CERN teams will have to do without the recognized expertise of Russian physicists from 2024.
At the 208th meeting of the Council of the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN), the institution made the decision not to renew the cooperation agreement that binds him to the Russian government. The laboratory’s collaboration with the Kremlin will therefore end in just over two years.
This decision is a new direct reaction to the invasion of Ukraine by Russia, which the high authorities of CERN have been strongly denouncing for several months. Last March, the institution had already announced in a communiqué that it would not launch any new project in collaboration with Russia before the end of the crisis.
As a reminder, CERN is the result of collaboration on a European scale. It brings together 23 countries that have united to push particle physics to its limits. This leading work has led to some spectacular finds, the most famous of which is certainly the discovery of the Higgs boson in 2012.
A usually tacit agreement called into question by the war
But member countries are not the only ones working with CERN. The institution also collaborates with non-European countries such as Russia within the framework of international cooperation agreements. As a rule, these agreements are rrenewed tacitly and more or less automatically. But this time, CERN issued a notice of termination. Cooperation with Russia will therefore end at the end of the agreement currently in force, which runs until December 2024.
“CERN was founded after World War II to unite nations in search of peaceful science”, explains the press release. “Member States recall that the values of the organization have always been based on scientific collaboration as the engine of peace, and insist that the aggression of one country by another runs counter to these values”.
The end of decades of productive collaboration
Once again, scientific progress finds itself sacrificed on the altar of war. The end of this collaboration after several decades of joint efforts is all the more regrettable as the Russian contingent has recognized expertise in fundamental physics.
“Vigorous scientific and technological collaboration has existed between CERN and the former Soviet Union for almost thirty years. […] Russian research institutes and physicists are major contributors to many CERN experiments”, can we read in the original text of the agreement dating from 1993.
The timing is also unfortunate. The end of this collaboration will indeed occur in the middle of the third major series of experiments of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), the famous particle accelerator which made it possible to detect the famous Higgs Boson.
For four years, the updated version of this engineering gem will torture the standard model of fundamental physics in search of the secrets of elementary particles. But he will have to do without Russian contributions during the second half of this important period. It now remains only to hope that this collaboration will resume once the dust has settled.