The Globe at CERN. <em>Photo: Maximilien Brice, Claudia Marcelloni, CERN</em>
Beacons of Discovery
Ultimately, a shared and passionate vision is the beacon that draws collaborators together in a common scientific purpose

The Globe at CERN. Photo: Maximilien Brice, Claudia Marcelloni, CERN

A global vision

Deep in our human nature is the drive to understand the world around us. From stone tools to powerful computers, from the simplest observations of the natural world to today’s advanced science and technology, the exploration and creation of knowledge have drawn us forward and transformed our existence.

Yet even now, with all the advances we have made, we have a dramatic lack of understanding of the basic physical laws that govern our universe. Profound questions, sounding almost theological in nature, both bedevil and inspire us. The answers to at least some of these questions now appear to be on the horizon, as the world of particle physics comes together to make use of the most powerful set of scientific tools ever assembled. Will a grand synthesis emerge, as in the case of quantum mechanics in the early 20th century, to resolve all these mysteries in a revolutionary new framework? Or will we encounter yet more fundamental questions behind the ones we know today, beacons to more distant horizons?

The precision operations of the hugely complex detectors built for CERN’s Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland seem almost miraculous when we remember that scientists from institutes in dozens of countries designed, built and contributed the thousands of different detector comp