The Compact Muon Solenoid is one of two particle physics detectors on the Large Hadron Collider © CERN
The Compact Muon Solenoid is one of two particle physics detectors on the Large Hadron Collider © CERN

CERN: Buying at the edge of understanding

Things can get complicated for the procurement team at CERN, when scientists often need items beyond the capabilities of industry

Save for a few remote tribes, there are few places left on the planet where people haven’t heard of the World Wide Web. More recently, the ‘Large Hadron Collider’, which found the Higgs boson elementary particle, has also entered the modern lexicon. One revolutionised global communications; the other is at the very edge of our understanding of the universe.

What connects them is that both hail from the European Organization for Nuclear Research – or CERN – an intergovernmental organisation based in Geneva where physicists and engineers probe the fundamental laws of nature.

Momentous discoveries made at CERN, together with appealing clever-clogs personalities such as Professor Brian Cox, and a host of new TV and radio series for enquiring minds, have propelled science into the mainstream once again. CERN itself now receives more than 100,000 visitors a year, an exponential increase in recent times.

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