Brussels, 04 Nov 2005
Concerned that the long timescale of particle physics experiments and the complexity of associated research programmes are delaying the advancement of particle physics, the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN) is to draw up a strategy for the field on behalf of Europe.
Particle physics is the study of the fundamental constituents of matter and the forces of nature. The more that is known about the structure of the material universe, the clearer it becomes that there is still much to learn: from recent discoveries, scientists know that ordinary matter accounts for just four per cent of the energy content of the universe. New programmes are being prepared to explore this new domain, to understand its nature, and how it relates to what is known and familiar.
New research is covering fundamental physics on a number of scales, from the sub-nuclear to the cosmological, and involves activities from theoretical studies to large experimental endeavours requiring collaboration across continents. These new research are formulating increasing demands for expensive research infrastructures.
The strategy will address a range of fields, including accelerator-based and non-accelerator based particle physics, research for novel accelerators and detector technologies. It will also address how to promote coordinated European participation in international projects, encourage knowledge transfer, foster increased collaboration in Europe and increase the visibility of Particle Physics in Europe.
CERN believes that both the scientific community and governments need to enter into an open debate on priorities, and decided that, due to the complexity of the initiatives, common challenges might be better dealt with through the establishment of a comprehensive European research strategy and associated priorities. Also, with so many next-generation facilities being funded, designed, built, and operated as global-scale collaborations, this European strategy needs to be consistent with the emerging strategies for these areas in the Americas and Asia
CERN has adopted the traditional role of an international organisation in this process, providing a forum to arrive at agreements between governments on issues where international consistency is desirable. A Strategy Group has been appointed, and will present draft document at a council meeting in July 2006.
At present, CERN's member countries are Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, the Slovak Republic, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. India, Israel, Japan, the Russian Federation, the United States of America, Turkey, the European Commission and UNESCO have observer status.