The world’s largest atom smasher has set a new record for high-energy atom collisions – with three times more force than ever before.

I had no idea it was pronounced “Kern” … I thought it was “Sern.”


  1. #1 NewEnglandBob
    March 30, 2010

    SERN. I see FOUR lights!

  2. #2 Winter Toad
    March 30, 2010

    I pronounced it with a soft ‘C’ sound when I worked there, and was never corrected. In fact, we pronounced it something that, in English, would be roughly “SAIRN” (but with a rounder vowel sound than would be used by an English speaker from North America). The neighbourhood is French-speaking, and the common languages of the labs were English and French. We pronounced CERN according to the way one might pronounce it in French, as the acronym itself is built out of the French name for the lab.

    “SERN” sounds a bit weird to me, like what we called in Montreal an “algicisme”, a word incorrectly transliterated from English. “KERN” would not even pass my parsers, I’d fail to recognize what the speaker was trying to say.

  3. #3 John Moeller
    March 30, 2010

    I don’t think it’s pronounced “kern.” I think the ‘C’ stands for “Centre.”

  4. #4 Greg Laden
    March 30, 2010

    So, is this video yet another example of content-confused babble coming from the LHC that could have been done better and that we hope does not represent the quality of the engineering, physics, data collection and analysis at this very expensive and important facility?

    Or is it bad reporting?

    Or is it reporting that could have been better if c/kern had better press machinery.

  5. #5 Phillip IV
    March 30, 2010

    There’s a huge argument about the correct pronunciation – some say it should be “Sern”, because it’s “C” ahead of “E”, but others argue that it’s only an abbreviation, and in the full name the “C” is followed by an “O”, so it should retain the K-sound even in the abbreviated version.


  6. #6 student_b
    March 30, 2010

    Since CERN once was the abbreviation of Centre Européane pour la Rechearche Nucléaire (or something like that, my french sucks) it’s pronounced the same as the french word centre (center) with the soft c (which sounds like an s).

    With a hard k instead of a s it sounds extremely silly.

  7. #7 Brit
    March 30, 2010

    Always thought it was “Sern” as well. And also I’m now unsure about “Hadron” too.

    I pronounce it the way we did in this video:

    But others seem to say “ha” as in hat.

  8. #8 Winter Toad
    March 30, 2010

    student_b: actually, the ‘C’ in CERN stands for “conseil”. That’s pronounced with a hard ‘c’. However, I’ve never heard “KERN” or “KAIRN” when the name of the lab was used in a conversation being held in French.

  9. #9 Ivan
    March 30, 2010

    So… the folks at ITN don’t know how to pronounce CERN and have no clue about the difference between force and energy.

    And this fucks up the reputation of the research that goes on at CERN exactly how?

  10. #10 MadScientist
    March 30, 2010

    That’s “Sern” since it’s the Centre Europeenne pour la Recherche Nucleaire.

  11. #11 MadScientist
    March 30, 2010

    Oops … missed Winter Toad’s post. I thought it was “Centre” but “Conseil” sounds more reasonable since there is no actual center – the consortium has numerous laboratories. Bah, I’ll steer clear and pronounce it as if it were Italian.

  12. #12 A
    March 31, 2010

    Why didn’t you link to CERN directly: or

    -> Link to latest Videos and Animations?

    It is certainly not KERN
    (but Conseil Europeen pour la Recherche Nucleaire
    [European Council for Nuclear Research]
    and the abbreviation was later adopted as name for the Laboratory

  13. #13 Greg Laden
    March 31, 2010

    A: Thanks for the links, they are now up and running in current blog posts.

  14. #14 Kris
    March 31, 2010

    The “C” is like the “C” in Celtic and NOT the team.

  15. #15 momkat
    March 31, 2010

    CERN Director General Rolf Heuer pronounces it with a soft C. in a video on the CERN website. Certainly more reliable than a British reporter.

  16. #16 andy
    March 31, 2010

    KERN? It’s a conspiracy, I tell you!!!

  17. #17 Marion
    April 23, 2011

    C like s. e like bear. Go here and click on the arrow at the left of “pronunciation”