Russians Ban New Large Hadron Collider Experiments Over Ukraine Invasion
CERN Council met today to discuss how Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is affecting the ability of scientific collaboration to pursue its goals and ensure the safety and well-being of its members. The council meeting resulted in a resolution condemning the Russian invasion, suspending Russia’s observer status with the council, and not starting new collaborations with Russian institutions. The council also deplored “the involvement of Belarus in this illegal use of force against Ukraine”.
The European Organization for Nuclear Research, known as CERN, is an international collaboration that operates a huge particle physics research facility near Geneva, Switzerland, whose flagship project is the Large Hadron Collider. The CERN Council is made up of two delegates from each of the 23 member states of the collaboration. Russia was one of five entities with observer status at CERN; the others are the United States, Japan, the European Union, the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research (located in Russia) and UNESCO.
Ukraine has been an Associate Member State of CERN since 2016. The collaboration has many Ukrainian and Russian scientists involved in its many projects. The Council resolution stated that “CERN will encourage initiatives aimed at supporting Ukrainian collaborators and Ukrainian scientific activity in the field of high energy physics”.
This week, an open letter signed by Russian scientists involved in CERN experiments circulated online. The letter stated: “We would like to express our sadness and regret at what is happening in Ukraine. We oppose the military actions launched in Ukraine by the authorities of [the] Russian Federation. We are firmly resolved to resolve the conflict through diplomacy and negotiations as the only appropriate means. »
For now, the council said collaboration between CERN and the Russian scientific community will continue on ongoing projects, although this may change depending on how events develop.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has complicated a number of international scientific projects. Roscosmos announced that it would stop delivering rocket engines to the United States and stop collaborating with Germany on required maintenance of the International Space Station. This week, NASA astronaut Scott Kelly had a bitter exchange with Roscosmos chief Dmitry Rogozin on Twitter. ExoMars, a collaboration between the European Space Agency and Roscosmos (the Russian space agency) has delayed the launch of its Rosalind Franklin rover, which was due to leave for Mars in September. Because Mars launch windows are semi-annual (due to planetary orbits), that means we could see humans on the Moon again before Rosalind Franklin even leaves the ground.
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