Swiss President Pascal Couchepin announced Wednesday 4 June an early 50th birthday present 1 from the Swiss Confederation to CERN2. Switzerland has decided to offer the laboratory the 'Palais de l'Equilibre', a landmark bu ilding designed by Geneva architects for Switzerland's 2002 national exhibition. Standing 27 metres high, the building will be transformed into an exhibition and networking centre at CERN's site on the outskirts of Geneva, and renamed the Globe of Innovation. "I am convinced that the Globe of Innovation will occupy an important place in passing the message of science," said President Couchepin.
CERN already welcomes some 30,000 visitors to its Microcosm exhibition centre each year, most of whom go on to take a guided tour of the laboratory. Demand, however, far outstrips CERN's current capacity. The Globe of Innovation will allow CERN to develop its visitor programme substantially, and position itself as a major regional attraction.
The Globe of Innovation will also provide a networking centre for CERN and its industrial partners, in particular in the field of technology transfer. Although CERN is primarily a fundamental physics research laboratory, the technologies developed by the laboratory's scientists frequently find applications further afield. The World Wide Web and techniques in medical imaging are prime examples.
"The Globe will provide a landmark structure for CERN befitting the stature of the Organization as the world's leading fundamental physics research laboratory," said CERN Director-General Luciano Maiani. "It is a very precious gift from the Swiss Confederation for our 50th anniversary, and a wonderful opportunity for CERN," added Carlo Wyss, Director for Accelerators, who led the laboratory's bid for the Globe.
President Couchepin made the announcement during the inauguration ceremony for the underground cavern that will house ATLAS, one of the major experiments under construction for CERN's new research facility, the Large Hadron Collider (LHC). Due to switch on in 2007, the LHC will take physicists on the next stage of a journey of discovery that started with Newton's description of gravity. Gravity acts on mass, but so far science has been unable to explain why the fundamental particles of matter have the masses they have. Experiments at the LHC should provide an answer.
The LHC's experiments will also probe the mysterious missing mass and energy of the universe – visible matter accounts for only 5% of what we know must exist. In addition, they will investigate the reason for nature's preference for matter over antimatter, and will probe matter as it existed during the first instants of the Universe.