CERN keen on taking India on board

Subhra Priyadarshini

doi:10.1038/nindia.2012.101 Published online 13 July 2012

Rolf-Dieter Heuer says CERN is keen that India bid for projects at the particle physics lab.

© Subhra Priyadarshini

High on the recent discovery of the Higgs boson, or something consistent with it, Europe's high profile particle physics laboratory CERN is keen on expanding membership to countries beyond Europe, including India.

CERN Director General Rolf-Dieter Heuer told Nature India on the sidelines of the European Science Open Forum, 2012 currently underway in Dublin, Ireland that he has had several discussions with India's Atomic Energy Commission regarding bringing India on board as an associate member at CERN.

"We also made a presentation to President Pratibha Patil during her visit to CERN last year about this. We think India has a lot of potential in the brains department and we would love to have the country participate in CERN", he said.

To become an associate member of CERN and to be able to bid for its various projects, India will have to commit close to 10 million Swiss francs. Heuer said making such a large financial commitment might be the only thing stopping India from going ahead.

"Otherwise, I think the contribution of India to this kind of research is immense and is growing by the day. We have a number of Indian scientists in our experiments and our teams — both ATLAS and CMS — are very proud of their work", he added.

Earlier, at a press conference, Heuer said that after the pathbreaking discovery of a Higgs boson, the 'E' in CERN should now evolve from 'European' to 'Everywhere' in order to embrace as many non-European states as possible.

"We will accept members from everywhere. Our science is a science of the longer term. We would benefit from the collective knowledge of a number of member states", he said.

India has actively participated in CERN's accelerator technologies, computing, ALICE (A Large Ion Collider Experiment) and CMS (Compact Muon Solenoid) experiments as well as its theoretical physics programmes.

Indian scientists from the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Mumbai and Kolkata-based Saha Institute of Nuclear Physics and the Variable Energy Cyclotron Centre, Delhi University and Punjab University contributed to the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) experiments. They have been studying the properties of particles generated by the much-hyped proton-proton collisions at LHC start up, to look for answers to questions like the origin of the universe and properties of quark-gluon plasma.