This year CERN celebrated its 60 years anniversary under the slogan “science for peace”. Among the many events organized by a number of CERN Member States (view the CERN 60 website and photographs of the events, there were scientific colloquia also at CERN (https://indico.cern.ch/category/5771/) organized throughout the year. One colloquium, covering the history of the Large Electron Positron collider [LEP] era and held during the September meeting of the CERN Scientific Policy Committee was dedicated to Herwig Schopper, who celebrated his 90th birthday this year.
Herwig Schopper, former President of the EPS (1994 to 1996) and Director General of CERN from 1981 to 1988, had indeed helped to open up CERN during LEP times for a growing scientific community from all over the world, independent of national or political considerations, thus contributing greatly to the idea of “science for peace”, which is a key element of CERN collaborations on scientific programs. Moreover, in 1999 Herwig Schopper initiated the foundation in the Middle East of the International Center for Synchrotron Radiation [SESAME]1 located in Jordan and started – as did CERN in Geneva – under the patronage of UNESCO.
During the colloquium on the LEP era Herwig Schopper talked about his life as a physicist, and his first visit at CERN participating in the famous 1958 Rochester Conference. The title of his presentation “It is the spirit that counts – people at and around CERN“ was much appreciated by the audience, which included old friends and colleagues, former members of the CERN Scientific Policy Committee, who as every year participated in the September meeting of the SPC at CERN.
The many anecdotes presented during his talk around the approval, construction and commissioning of LEP are well described in his book “LEP : The Lord of Collider Rings”2. In his talk he focused on the human behaviour and relations, equally important for success. He concluded that the decade of the ‘80s had deep and long-lasting consequences for the future of CERN where a new culture of international collaboration was born, based on equal partners, no hierarchical structure, which continued at LHC with strong participation by Non-Member States, and the first elements for a World Laboratory. Now CERN has been recognized by the UN and is represented in the UN Scientific Advisory Committee. This demonstrates, according to Herwig Schopper, that relations between physicists radiate into politics.
- Member States of SESAME: Bahrain, Cyprus, Egypt, Iran, Israel, Jordan, the Palestinian Authority, Pakistan, Turkey
- LEP – The Lord of the Collider Rings at CERN 1980-2000: The Making, Operation and Legacy of the World’s Largest Scientific Instrument Hardcover – June 16, 2009 by Herwig Schopper
ISBN-13: 978-3540893004 ISBN-10: 3540893008 Edition: 2009th