European atom-smashers consider Russia's invasion

The Geneva-area research centre that houses the largest atom smasher in the world is trying to figure out how to punish Russia's government and protect Russian scientists who are helping to solve the deepest mysteries.

European atom-smashers consider Russia's invasion

CERN is the historical acronym for the European Organization for Nuclear Research. Its mission is to promote collaboration between its 23 member nations and the world. An associate member state in the war in Ukraine has led the organization to try to determine its response to join international actions against Russia . Before the invasion, Russia was an official CERN observer.

Nearly 7% of the 18,000 CERN researchers are Russian-affiliated scientists. Most, but not all, are Russian. It could hinder or complicate future projects that involve the Large Hadron Collider, which is the largest and most powerful particle accelerator in the world, if they are not allowed to participate in experiments and other research.

This week's crucial decision by CERN's governing board is looming. The collider will re-open in April following a hiatus lasting more than three decades, which was partly caused by the coronavirus epidemic. The collider needs to be paused frequently, and the next run will likely generate huge amounts new data.

"What kinds of projects are the Russians involved here in CERN?" It is essentially in all that we do," Joachim Mnich (director for research and computing) said. "We are in talks with the council to figure out a solution: Punish the Russian government as much as possible. But we are not punishing our coworkers."

The accelerator's next operation, which will produce new data this summer, is only the third round of experiments in its collider. A first run was from 2010 to 2012 and another from 2015 to 2018. The April run is expected to continue until 2026.

CERN Council, the governing body of CERN, condemned the invasion of Ukraine on March 8 and suspended all future collaborations with Russia. It expressed support for Russian scientists that "reject this invasion" as well as stripped Russia of its observer status.

CERN is managed by 22 European countries, Israel and other member states. The United States, Japan, and the European Union are observers. Ukraine is one of seven countries that have associate member status.

Russian scientists are part of a project to build the "high-luminosity phase" of the collider. This should increase its performance by 2027, CERN reports. It will also generate huge amounts of new data.

Mnich stated that the Russians are currently working on physics analysis and computing as well as operation, construction, and design of new detectors to catch protons after they have been smashed together.

Two-thirds of the Russian staff are involved in an experiment called NA64. It involves launching a powerful electron beam onto a target and searching for unknown particles.

CERN's accelerator is also used in another experiment. This propels particles through a 27-kilometer (17 mile) underground ring of superconducting magnetics around Geneva. Synthetic crystals are used to split and deflect beams. Mnich stated that nearly half of the researchers are Russian.

He said that another project to study the inner structure of neutrons and protons has components that were "delivered" by Russian colleagues.

They are here. They arrived last year. They're installed. Mnich stated that we may have difficulties operating the detectors if Russian colleagues are not able to visit CERN as planned in future."

He said, "We aren't sending anyone home." "We do our best to keep them here but it is very difficult for us."


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