CERN chief hopes for greater participation at the facility from Indians

Rolf-Dieter Heuer, German particle physicist and director-general of CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, said on Saturday that he hoped for increased participation from Indian industry and academia in ongoing projects at the Geneva-based research facility.

This, he said, would only be possible when India became an associate member. Alluding to India’s pending application for membership, he said: “We are getting closer to that, as India is very eager.”

This step, he added, would allow for more fellowships and research collaborations.

Landmark discovery

Prof. Heuer spoke to reporters after delivering the C.V. Raman Memorial Lecture on ‘The search of a deeper understanding of our universe at the world’s largest particle accelerator’, here. A packed audience at the Indian Institute of Science hung on to every word as the 64-year-old scientist took them through a detailed presentation on the work that led to the landmark discovery of the Higgs Boson particle at the large hadron collider (LHC).

The audience got a rare ringside view of the gargantuan facility, including the LHC, which was shut down this Thursday and will remain closed for maintenance till 2015.

Underlining the significance of the “historic discovery” last July, he said the data collected over the past two years, and the project ahead, would answer fundamental questions on dark matter and dark energy, phenomena that have baffled scientists for centuries.

“We are just now at the beginning of exploring 93 per cent of the universe — and let’s say the future is bright in the dark universe.”

After his hour-long lecture, interspersed with humour and deep insights, students threw a volley of questions at him, ranging from the ‘god particle’s’ relation with ‘god’ to specific questions on research.

Batting for Bose

Later, speaking to reporters about the “Indian connection” at CERN, he said researchers and work from India were of “very high quality”. Nearly 200 scientists, a majority of them experimental scientists, work at CERN, he said, adding that many more played an important role in crucial fields such as magnet testing.

Desisting comparisons with China, as he wittily confessed that he must don his diplomat hat, he said there was a lot to be proud of in Indian science and research. “I’m often asked why S.N. Bose never got a Nobel Prize. I tell them that a bigger recognition is the fact that every physicist today knows his work. Besides Fermi, he is the only scientist who has a particle named after him. So, the history of Indian science is good, and so will be the future.”

Correction

This article has been corrected for an error