(Photo by Diana Rogers)
by Jonathan Dorfan
I recently spent a fascinating hour with Jeremy Webb,
editor of New Scientist magazine. It was his first visit to SLAC
and we discussed the present and future programs of our laboratory. His
comments at the end of the interview made me reflect on the changing
nature of research at SLAC and, indeed, in big science worldwide.
What struck Webb is the strong international theme and the
large involvement of international scientists in our research programs. He
had always considered SLAC to be an American laboratory providing research
opportunities for the domestic physics community – what he found was a
laboratory that is a leader in promoting and supporting international
participation in large-scale science.
It is true that there has been a substantial transition in
numbers and nationalities of SLAC researchers over the last 10 years. The
number of researchers using our facilities – "users" as we affectionately
call them – has increased from 900 in 1993 to over 3000 in 2001, with over
1300 coming from overseas. Scientists from more than 20 nations come to
SLAC to carry out their research.
is a truly international experiment and probably has the largest foreign
participation of any high energy physics experiment in the U.S. In the
same vein, the Gamma Ray Large Area
Space Telescope (GLAST) has participating
institutes from five nations.
This internationalization is not limited to the astro- and
high energy physics programs, but also characterizes the way Synchrotron
Radiation research has developed at SLAC. This year, 500
SSRL users came
from overseas. With next year’s installation of the SPEAR3 upgrade to our
light source, foreign participation will likely grow even larger. Another
example of this trend is the recent signing of a Memorandum of
Understanding between DESY and SSRL for mutual support in the research and
development for x-ray free electron lasers.
The advantages of international collaboration in
fundamental research are clear. Pooling resources, and more importantly
brainpower, is the most efficient and responsible way to succeed in big
science projects. Realizing a linear collider project presents special
challenges that require the international community to invent a new
paradigm for worldwide science collaboration. This accelerator complex and
its associated detectors will be a fully international facility from its
inception, one without ownership by any one nation or region.
SLAC is playing a leading role in working with its
partners in the U.S., Europe and Asia and with governments worldwide to
develop this paradigm. As the only laboratory to have built and operated a
linear collider, we also have a lot to offer in the finalization of the
machine design. Coordination of this activity is the responsibility of the
International Committee of Future Accelerators (ICFA), a group of experts
from all regions of the world who meet several times each year. In
October, I was honored to be named as the next chairman of ICFA, taking
over this role from Hirotaka Sugawara (KEK) in January 2003.
SLAC is at the forefront of the international cooperation
in discovery-oriented science, which particularly befits a school of
Stanford University, whose students are drawn from all nations of the
world and whose renown is established worldwide.
As you see on the front page, Secretary Abraham visited
SLAC on November 25. It was an excellent visit. He particularly enjoyed
the tour, and he, like Webb, was struck by the high numbers of young
researchers from overseas working at SLAC. He asked me to pass on his
thanks to all of the SLAC staff for a memorable visit – he especially
noted the excitement and commitment you all exude.