TEDxCERN will be held inside CERN’s world-famous Globe. Photo: TEDxCERN
You have probably heard of CERN — the European Organization for Nuclear Research and the home of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), the world’s largest and most powerful particle accelerator: longer than the island of Manhattan. CERN and the LHC are famous for their role in the recent discovery of what very likely is the Higgs boson, a particle crucial to the standard model of physics. But now, CERN will house another exciting first: their first TEDx event.
Tomorrow, May 3, CERN will bring together thinkers of all kinds to examine our universe and provide insight into why studying it matters. And lucky for you, you don’t have to go to Switzerland to watch in real time. The program will stream live online at the TEDxCERN website from 13:45 to 20:00 (CEST).
So why should you tune in?
1. Because of the incredible speaker lineup. CERN has invited 23 great speakers and performers to the stage. Some highlights of the lineup:
- Philosopher John Searle, the winner of the 2004 National Humanities Award
- Astrophysicist George Smoot, cosmologist and Nobel Prize laureate
- Chris Lintott, the head of Zooniverse at Oxford University and co-presenter of the BBC’s Sky at Night program
- Marc Abrahams, MC of the Ig Nobel Awards and editor of the Annals of Improbable Research
- 18-year-old Britney Wegner, grand prize winner of the 2012 Google Science Fair
- Sergio Bertolucci, director for research and scientific computing at CERN
2. Because the venue will be thrilling. TEDxCERN will take place at the Globe of Science and Innovation on the CERN campus in Geneva. This giant wooden globe — about the size of the Sistine Chapel — was first constructed for the 2000 World Exhibition in Hanover, but now stands as a stirring tribute to the groundbreaking work happening at CERN’s headquarters every day. Says the CERN website, “A landmark by day and by night, the Globe … sends a clear message on science, particle physics, cutting-edge technologies and their applications in everyday life.”
3. Because they make understanding particle physics child’s play. Part of CERN’s mission is making the work done there accessible to those who don’t have a deeply-honed understanding of particle physics. To that end, CERN scientists have teamed up with the animators of TED-Ed to create five easy-to-understand (and fun-to-watch) lessons that explain concepts like the Big Bang, dark matter, big data and Higgs boson. The first of these lessons, “The beginning of the universe, for beginners,” is currently available via TED-Ed. The other four lessons will premiere at TEDxCERN — those watching live will be the first to see ‘em.
4. Because CERN is part of the reason we have the internet. Ever wondered who created that little thing called the World Wide Web? Tim Berners-Lee was a software engineer at CERN in the 1980s, when he proposed the idea to his bosses as a way to “reframe the way we use information.” Twenty years ago this week, CERN offered up the software required to run a web server, a basic browser, and a standard library of code — all royalty free. To celebrate the anniversary, CERN posted the very first public web page ever — dedicated to the “World Wide Web project itself.”
5. Because the Higgs boson is poised to change everything. In 2012, the media was abuzz with stories about the “god particle,” aka Higgs boson. This particle was theorized to exist in 1964 by six scientists, including one Peter Higgs. The existence of the particle would confirm the existence of the Higgs field, believed to surround everything, giving mass to elementary particles that, without it, would be massless. The discovery of Higgs boson is the beginning of a whole new field of research and several TEDxCERN talks will touch on where it’s headed. We’re looking forward to the talk, “What the Higgs might mean for the fate of the universe,” from theoretical physicist Gian Giudice.
6. Because you won’t be alone. More than 25 universities, laboratories and organizations will be hosting TEDxCERN livestreaming parties, including TEDxAthens in Greece, the Indian Institute of Technology in Bombay, Università di Pavia in Italy, Kathmandu University in Nepal, the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory in the United States, and even TED HQ here in New York! Take stock in knowing you’ll be watching along with some of the world’s leading scientists, researchers, and hard thinkers.
Tune in to the TEDxCERN webcast on Friday, May 3rd. It will be available to the public here »
TEDxCERN set-up, in progress. Photo: TEDxCERN