The CERN1 Council, where the representatives of the 19 Member States of the Organization decide on scientific programmes and financial resources, held its 108th session today under the chairmanship of Prof. Luciano Maiani (IT).
Director General's Report on scientific activities
Reporting on the Laboratory's physics programme, the Director-General congratulated staff on the excellent start-up of the accelerators this year. Performance has improved so much that proton-beam experiments can now collect data twice as fast as in 1994. This very promising start was brought to a halt by a fire which broke out on 13 May in a power supply for the Super Proton Synchrotron. Cleaning up the corrosive soot is a complex and lengthy operation and the accelerators will restart at the end of July; a delay of 2 months. The physics programme for 1997-8 has been extensively reprogrammed so that the flagship LEP programme will lose only one of the 32 scheduled weeks of running, although other programmes have suffered.
The Director-General pointed out that due to better than expected performance from LEP's accelerating system, higher energy is possible from 1999, opening up new discovery potential. This further strengthens the compelling case to run the accelerator for an extra year in 2000, before the unavoidable closure due to LHC construction. Several Member States expressed their willingness to consider making additional financial contributions to allow this exciting possibility to be realized. He also mentioned the ground-breaking proposal of sending a beam of weakly interacting neutrino particles from CERN through the Earth to the Gran Sasso laboratory near Rome.
Non-Member State issues
The Director-General reported on the current situation regarding non-Member States' contributions to the LHC project. Agreements have been signed with India, Israel, Russia, and the TRIUMF Laboratory in Canada. In December 1996 Japan announced a second contribution to the LHC of 3.85 BYen bringing the combined contributions to 8.85 BYen (~ 100MCHF). The Director-General outlined recent developments in the negotiation of a contribution from the USA to the LHC. Agreement was reached during 1996 with the Department of Energy (DOE) and the National Science Foundation (NSF), subject to approval by the National Science Board (NSB), which was given in May 1997. Approval of funding is now in the hands of Congress. The first reactions of the US Congress indicated the need to clarify the agreement and make various previously implicit points explicit. The CERN Council approved the revised text and reconfirmed its approval of the complete agreement, which it now considers final. Council now hopes that the necessary funding will be approved by Congress in the near future. Prof Llewellyn Smith said "The agreement will allow the LHC and its outstanding detectors to be constructed on a faster timetable. Our US colleagues have already made major intellectual contributions and we look forward to a dynamic symbiosis of European and American experience in Particle Physics. The final signing of this agreement will mark an important advance in inter-regional science collaboration."
The constant demands in particle physics research for exceptional technological performance has made it a rich seed-bed for new technologies. The efficient transfer of such new technologies from the Laboratory to European industry has always been a priority for CERN. New steps have now been taken by CERN to strengthen technology transfer which were explained to Council by Research and Technology Director, Dr Horst Wenninger. CERN has set up a new Technology Advisory Board and a special seminar on technology transfer will take place at CERN in November 1997 with participants from industry and other leading scientific institutes. Dr Wenninger stressed the importance of technology transfer through people. Highly trained young scientists who have benefited from experience at CERN and probably taken part in CERN's Technology, Accelerator and Computing Schools are fed back into the business community. Over 50 % of PhD students at CERN go on to work in industry. He pointed out many examples of successful technology transfer from CERN, ranging from advances in superconductivity to computer software developed at CERN for administrative services, which are attracting the interest of industry and the banking community.
Open presentation to CERN Council Delegates by Professor Carlo Rubbia
Prof. Rubbia reported the main results of studies performed at CERN over the last three years on the potential impact of new accelerator technologies in the field of energy production from nuclei. He outlined the possibilities of using an accelerator driven "Energy Amplifier" to eliminate unwanted long-lived, radioactive waste, eventually produce energy in non-critical conditions, and as a substitute for reactors for the neutron activation of short-lived radioactive elements for industrial and medical applications.