Geneva, 20 June 2003. The CERN1 Council, where the representatives of the 20 Member States of the Organization decide on scientific programmes and financial resources, held its 125th session today under the chairmanship of Professor Maurice Bourquin (CH). Highlights of the meeting included confirmation that the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) and its detectors are on schedule for a 2007 start-up, and that the LHC computing grid (LCG) project is about to reach a major milestone.
The Large Hadron Collider
CERN's Director General, Professor Luciano Maiani (IT) underlined a comprehensive review of the status of the LHC project by saying that management is more committed than ever to the current LHC schedule. He said that the major obstacles for the accelerator and detectors have been overcome, and that there is now a clear path to project completion. "All of the problems we encountered in 2002 have been overcome", he said, "although there remain hurdles to overcome, there is no showstopper. We can confirm with fewer reservations than last year that the LHC will start in spring 2007". Professor Maiani drew particular attention to the LCG project, which will make an important step forward in distributed computing technology on 1 July when it deploys an operational computing Grid for the LHC. Negotiations are also underway with the European Union for the "Enabling Grids for E-science in Europe" (EGEE) project, which aims to create a Europe-wide Grid infrastructure by combing the many Grid initiatives across the continent.
CERN Council approved the Medium Term Plan for the years 2004 –2007. Two of CERN's highly successful programmes with fixed targets - using heavy ion beams and neutral kaon beams - will come to an end in 2004. These experiments have, respectively, provided the first evidence for a new state of matter - quark-gluon plasma - and cast light on differences between matter and antimatter through the phenomenon known as CP violation. Other programmes, at the Antiproton Decelerator (AD), the neutron time-of-flight facility (nTOF), and with the COMPASS experiment, will complete their first phase before the accelerators shut down for 2005, but should continue with second generation experiments when the accelerators restart the following year. The work on the CERN Neutrinos to Gran Sasso (CNGS) project is on schedule with the first beam foreseen when the accelerators restart. At lower energies the upgrade of the ISOLDE facility to REX-ISOLDE will provide a large increase in the range of nuclei that can be accelerated. In accelerator R&D much of the emphasis is on a future linear collider, CLIC. The CLIC Test Facility 3 has succeeded in stabilising a quadrupole magnet to 0.5 billionths of a metre (nanometres), a world record that places CLIC test benches among the most stable objects on Earth. The non-LHC scientific programme for beyond 2005 represents a bare minimum, said Professor Maiani, and he encouraged CERN's scientific community to build on it for the future of the Laboratory. Professor Maiani also drew attention to the need to renovate infrastructure, some of which has been providing reliable service since the late 1950s, as an urgent measure necessary for the success of the LHC.
CERN Globe of Innovation
Council unanimously accepted and expressed its gratitude for the generous offer recently made by the Swiss confederation of the "Palais de l'Equilibre", a 27 metre high spherical wooden pavilion that was a key element of Switzerland's national exhibition last year. Due to arrive at CERN at the beginning of 2004, the Palais will become the "CERN Globe of Innovation", enhancing CERN's outreach and technology transfer missions. CERN undertakes to provide its share of the necessary resources to equip and maintain the Globe to provide a focus for public visits to CERN and a centre for technology transfer activity. An iconic structure, the Geneva-designed Globe is set to become a major local landmark.
Council approved the creation of a new category of locally recruited staff as of 1 July to fulfil the Organization's needs for technicians and administrative personnel. This is an important step towards securing the human resources that will be crucial for the completion of the LHC. Local staff will complement outsourced activities that can be managed through result-oriented contracts. The local staff initiative will allow CERN to recruit some 150 new members of personnel over the coming months.
As part of CERN's ongoing restructuring, CERN Council agreed to establish an audit committee at its 124th meeting last March. Chaired by Professor W. Hoogland (NL), the committee's members will be Dr B. Brandt (SE), Dr B.J. Höfer (DE) and Mr M. Pannier (FR). Its role will be to review CERN procedures, especially in finance, and report to Council.
Director General elect, Dr Robert Aymar (FR), presented his proposal for a new organizational structure for CERN from 1 January 2004 when he takes office. His plans are based on a recommendation of the External Review Committee that he chaired in 2001 and 2002. The new structure is intended to ensure continuity and build on existing strengths at CERN, while at the same time implementing changes at the higher levels appropriate to CERN's current objectives. The main features of the structure are short lines of management and a restricted directorate consisting of Dr Aymar, a Chief Scientific Officer, Professor J. J. Engelen (NL), with functions of Deputy Director General, and a Chief Financial Officer, Mr A. J. Naudi (CH/GB). CERN's current Divisions will be regrouped into a smaller number of Departments, while functions including safety, technology transfer and public communication will be moved into the Director General's Office.
Following the granting of Observer Status to India last December, Council welcomed an Indian delegation to its meeting for the first time today. Indian scientists have been actively engaged in the CERN programme since the 1960s. This effort was formalised in a Co-operation Agreement in 1991, extended in 2001 for a further decade. In the framework of the 1996 Protocol signed with the Indian Department of Atomic Energy, India became one of the first non-member states to make significant contributions to the LHC. Indian scientists are also valued members of the ALICE and CMS collaborations, and Indian IT expertise is being put to good use in Grid computing projects through additional protocols signed in 2002. India joins Israel, Japan, the Russian Federation, the United States of America, Turkey, the European Commission and UNESCO as an Observer, enjoying the right to take part on a non-voting basis in all of the Council's meetings.
Professor W. Büchmüller (DE) was re-appointed to the Scientific Policy Committee for a second term of three years from 1 July 2003.