The European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) is the world’s most important research laboratory in the field of particle physics, unique in its complexity, scientific-technological prospects, and industrial potential. Founded in 1954, it represents one of the earliest examples of European collaboration. Today, 23 member countries and others with observer status (Japan, India, Russian Federation, JINR-DUBNA, European Union, UNESCO and the United States) participate. The Observer status of the Russian Federation and JINR are suspended in accordance with the CERN Council Resolution of 8 and 25 March 2022.
Significant are the spillovers of CERN-led research on economic and civil progress. Examples include the World Wide Web (www), conceived at CERN in 1990, and the proton and carbon ion accelerator used for cancer therapy at the CNAO National Center for Oncology Hadron-therapy in Pavia. CERN is also a laboratory for training young people-engineers, technicians, physicists-who return home after a period of time, transferring the technological knowledge they have acquired to the national industrial and manufacturing world.
Italy participates at the highest level in CERN’s activities. It is the fourth largest contributing country, with about 120 million Swiss francs per year, which is the 10 percent of the total budget, borne by the Ministry of University and Research. The National Institute of Nuclear Physics (INFN) plays a significant role in conducting experiments and is the national reference agency in the fields of elementary particle physics and nuclear physics. Italy has played a leading role since the beginning in 1953. Edoardo Amaldi was the first Secretary General. Luciano Maiani, Nobel Laureate Carlo Rubbia and, since January 2016, Fabiola Gianotti, the first woman Secretary General and now in her second term, have also served as Director General.
Italians at CERN as Staff Members number more than 320 (out of a total of nearly 2,700 staff), about 60 of them at the top level. In addition, about 1,800 Italians researchers collaborate on experiments, from Italian universities and INFN.
The Permanent Mission of Italy to the United Nations in Geneva and the President of INFN follow the work of the CERN management.
Historically CERN gave a very significant positive impact to the Italian market by giving to the Italian industry the opportunity to participate in the experiments with products of high technology and proven reliability.
Currently under construction is the “Science Gateway “, a facility dedicated to the dissemination of science and technology developed at CERN, which will be open to the general public. The ” Science Gateway ” will cover 7 thousand square meters and include several buildings, powered by solar energy, within which experimental laboratories and exhibition areas will be set up. The new center will accommodate up to 300 thousand visitors a year and will house a museum and a 900-seat auditorium dedicated to Sergio Marchionne.
This project will be completed by the fall of 2023, and it is a mainly Italian achievement: the architect in charge of the project is Renzo Piano; a major part of the funding (about 45 million francs out of a total cost of 73 million) is secured by the FCA (Fiat Chrysler Automobiles) Foundation and STELLANTIS; while the structures will be built by ICM SPA and CIMOLAI SPA, the two Italian companies that won the relevant tenders.
Recently, Italian scientist Sergio Bertolucci served as Director of Research and Scientific Computing until the end of 2015. In recent years four major experiments at the CERN Large Hadron Collider (LHC) have been led by the following italians:
ALICE, (Paolo Giubellino and Federico Antinori), ATLAS (Fabiola Gianotti), CMS (Guido Tonelli, Tiziano Camporesi, Roberto Carlin, Luca Malgeri), and LHCb (Pierluigi Campana and Giovanni Passaleva).