The LHC, A world project

Since the mid-1980s the number of scientists from all over the world using CERN1's facilities has increased enormously. Currently more than 6,000 users, over half of the planet's high-energy physicists, carry out fundamental research at CERN. This user community is living proof that CERN welcomes inter- regional collaboration which benefits all and boosts the progress of science. The LHC, the only machine capable of addressing problems way beyond today's frontiers of high energy physics, offers an unique opportunity for extending world wide collaboration. The door is open for non-Member States to become partners in the final design, construction and exploitation of the LHC machine and its experiments. CERN's governing body, the Council, is receptive to the idea of offering a voice in LHC decision-making to countries which provide substantial contributions. Such a 'globalization' of the LHC project would establish a precedent for future megascience projects, not only in particle physics but also in other fields.
While welcoming world interest in the LHC project, Council has stated that involvement of physicists from outside the Member States 'should be on the understanding that usage on a significant scale must involve the provision of resources to suit both CERN and the individual non-Member State concerned'. This is, regrettably, a departure from the 'free access' policy drawn up in 1980 by the International Committee for Future Accelerators (ICFA). However, that policy was based on the expectation of an approximately balanced cross-use of world facilities, which is no longer the case. For example, American-based particle physicists doing their research in Europe, at CERN, DESY in Hamburg and the Gran Sasso in Italy, currently outnumber European-based particle physicists working in the US by more than four to one.

Following the cancellation of the Superconducting Super Collider (SSC) in the US, the reservoir of scientific skill and experience amongst those working on that project could be very productively channelled towards CERN. Early this year a special sub-panel of the US High Energy Physics Advisory Panel (HEPAP), chaired by Sidney Drell, Associate Director of the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center, was charged with examining the possible future options for US particle physics and international collaboration, following the SSC cancellation. The sub-panel reported in late May, after which HEPAP made recommendations to the Secretary of State for Energy, Hazel O'Leary, in time for her to propose measures to the US Congress in early July 1994 to follow the cancellation of the SSC.

The sub-panel's final report, released 23 May, sees the LHC as opening windows to discovery at the highest energy frontiers and concludes it is essential that the USA should participate - not only to provide US scientists and engineers with world-class experience, but also to keep the USA at the forefront of proton accelerator technologies in the longer term. The subpanel recommends that the "US Government declare its intention to join other nations constructing the LHC at CERN and initiate negotiations towards that goal". The subpanel foresees US expenditures on LHC-related work starting slowly ($5- 10M) in 1995 and rising thereafter with a potential total contribution of ~ $400M by the time the LHC is built. Most would be through "in-kind' contributions, for example, to magnets and detectors. While the recommendation is linked to a request for additional short-term investment in US national facilities, the LHC is seen as sufficiently important that it should be supported even if the US budget for High Energy Physics remains flat. One key to forging a successful collaboration will be to agree the terms swiftly so that US collaborators can bring their expertise and specific interests into the design phase of the LHC. CERN looks forward to working in partnership with its American colleagues with whom it has collaborated so successfully and enjoyably in the past.

In Canada too, recent decisions have reconsidered plans for national particle physics research facilities, proposing instead more international collaboration. The Canadian Government announced in March that it was abandoning its Kaon project, which was to have been a 'particle factory' based on an extension of the TRIUMF (Tri-University Meson Facility) in British Columbia. This opens the way to strengthening Canada's role in particle physics through collaboration with CERN on the LHC.

Some 80 Japanese physicists are already registered at CERN and positive contacts have been established between CERN and the Japanese government. However, it is expected that Japan will decide on participation only after a final decision has been taken by CERN Council on whether to go ahead with the LHC.

The Russian Federation has been an observer at CERN since 1991, and in 1993 declared an interest in becoming a full member. Following this, it has signed a scientific and technological cooperation agreement with CERN, which prepares the way for membership. With over 400 scientists registered at CERN, the Russian Federation already plays a prominent role in the work of the Laboratory. Russia has also pledged its support for CERN's plans to construct the LHC. However, Russia's ability to participate fully is likely to remain constrained by economic difficulties in the immediate future.

The LHC may become the first ever world-wide science initiative. As well as the countries mentioned above, where discussions are already well advanced, Korea, India, Australia, China, Brazil, Pakistan, Israel.... are also interested in collaborating on the LHC. The foundation of CERN in the post- war years set a precedent in uniting the nations of Europe to carry out high quality 'Big Science' research. The LHC now offers the exciting opportunity of establishing a model for future world-wide collaboration in 'Big Science'.

Footnote(s)

1. CERN, the European Laboratory for Particle Physics, has its headquarters in Geneva. At present, its Member States are Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, the Slovak Republic, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. Israel, the Russian Federation, Turkey, Yugoslavia (status suspended after UN embargo, June 1992), the European Commission and Unesco have observer status.

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