During the Second World War, the Manhattan A-bomb project was the first case of a major scientific collaboration supported by large facilities. It marked the beginning of what is now called Big Science, a term coined in 1961 by the nuclear physicist Alvin Weinberg—then director of the Oak Ridge National Laboratory— when he wrote in Science that the 20th century would be remembered as the century of science and technology; and that, just as other eras left us the pyramids of Egypt or medieval cathedrals as symbols of the societies of the time, the 20th century would leave us the monuments of Big Science, built “in the name of scientific truth”. Since then, Big Science has made it possible to tackle some of the greatest scientific challenges in history and has led to the construction of a handful of major facilities. Here we take a look at some of these scientific cathedrals of our era.
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