways of relating to the natural world,” the duo declare. Engaging with concepts from fundamental physics and drawing from Eastern European summoning rituals, their research calls forth speculative worlds and fictions.

Additionally, the jury selected three Honorary Mentions: Indonesian filmmaker Riar Rizaldi, New Zealand-based collective The Observatory Project and Barcelona-based Colombian artist María Paz. They will be invited to take part in Arts at CERN’s Guest Artists programme – a short stay at the Laboratory to engage with CERN’s research and community and investigate ideas to support their proposals.

The jury was composed of Mónica Bello, Curator and Head of Arts at CERN, Geneva; Valentino Catricalà, Curator of the SODA Gallery, Manchester; Lluis Nacenta, Director of Hangar, Barcelona; Rosa Pera, independent curator, Barcelona; and Helga Timko, Accelerator Physicist at CERN, Geneva.

Collide has been organised in collaboration with Barcelona’s Institute of Culture and Barcelona City Council since 2019 as part of a three-year collaboration (2019–2021).

mailys Tue, 01/11/2022 - 10:43 Publication Date Wed, 01/12/2022 - 10:00

Internal communications survey: change the way you get informed on CERN matters!

Mon, 10/01/2022 - 17:46
Internal communications survey: change the way you get informed on CERN matters!

With 67 years and counting behind it, the CERN Bulletin – the Laboratory’s internal newsletter – is as old as our Organization. Since the days when a print copy was distributed to each office, the Laboratory and its community have changed a lot, and the Bulletin has always adapted to keep up with this evolution and growth. In parallel, new ways of keeping you informed have budded over the years, such as departmental newsletters, internal screens and panels at the sites’ entrances. In the light of the profound changes that CERN is currently undergoing, we think that the time has come for all these communication channels to be rethought and reshaped, to ease access to information, better engage with you and promote the feeling of community that we hold dear.

Help us make this happen by taking this 5-minute survey.

In this survey, you will be asked to share the ways you get informed on CERN news and matters, and your opinions on the various internal communication channels. We strongly encourage you to participate even if you have never read the CERN Bulletin: it is about finding new ways of keeping you engaged in CERN and its mission and of delivering all the information that you need in a timely manner. We think every member of our community can benefit from this.

Your personal data will be processed only until it is download and anonymised. The analysis of the survey and the presentation of the results will be completely anonymous. The collected data will be used exclusively in the framework of the evaluation campaign. Click here for the privacy notice.

thortala Mon, 01/10/2022 - 16:46 Byline Thomas Hortala Publication Date Mon, 01/10/2022 - 16:41

Environmental awareness: Greenhouse gas emissions

Mon, 10/01/2022 - 14:04
Environmental awareness: Greenhouse gas emissions

The recent UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow once again stressed the importance of combatting climate change through the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. CERN is committed to participating in this combat.

The first step in this endeavour is to accurately monitor the Organization’s greenhouse gas emissions following the Greenhouse Gas Protocol’s nomenclature, which breaks down emissions into three scopes: scope 1 refers to the direct carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) emissions resulting from an organisation’s facilities, scope 2 refers to indirect CO2e emissions, for example related to the generation and supply of electricity, while scope 3 refers to indirect CO2e emissions occurring upstream and downstream of an organisation’s activities, such as those linked to mobility and waste.

CERN’s direct CO2e emissions (scope 1) arise from the Laboratory’s industrial infrastructure and on-site activities, such as heating, air conditioning and the vehicle fleet, but the vast majority are generated by the gases in the LHC experiments. These large experiments use a wide range of gas mixtures, including fluorinated gases (F-gases), for particle detection and detector cooling purposes. More than 78% of CERN’s direct emissions is due to F-gases, some of which have high Global Warming Potential (GWP)*.

Distribution of CERN's greenhouse gas emissions in 2019 (representative of LS2, before the COVID-19 pandemic) (Image: CERN)

The Organization set itself the objective of reducing its direct CO2e emissions by 28% by the end of 2024 (baseline year: 2018). Because of their major contribution, F-gases are the main focus of these mitigation efforts and CERN has developed an R&D strategy based on gas recuperation, optimisation of current technologies and replacement with more environmentally friendly gases. During LS2, the Organization took important steps towards replacing F-gases with CO2, which has a substantially lower GWP, in detector cooling systems. The experiments also carried out a leak repair campaign and investigated environmentally friendly gas mixtures. Despite the difficulties arising from the COVID-19 pandemic, most planned repairs have been or are being carried out.

The indirect emissions related to CERN’s electrical power supply and consumption (scope 2) are relatively low as the Laboratory procures low-carbon electricity. Nevertheless, the Organization is committed to limiting its increase in electricity consumption to 5% up to the end of 2024. During LS2, CERN consumed about 64% less electricity, which had a knock-on effect on energy-related emissions.

In 2020 and for the first time, CERN assessed its scope 3 CO2e emissions, such as those arising from business travel, personnel commutes, catering, waste and water purification. This estimate marks an important step in understanding and controlling the Laboratory’s overall emissions. Emissions related to personnel commutes and to long-distance flights in the framework of business travel make up the bulk of CERN’s scope 3 emissions. CERN’s goals are to keep individual motorised vehicle commuting constant by 2025, despite a growing scientific community, and to better understand and monitor emissions deriving from the Laboratory’s procurement. A project was launched by the IPT department in 2021 to address this second goal.

More information about CERN’s scope 3 emissions and their reduction priorities can be found in the latest Environment Report.

In addition to setting reduction objectives and mitigation measures, CERN discusses its carbon footprint in international forums, such as the EIROforum, where representatives of eight major research organisations in Europe share their respective experiences.


This article is part of the series “CERN’s Year of Environmental Awareness”.


* Global Warming Potential (GWP) is defined as the cumulative radiative forcing impact of one unit of a given greenhouse gas, relative to one unit of CO2, over a period of time. In practice, it allows comparisons of the global warming impacts of different gases.


thortala Mon, 01/10/2022 - 13:04 Publication Date Mon, 01/10/2022 - 12:59

BASE breaks new ground in matter–antimatter comparisons

Tue, 21/12/2021 - 18:07
BASE breaks new ground in matter–antimatter comparisons

In a paper published today in the journal Nature, the BASE collaboration at CERN reports the most precise comparison yet between protons and antiprotons, the antimatter counterparts of protons.

Analysing proton and antiproton measurements taken over a year and a half at CERN’s antimatter factory, a unique facility for antimatter production and analyses, the BASE team measured the electric charge-to-mass ratios of the proton and the antiproton with record precision. The results found these are identical to within an experimental uncertainty of 16 parts per trillion.

“This result represents the most precise direct test of a fundamental symmetry between matter and antimatter, performed with particles made of three quarks, known as baryons, and their antiparticles,” says BASE spokesperson Stefan Ulmer.

According to the Standard Model, which represents physicists’ current best theory of particles and their interactions, matter and antimatter particles can differ, for example in the way they transform into other particles, but most of their properties, including their masses, should be identical. Finding any slight difference between the masses of protons and antiprotons, or between the ratios of their electric charge and mass, would break a fundamental symmetry of the Standard Model, called CPT symmetry, and point to new physics phenomena beyond the Model.

Such a difference could also shed light on why the universe is made up almost entirely of matter, even though equal amounts of antimatter should have been created in the Big Bang. The differences between matter and antimatter particles that are consistent with the Standard Model are smaller by orders of magnitude to be able to explain this observed cosmic imbalance.

To make their proton and antiproton measurements, the BASE team confined antiprotons and negatively charged hydrogen ions[1], which are negatively charged proxies for protons, in a state-of-the-art particle trap called a Penning trap. In this device, a particle follows a cyclical trajectory with a frequency, close to the cyclotron frequency, that scales with the trap’s magnetic-field strength and the particle's charge-to-mass ratio.

Alternately feeding antiprotons and negatively charged hydrogen ions one at a time into the trap, the BASE team measured, under the same conditions, the cyclotron frequencies of these two kinds of particle, allowing their charge-to-mass ratios to be compared.

Performed over four campaigns between December 2017 and May 2019, these measurements resulted in more than 24000 cyclotron-frequency comparisons, each lasting 260 seconds, between the charge-to-mass ratios of antiprotons and negatively charged hydrogen ions. From these comparisons, and after accounting for the difference between a proton and a negatively charged hydrogen ion, the BASE researchers found that the charge-to-mass ratios of protons and antiprotons are equal to within 16 parts per trillion.

“This result is four times more precise than the previous best comparison between these ratios, and the charge-to-mass ratio is now the most precisely measured property of the antiproton.” says Stefan Ulmer. “To reach this precision, we made considerable upgrades to the experiment and carried out the measurements when the antimatter factory was closed down, using our reservoir of antiprotons, which can store antiprotons for years.” Making cyclotron-frequency measurements when the antimatter factory is not in operation is ideal, because the measurements are not affected by disturbances to the experiment’s magnetic field.

In addition to comparing protons and antiprotons with an unprecedented precision, the BASE team used their measurements to place stringent limits on models beyond the Standard Model that violate CPT symmetry, as well as to test a fundamental physics law known as the weak equivalence principle.

According to this principle, different bodies in the same gravitational field undergo the same acceleration in the absence of friction forces. Because the BASE experiment is placed on the surface of the Earth, its proton and antiproton cyclotron-frequency measurements were made in the gravitational field on the Earth’s surface. Any difference between the gravitational interaction of protons and antiprotons would result in a difference between the proton and antiproton cyclotron frequencies.

Sampling the varying gravitational field of the Earth as the planet orbits around the Sun, the BASE scientists found no such difference and set a maximum value on this differential measurement of three parts in 100.

“This limit is comparable to the initial precision goals of experiments that aim to drop antihydrogen in the Earth’s gravitational field,” says Ulmer. “BASE did not directly drop antimatter in the Earth’s gravitational field, but our measurement of the influence of gravity on a baryonic antimatter particle is conceptually very similar, indicating no anomalous interaction between antimatter and gravity at the achieved level of uncertainty.”


Video about BASE:

Video about the Antimatter Factory :


BASE experiment:

BASE penning trap:


[1] A hydrogen atom that has captured an extra electron.

ssanchis Tue, 12/21/2021 - 17:07 Publication Date Wed, 01/05/2022 - 17:01

Relive 2021 at CERN

Tue, 21/12/2021 - 16:43
Relive 2021 at CERN


With LHC’s Run 3 around the corner, it has been a year of milestones at CERN! Accelerators saw their first beams circulating and experiments went through significant transformations to increase their detection potential.  

Among physics results, the discovery of the odderon by the TOTEM and DØ collaborations, the first laser-cooling of antimatter at ALPHA and first candidate collider neutrinos at FASER are only a few that generated awe at the Laboratory. CLOUD, BASE, AMS, LHCb, CMS, ATLAS, ALICE, ISOLDE and NA64 also had exciting news in store.

Watch this video and enjoy a visual journey through key moments of 2021!

cagrigor Tue, 12/21/2021 - 15:43 Publication Date Tue, 12/21/2021 - 15:42

Guardians of the tunnel

Tue, 21/12/2021 - 11:23
Guardians of the tunnel

With over 60 km of tunnels and more than 80 caverns at depths ranging from 50 to 175 metres, CERN’s underground infrastructure is one of the most complex in the world. Most of these tunnels are more than 60 years old, and CERN’s geology of moraines, molasse and limestone requires continuous risk assessment as any movement could disrupt or even halt the operation of the accelerator complex.

During LS2, the Future Studies (FS) section of the Site and Civil Engineering (SCE) department inspected 60 km of underground tunnels and subsurface infrastructure. They found 550 defects, mostly minor. However, of the 8% of faults that were severe, cracks were the most common issue.

Traditionally, an engineer would inspect and manually document cracks and other issues in the tunnels, which is a meticulous and slow process. But a new project being carried out in collaboration with other departments is aimed at finding time-efficient solutions to improve the safety and efficacy of the inspections using new technologies that allow automated analysis, remote inspection and digitalisation.

One of these solutions is the CERN Inspection Tool (TIC – “Collector”), a fully digital, mobile-based app that is fully integrated into CERN’s GIS portal and allows users to record a fault, attach photos, measure distances and locate the fault on a map. After an inspection, all the records are uploaded wirelessly to the GIS servers, where they can be viewed immediately on the “Tunnel Inspection” thematic map.

But most recently, artificial intelligence devices native to CERN – like the CERNbot and the TIM robot – are being used to acquire data and photos from the tunnels. These remotely operated robots, developed by the Controls, Electronics and Mechatronics (BE-CEM) group, take inspection photos that are then processed to identify cracks and automatically locate them. Using photogrammetry and deep learning to analyse CERN's underground infrastructure, a team of experts from the Future Studies section and University College Cork (UCC) has developed a real-time crack and feature recognition algorithm. “This remote collection of photos and data obtained using robots promises to allow more regular inspections and less risk to inspectors, although further testing is needed”, said John Osborne, Future Studies section leader.

Another PhD research project involving the SCE department and the UCC explores the use of fibre optic cables to remotely measure underground movements, allowing the tunnels to be continuously monitored even during accelerator operation.

cagrigor Tue, 12/21/2021 - 10:23 Byline Cristina Agrigoroae Publication Date Tue, 12/21/2021 - 10:02

Michel Spiro promoted to officer of the Legion of Honour, France’s highest order of merit

Fri, 17/12/2021 - 10:00
Michel Spiro promoted to officer of the Legion of Honour, France’s highest order of merit thortala Fri, 12/17/2021 - 09:00

Former President of the CERN Council Michel Spiro has been promoted to the class of officer of the Legion of Honour (officier de la Légion d'honneur). The announcement of the order’s recipients came in July and Michel Spiro, who is – among other roles – the current president of the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics (IUPAP) and Chair of the Board of the CERN & Society Foundation, was awarded the honour in a ceremony held at the Collège de France on 30 November 2021 in the presence of his family, colleagues and friends.

Claude Cohen-Tannoudji, the 1997 physics Nobel prize winner, awarded the medal on behalf of the French President in a video transmission. He underlined Michel Spiro’s important contributions to astro- and particle physics throughout a long international career. Furthermore, he highlighted his current leadership as President of IUPAP, focusing in particular on his enthusiastic promotion of the International Year of Basic Sciences for Sustainable Development, which was recently proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly. Michel Spiro concluded with a few words about his commitment to the CERN & Society Foundation and thanked all those who had supported him throughout his career.

Fri, 12/17/2021 - 08:57

The 2021 five-yearly review completes its course

Thu, 16/12/2021 - 18:32
The 2021 five-yearly review completes its course HR department thortala Thu, 12/16/2021 - 17:32

Formally launched on 1 January 2020, the five-yearly review recently completed its course with the approval by the Council of the proposals put forward by the Management.

This is the culmination of two years of data collection and analysis, consultation with various services across the Organization and in-depth concertation with the Staff Association. The process is designed to ensure that the Organization remains attractive, with financial and social conditions tailored to allow it to recruit and retain talent from across its Member States. It also aims to ensure optimal conditions for its fellows, as well as its many associates, in order to guarantee the continued success of the Lab.

As detailed in the Bulletin article on 13 September, the Management’s proposals were elaborated and presented, following concertation with the Staff Association, to TREF, which conveyed its support for the proposals to the Finance Committee, which in turn recommended them to the Council for final approval. Prior to the presentation to TREF, agreement was reached between the Management and the Staff Association on the proposals regarding maintaining stipends for fellows and subsistence allowances for associated members of the personnel at their current levels. In parallel, a dedicated technical working group was mandated to review the financial resources for associated members of the personnel employed by an external institute; this work is ongoing. Agreement was also reached on the proposal regarding Annex A 1, which anticipates keeping the five-yearly review exercise open until June 2022 to permit a review of the procedures set out therein, and to allow any necessary technical updates to be made.

The Management and the Staff Association did not, however, reach a common position on the proposal regarding staff salaries. While the Staff Association argued for a 9% increase in salaries, the Management maintained that the data did not support this: this proposal was therefore submitted to the Director-General for arbitration. In the light of the data from salary surveys performed by the ISRP (OECD) and CERN’s recruitment and retention report, which confirmed the Organization’s continued ability to attract and retain candidates from all its Member States, while acknowledging persistent challenges for some, the Director-General decided to uphold the Management’s proposal to maintain salaries at their current levels. More information indicating that the difficulties arise not from salaries, but rather from the wider perspective of family-related criteria, dual careers, the contract policy and myriad other reasons affecting the decision to take up a position abroad can be found here.

In this vein, the benchmarking study on matters related to diversity and inclusion, which the ISRP (OECD) was mandated in 2020 to carry out in the course of this five-yearly review exercise, provides rich and important data. The Management, in collaboration with the Staff Association, is fully committed to following up on the results to ensure that diversity and inclusion matters are not limited to actions being taken once every five years, but are under continuous review.

In December, the Finance Committee unanimously recommended and the Council unanimously approved the Management’s proposals. Nevertheless, this study highlighted the need for continued efforts to increase recruitment from underrepresented Member States, in line with the Director-General’s strategic objectives. Hiring a diverse, representative workforce is key to CERN’s continued success; to that end, dedicated efforts are under way to ensure that we attract a diverse talent pool, with due commitment to the international character of the Organization. The Graduate Programme Review, currently under development, will also play an important role in attracting bright graduates to CERN by ensuring competitive employment conditions, and this in turn will help create a diverse pipeline for our staff contingent of the future. Further, the launch this year of the Diversity and Inclusion programme’s 25 by ’25 strategy, which is the first ever target-based strategy to boost gender and nationality diversity within the staff and fellows population, is timely and will foster a culture of awareness throughout the Organization and a proactive approach to achieving the objectives collectively.

CERN is a unique organisation, and the rich discussions that have taken place and concerns that have been raised throughout this five-yearly review process underline our common goal of fostering its international and vibrant community so that we can continue to deliver on our mission: science for the benefit of all.

Thu, 12/16/2021 - 17:28

Register now for Beamline for Schools 2022

Thu, 16/12/2021 - 14:55
Register now for Beamline for Schools 2022 thortala Thu, 12/16/2021 - 13:55

Beamline for Schools 2022 is kicking off! Since 2014, this competition has been offering teams of high-school students from all over the world the opportunity to experience what it is like to be a scientist at a major particle physics laboratory. It is open to teams of five students or more, aged 16 and over, led by an adult supervisor, or “coach”.

Participants are invited to think of a simple and creative experiment that can be performed at the beamline of a particle accelerator. The written proposal – with an optional short video – must be submitted by 15 April 2022 CET at midnight, the deadline for applications. The task may sound very challenging or even intimidating, but participants can draw inspiration from previous years’ proposals. They can also count on the help of the Beamline for Schools team and of regional contact persons from different countries.

Following the reviewing process, two winning teams get the opportunity to conduct their experiments at a particle physics facility. After three very successful editions at DESY, Germany’s national laboratory for particle physics in Hamburg, participants will come back to CERN for the 2022 edition. The experiments will be carried out at one of the recently renewed beamlines of the Proton Synchrotron accelerator.

All participants will receive a participation certificate, shortlisted teams will be awarded special prizes and the winners – up to nine students and two coaches per team – will be invited to CERN for 10 to 15 days to perform their experiments, with all expenses paid.

A series of online events introducing participants to the competition, to particle physics and to CERN will be organised by April 2022.

Find out more about Beamline for Schools and register here by 15 April 2022.

Thu, 12/16/2021 - 13:54

Computer security: Disaster for your crown jewels

Wed, 15/12/2021 - 18:15
Computer security: Disaster for your crown jewels Computer Security team thortala Wed, 12/15/2021 - 17:15

Following one of our previous articles on ransomware (“The risk of losing it all…”) and the three mantras to counter it – don’t get it; don’t pay; have disaster-recovery means in place – let’s discuss that third mantra again. How to avoid a disaster for your “crown jewels”.

Crown jewels? Of course, here we don’t mean the shiny carbon pellets belonging to the Queen of the United Kingdom and stored in the Tower of London but rather documents, files, settings and other data whose unrecoverable loss would signify a tremendous trauma for you and a significant setback for the Organization. A real disaster. Like you losing all your precious family photos from the day you and your kids were born. Some CERN examples might be:

  • calibration data of accelerator or experiment components that took months of cosmic runs, low-intensity runs or other special runs to acquire or whose values have been fine-tuned over years of operation ꟷ think of cryogenics systems, the beam loss monitors, silicon trackers and calorimeters;
  • calibration data, fudge factors, efficiencies, run information and similar values gained after iterations of reprocessing of physics data, accumulated knowledge of detector performance, zillions of cross-checks, and essential data for the correct interpretation thereof;
  • physics analysis software – online or offline – leading to major discoveries;
  • all the data necessary to perform a cold restart of your control system or computing service, or to reinstall it from scratch without the process taking more than a few days;
  • configuration data essential for running computing services like the Active Directory, the collection of Puppet manifests or the EOS file catalogue;
  • records of historical value like photos or our funding documents;
  • Pension Fund records and investment plans;
  • contracts, NDAs and other documents signed by and committing the Organization.

Ideally and theoretically, all that data (and any other crown jewels you know of and hold dear) should be placed in the safe custody of the IT department with multiple and independently stored copies in place, tested for recovery and well protected against alteration. But given the complexity and heterogeneity of the Organization, it’s better to be safe than sorry and to double-check.

Do you own any of the aforementioned or any other crown jewels? Where do you store them? Do the storage owners and storage managers know about them? Have they put the right means in place to really guarantee fully independent, unalterable and verified back-ups? Are you sure that your expectations of back-ups, business continuity and disaster recovery matches what they offer? Tell us by email at

Remember that there are three kinds of people: (1) those who don't back up (and regret it later), (2) those who back up but don't check their back-ups (and definitely regret it later), and (3) those who back up and check their back-ups. It’s not too late to check! You, as a CERN service manager, data taker, control system expert, trigger master, software custodian or document librarian, have a professional responsibility to ensure that your crown jewels are properly protected and backed up. So, talk to us or your storage provider. Figure out how your mission-critical information assets are handled. And make disaster recovery a priority. Otherwise, you risk losing it all… which would be a disaster for your crown jewels, and for CERN.

Do you want to learn more about computer security incidents and issues at CERN? Follow our Monthly Report. For further information, questions or help, check our website or contact us at


Wed, 12/15/2021 - 17:11

ISOLDE data get deluxe theoretical treatment

Fri, 10/12/2021 - 15:46
ISOLDE data get deluxe theoretical treatment

The atomic nucleus is a tough nut to crack. The strong interaction between the protons and neutrons that make it up depends on many quantities, and these particles, collectively known as nucleons, are subject to not only two-body forces but also three-body ones. These and other features make the theoretical modelling of atomic nuclei a challenging endeavour.

In the past few decades, however, ab initio theoretical calculations, which attempt to describe nuclei from first principles, have started to change our understanding of nuclei. These calculations require fewer assumptions than traditional nuclear models, and they have a stronger predictive power. That said, because so far they can only be used to predict the properties of nuclei up to a certain atomic mass, they cannot always be compared with so-called DFT calculations, which are also fundamental and powerful and have been around for longer. Such a comparison is essential to build a nuclear model that is applicable across the board.

In a paper just published in Physical Review Letters, an international team at CERN’s ISOLDE facility shows how a unique combination of high-quality experimental data and several ab initio and DFT nuclear-physics calculations has resulted in an excellent agreement between the different calculations, as well as between the data and the calculations.

“Our study demonstrates that precision nuclear theory from first principles is no longer a dream,” says Stephan Malbrunot of CERN, the first author of the paper. “In our work, the calculations agree with each other, as well as with our ISOLDE data on nickel nuclei, to within a small theoretical uncertainty.”

Using a suite of experimental methods at ISOLDE, including a technique to detect the light emitted by short-lived atoms when laser light is shone on them, Malbrunot and colleagues determined the (charge) radii of a range of short-lived nickel nuclei, which have the same number of protons, 28, but a different number of neutrons. These 28 protons fill a complete shell within the nucleus, resulting in nuclei that are more strongly bound and stable than their nuclear neighbours. Such “magic” nuclei are excellent test cases for nuclear theories, and in terms of their radius, nickel nuclei are the last unexplored magic nuclei that have a mass within the mass region at which both ab initio and DFT calculations can be made.

Comparing the ISOLDE radii data with three ab initio calculations and one DFT calculation, the researchers found that the calculations agree with the data, as well as with each other, to within a theoretical uncertainty of one part in a hundred.

“An agreement at this level of precision demonstrates that it will eventually become possible to build a model that is applicable across the whole chart of nuclei,” says Malbrunot.

abelchio Fri, 12/10/2021 - 14:46 Byline Ana Lopes Publication Date Fri, 01/14/2022 - 18:35

CERN and IUPAP: A long-standing partnership

Wed, 08/12/2021 - 15:42
CERN and IUPAP: A long-standing partnership Jens Vigen Monica Pepe-Altarelli thortala Wed, 12/08/2021 - 14:42

IUPAP is the only global international scientific union dedicated to physics, connecting physicists from all fields and all continents. Founded in Brussels in 1922 with 13 member countries, its membership has grown today to 60 countries. Its centenary will be marked by a series of activities celebrating physics and marking the Union’s achievements. These include a Centennial Symposium to be held at the International Centre for Theoretical Physics (ICTP) in Trieste in July as a hybrid event. Events will also be organised in 2023, including the 100th anniversary of the first IUPAP General Assembly, which will be held at the newly inaugurated CERN Science Gateway, if the situation allows.

IUPAP and CERN have a long history of collaboration. As early as 1958, CERN hosted the IUPAP-sponsored meeting “The 8th Annual International Conference on High-Energy Physics”. Since then, CERN scientists have played active roles in many IUPAP commissions and working groups, in particular Commission 11: “Particles and Fields” and Working Group 1: “International Committee for Future Accelerators (ICFA)”.

IUPAP continues to develop and to expand its global reach. To ensure stability and continuity in its operations, IUPAP has taken the decision to register itself in Geneva as an association under Swiss law. It has also introduced corporate associate membership, which will enable new actors to get involved, including industry with a focus on physics. A new configuration for a new century.  

IUPAP was the driving force behind last week’s UN General Assembly proclamation of 2022 as the International Year of Basic Science for Sustainable Development, giving CERN another good reason to pursue the partnership as the Union enters its second century.  

Innovation in managing excavated materials: an FCC contribution to the circular economy

Wed, 08/12/2021 - 15:17
Innovation in managing excavated materials: an FCC contribution to the circular economy Panagiotis Charitos thortala Wed, 12/08/2021 - 14:17

A key recommendation of last year’s update to the European Strategy for Particle Physics is that Europe, in collaboration with the worldwide community, should undertake a feasibility study for a next-generation hadron collider. As a result, the Future Circular Collider (FCC) Feasibility Study is committed to investigating the technical and financial viability of such a facility at CERN.

The feasibility study for the FCC provides a unique space to explore ideas that could tackle the colossal challenge of achieving a more sustainable future and to test technologies with applications beyond particle physics.

To that end, CERN and the Montanuniversität Leoben in Austria launched the international competition Mining the Future with the support of the EU-funded Horizon 2020 FCC Innovation Study project. In line with circular economy principles, the challenge set for the participants was to identify credible solutions for the innovative reuse and sustainable management of the large quantities of molasse material that would be excavated during the construction phase of the future FCC tunnel. Such rock deposits are abundant in the Geneva region and all over the Alps.

“The solutions put forward for the construction of new underground tunnels to host future colliders could also apply to other future tunnel and underground civil engineering projects. CERN has a long-standing record of pioneering technical solutions that are put to good use in areas lying beyond its core scientific mission,” said CERN’s Johannes Gutleber.

Phase 1 of Mining the Future ran from 1 May to 31 October. Applicants from all over Europe stepped up to tackle this challenge, submitting high-quality proposals with huge innovation potential. Young researchers, fresh start-ups, universities and traditional players from the construction industry formed consortia to develop their strategies. Each of the proposals addresses both the technical feasibility – with participants presenting evidence from a controlled laboratory environment – and the socio-economic impact.

Some of the solutions focus on developing fast and efficient sorting processes enabling the reuse of the excavated material for the creation of marketable products. These products can then cover regional needs or feed the European marketplace – participants went as far as providing the tools for connecting supply with demand. Other innovative proposals are dedicated to the elaboration of methods for transforming the excavated molasse into construction materials or alternatively, proposing smart construction techniques based on the immediate reuse of molasse.

By keeping excavated materials in play, circular economy models offer a clear pathway towards achieving our collective climate goals and reducing greenhouse gas emissions linked to the extraction, processing, manufacturing and landfilling of natural resources. “Tunnel excavation material is, too often, still treated as waste. Change needs to come in the form of both new technical solutions and an updated legal framework. Everyone can benefit from a green underground infrastructure,” said Professor Robert Galler, co-organiser of the competition and chair of the jury committee.

Over the coming months, the jury committee will carefully evaluate the applications. This second stage of this contest will offer participants the opportunity to refine their proposals. The final winner will be announced in August 2022, with an award ceremony to take place next October at ZaB-Zentrum am Berg, Austria.

On the long path towards the FCC, the Mining the Future competition is a resolute first step towards the development of new construction models that create economic value, build local resilience and spur innovation across sectors.

Environmental awareness: Managing chemical products

Tue, 07/12/2021 - 12:57
Environmental awareness: Managing chemical products thortala Tue, 12/07/2021 - 11:57

Chemical safety at CERN begins with avoiding chemical products whenever possible. If that is not an option, the least hazardous chemical product should be selected. Wherever chemical products are used, appropriate prevention measures should be observed. In addition to these measures, CERN provides training courses and has put in place procedures regarding chemical safety.

CERN experts are available to support you in identifying and evaluating chemical products and to provide advice on their appropriate usage (e.g. handling and storage) and alternative products. For further questions, please contact

This infographic is part of the “CERN’s Year of Environmental Awareness” series.



CERN receives a local “soft mobility” prize

Mon, 06/12/2021 - 16:55
CERN receives a local “soft mobility” prize Thomas Hortala thortala Mon, 12/06/2021 - 15:55

The French local authorities have recognised CERN’s ecomobility actions by awarding it the “establishments committed to soft mobility” prize, following the regional “Mobility Challenge” that was taken up by the CERN community in September 2021. The Ain Energy and Climate Agency (Agence de l’énergie et du climat de l’Ain – ALEC 01) singled out CERN as one of the department’s employers that are successfully investing in alternatives to the private car.

Gilles Bollinger (SCE-SCC-CS), a member of CERN’s Soft Mobility Working Group, accepted the prize on the Organization’s behalf at a ceremony held in Miribel near Lyon on 30 November. During the ceremony, Gilles had the opportunity to present CERN’s “soft mobility” strategy, which is geared towards increasing the facilities available to cyclists (cycle paths, bicycle stands, bicycle maintenance equipment) and renting out bicycles and electric bicycles through the Mobility Service. He also underlined CERN’s commitment to initiatives like the annual “Bike2Work” campaign and the Mobility Challenge.

The strategy is bearing fruit. In 2018, 32% of the CERN community commuted to work by bicycle, on foot or using public transport. This figure, which is above the average for conurbations, earned CERN the title of “soft-mobility accelerator” from the organisers of the prize.


Computer security: A new bonbon to protect you

Mon, 06/12/2021 - 13:24
Computer security: A new bonbon to protect you Computer Security team thortala Mon, 12/06/2021 - 12:24

With the new firewall in place (“Block the bad, grant the good access”) in addition to our dedicated malware-quarantining appliance that has been running smoothly  for some years, it’s time for strike number three:  the deployment of new anti-virus, anti-malware and endpoint detection and response software running on Windows and Mac computers. Our bonbon for Christmas.

Multi-featured anti-malware software (AM) and sophisticated endpoint detection and response software (EDR) are the last line of defence for your computer before everything goes down the drain (“What have accelerators and pipelines in common?”). By monitoring local activities on your computer – by the operating system, on the local file system and network communications – the AM and EDR are jointly able to detect and report abnormal or malicious activity. The AM is a security suite constituting the first line of defence. It looks for malware signatures identified by a global threat intelligence network as well as improves system security generally by, for example, detecting behaviour associated with ransomware, blocking access to malicious websites and monitoring that system updates have been applied.

The EDR is a specialised threat hunting and response software using CERN-internal and external threat intelligence feeds to detect more sophisticated attacks. Whole system state behaviour is analysed by the central dashboard, allowing CERN’s Security Operations Centre to analyse threats in real time in order to better understand the origin, damage, extent and consequences of the successful attack, as well as run remote queries intended for threat hunting.

CERN is about to purchase this new AM and EDR solution and is in the process of rolling it out. Based on different use cases, device ownerships, responsibilities and privacy aspects, there are two distinct deployment methods for CERN-owned devices and for personal devices (“bring your own device” or, for short, BYOD):

  • All centrally managed devices, i.e. centrally managed Windows servers and centrally managed Windows PCs/laptops, will have AM, EDR solutions deployed via the standard means (i.e. CMF) and remotely managed, monitored and maintained by CERN Desktop Support. Similarly, the installation of AM and EDR solutions are envisaged and supposed to be deployed and enforced for all Windows laptops and Macbooks bought with a CERN budget code. In all cases, the CERN Computer Security team will intervene and conduct remote incident response in case the AM/EDR triggers an alert;
  • When it comes to BYOD, your personal Windows laptops, Macbooks and the PCs you use at home for teleworking also benefit! You can download and install the AM free of charge from the CERN app store for Windows or Mac-Self Service. The licence must be renewed every 12 months by reconnecting to that app store or it will become invalid. However, since the installation concerns your personal device, your privacy is paramount to us. All alerts will be displayed only to the local user. Neither the CERN Service Desk nor the Windows Support Team nor the CERN Computer Security Team will be able to remotely connect to your device. You would need to contact us at in case of problems or issues.

Thus, with this new AM and EDR offer by CERN, you can protect your work horse, your teleworking posts, your personal data and CERN, all in one go. Right in time for Christmas. C’est bon-bon, non?

Do you want to learn more about computer security incidents and issues at CERN? Follow our Monthly Report. For further information, questions or help, check our website or contact us at