Physicists ready to team up with UBD

National 4 minutes, 8 seconds


THE world’s largest laboratory for fundamental physics, CERN, is ready to collaborate with students at Universiti Brunei Darussalam (UBD) to join in the research and engineering projects.

CERN’s Directorate-General Unit’s Senior Physicist, Professor Emmanuel Tsesmelis, and Physicist and Scientist, Professor Albert De Roeck were here at UBD yesterday for talks with its Vice Chancellor and staff at the Faculty of Science.

Founded in 1954, CERN was one of Europe’s first joint ventures and has become a premier example of international collaboration.

Today, more than 60 years later, CERN is the world’s largest laboratory for fundamental physics, hosting more than 11’000 scientists and engineers from around the world working on its research and engineering projects, according to a statement by UBD.

CERN is based in Switzerland.

Speaking to The Brunei Times, Professor Tsesmelis explained that CERN is the European Organisation for nuclear research, and is an international and inter-governmental organisation for fundamental research, technology, innovation and engineering.

The driving force behind CERN is to do fundamental research in particle physics to further our understanding of the origins of the universe, he said.

However, to be able to achieve their mission, they need to develop the technologies in the particle detectors and the particle accelerators, among others, to be able to carry out that fundamental research.

“This is done through our programmes with institutes and universities and with industry. Also, we need the people, and a lot of them are people who are involved with our projects are of course scientists, but also many students from around the world,’’ he said.

They are currently collaborating with 700 different universities worldwide.

“One of our missions is to also bring people together from different cultures and different countries for the purpose of science,’’ he said.

Asked why they felt Brunei could collaborate with them, Professor Tsesmelis said they have seen the development of particle physics in Southeast Asia in general.

“Many countries have shown interest in collaborating with us in the past five to 10 years, such as Thailand, Indonesia, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore and Malaysia have actually gone that step and are now part of our experiments and projects,’’ he said.

“So, we thought we would pay a visit to Brunei and see the community here and have a first discussion and get to know each other. We knew that there was a research university, UBD, so we though there would be people interested in the research that was going on at CERN, and to develop that collaboration,’’ he added.

Following a meeting with UBD’s Assistant Vice Chancellor, he said he was pleased that they came to Brunei given that UBD is a research university, and what transpired from their meeting was an interest of the staff of the Faculty of Science and the assistant vice chancellor.

“The assistant Vice Chancellor was very supportive of this collaboration. He was indeed very interested in having common education programmes. It was a very wise decision to come and talk here. Perhaps, we can identify common projects of interest, and I think we have done a good job this morning to have that first discussion, and we have already identified certain areas in applied science in particular, where we could collaborate,’’ he said.

He said they would like to have a particle physics group, or have one developed here in Brunei.

Professor Tsesmelis said CERN also has a summer student programme, where they welcome students from around the world. “We have around 250 of them every year and so we would like to see students from UBD come over. This is something we can work out starting this year or the next, and having programmes here in Brunei for neighbouring countries where the students can attend as well.” He feels that there are probably students in Brunei who can contribute to furthering the scientific causes of CERN, and also the more established research community.

“We see in the future, very much the economic development of the country depends on its ability to develop science and technology. Particle physics research is one way to bring that science and technology,’’ he explained.

What they need to underpin now is a group that is going to get engaged with particle physics research.

He said once this group is established, they will be the drivers from UBD for anything that develops in the future.

“We will hopefully sign an agreement shortly to get people involved from UBD in CERN, starting with students,’’ he said.

He said if UBD signed the collaboration, they would become full members of that collaboration. This means any research or findings published by those from UBD will be credited to the researcher, with an affiliation credit to UBD.

Professor Tsesmelis said CERN is just the physical location of where the experiments take place.

“CERN has the responsibility of hosting the accelerators, detectors and central part of the computing. Someone has to provide the infrastructures and facilities to do that research.”

The Brunei Times