A noble cause

Poignant is the word that comes to mind this week, a week in which we lost the last surviving founding father of CERN, François de Rose, and in which the institute he was instrumental in creating 60 years ago made a significant step towards the further construction of science in Europe, as CERN and ESA signed a new agreement.


With the passing of François de Rose at the age of 103, we have lost a true pioneer, not only of CERN but also of Europe. And we can take pride in the fact that at 60, CERN still lives up to his vision of what Europe can achieve. De Rose was a diplomat, an ambassador, and a President of the CERN Council. He was an inspirational speaker, as we had the opportunity to witness a decade ago when he addressed CERN’s 50th anniversary celebrations. And in a career that spanned the best part of a century, he rubbed shoulders with the likes of Niels Bohr, Pierre Auger, Edoardo Amaldi and Robert Oppenheimer. It’s true to say that with the loss of a parent, the child comes of age. This week CERN came of age.

Like any dutiful child, the best way to deal with the passing of a parent is to do things that would have made that parent proud, and I’d like to think that our new agreement with ESA is something that François de Rose would have looked kindly upon. CERN and ESA are sister organisations in many respects. The vision that led to our creation is the same, and we are both world-leading global scientific institutions with a European soul.  We are both celebrating significant anniversaries this year: 60 for CERN, 50 for ESA. In our science, we address the same great mysteries: at CERN by studying the very small, at ESA the very large. And in our technologies, we have similar challenges. This new agreement opens the door to closer collaboration across all areas of common interest.

To conclude my message this week, I’d like to give the last word to François de Rose, who said in 2004: “CERN is one of the achievements with which I am the most proud to have been associated. I am still very attached to the Organization, not only because of the many friends I've made there but also because it is such a noble cause.”

Rolf Heuer

For those who missed the Director General's message last week, you can find it here.