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Stamp in CERN's honour, issued by the Swiss Post Office in 1966

The name CERN

CERN is the European Organization for Nuclear Research. The name is derived from the acronym for the French Conseil Européen pour la Recherche Nucléaire, or European Council for Nuclear Research, a provisional body founded in 1952 with the mandate of establishing a world-class fundamental physics research organization in Europe. At that time, pure physics research concentrated on understanding the inside of the atom, hence the word ‘nuclear’.

When the Organization officially came into being in 1954, the Council was dissolved, and the new organization was given the title European Organization for Nuclear Research, although the name CERN was retained.

Today, our understanding of matter goes much deeper than the nucleus, and CERN’s main area of research is particle physics — the study of the fundamental constituents of matter and the forces acting between them. Because of this, the laboratory operated by CERN is commonly referred to as the European Laboratory for Particle Physics.