The European Organization for Nuclear Research (French: Organisation européenne pour la recherche nucléaire), known as CERN, is an international organization whose purpose is to operate the world’s largest particle physics laboratory, which is situated in the northwest suburbs of Geneva on the Franco–Swiss border. Established in 1954, the organization has twenty European member states.
The term CERN is also used to refer to the laboratory itself, which employs just under 2400 full-time employees, as well as some 7931 scientists and engineers representing 608 universities and research facilities and 113 nationalities.
CERN’s main function is to provide the particle accelerators and other infrastructure needed for high-energy physics research. Numerous experiments have been constructed at CERN by international collaborations to make use of them. It is also the birthplace of the World Wide Web. The main site at Meyrin also has a large computer centre containing very powerful data-processing facilities primarily for experimental data analysis and, because of the need to make them available to researchers elsewhere, has historically been a major wide area networking hub.
The CERN sites, as an international facility, are officially under neither Swiss nor French jurisdiction. Member states’ contributions to CERN for the year 2008 totaled CHF 1 billion (approximately € 664 million)