Ken Pounds, chief executive of the Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council, has called for a Pounds 60 million fund to help it meet its financial obligations to Cern, the particle physics laboratory in Geneva.
He told the House of Commons select committee on science and technology that Cern member countries and physicists at home are hoping for a minimum contribution of Pounds 130 million from the United Kingdom towards the building of the Large Hadron Collider. The Pounds 2 billion project will be the world's principal research effort in sub-atomic particle physics.
From 1997/98, the building of two massive particle detectors called Atlas and CMS at the collider will involve PPARC in significant expenditure. They will cost the member states around Pounds 1.5 billion. The council is expecting these outlays to far outstrip what it can afford. In 1997/98 the gap will be a few million, rising yearly to peak at around Pounds 10 million in 2000.
Professor Pounds estimates that an extra Pounds 60 million will be needed by the council over six to eight years. He sees little option to setting up a special Pounds 60 million pool of new money to meet this expenditure. He hopes this can be provided by Government and says that the particle physics community does not envisage taking part in another programme of similar magnitude for the next 20 years.
Work planned for the collider includes a search for the Higgs particle which may be responsible for the way in which some particles experience mass.
Professor Pounds stressed that the idea of a special fund had not yet been formally proposed to PPARC's council or the Office of Science and Technology.