Lyn Evans has spent most of his career at Cern, which this week marked its 50th anniversary. Dr Evans will take the particle physics laboratory into its next half-century and will oversee the construction of an underground machine that promises to unravel the secrets of the universe.
The lab was set up near Geneva by 12 European nations in 1954.
Just nine years earlier these nations had been at war.
Dr Evans, who describes himself as a lad from the Welsh valleys, joined on a two-year research fellowship in 1969. Thirty-five years later, he is in charge of building the world's biggest particle accelerator, the £1 billion Large Hadron Collider.
The collider is housed in a km tunnel and will allow researchers to smash particles together to try to recreate conditions less than a billionth of a second before the Big Bang. It is due to be completed in 2007.
"Why do I care?" Dr Evans asks. "It's a slippery slope when we stop asking the most esoteric questions of the universe. It's true that it is more and more difficult to prise the last secrets out of nature. But it's also true that the whole world is involved."
Cern now has 20 member states and input from US, Japanese, Indian, Turkish, Russian and Israeli scientists.
Dr Evans said that the building of Cern "was a tremendous political act.
All those hard-earned resources have been brought together to give Europe a first-class facility".
Dr Evans sees the LHC echoing the founding principles of Cern by uniting nations in scientific research. "The LHC is like the United Nations," he mused.~
Lyn Evans, a veteran of Europe's most famous physics laboratory, celebrates Cern's 50th anniversary