FAIR appraisal of city science centres


By Anasuya Basu in Calcutta
  • Published 17.10.17
Paolo Giubellino, scientific managing director, FAIR.

Calcutta: Science institutes in the city got a thumbs up recently from the chief of one of the world's mega science projects, Facility for Antiproton and Ion Research (FAIR) in Germany.

"Why do students from here go abroad to study when you have such fantastic institutes like the Variable Electron Cyclotron Centre (VECC) and the Bose Institute doing excellent work? They are in the same league as MIT and Oxford, doing cutting edge work in science and are at the frontiers of technology," said Paolo Giubellino, scientific managing director, FAIR. Giubellino was in the city to update all participating institutes - VECC, Bose Institute, Calcutta University among others - on the status and progress of work at FAIR. FAIR is the newest accelerator facility for research with antiprotons and ions and boasts a large number of contributors from India.

Much like the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, FAIR is being built with international collaboration near Darmstadt in Hesse, Germany, as part of the GSI Helmholtz Centre for Heavy Ion Research. While 70 per cent of the project is funded by Germany, India is the largest contributor after Germany and Russia.

"Unlike CERN, the contribution here is in kind, through building components of the accelerator and conducting experiments. The VECC is shipping us super conducting magnets for the accelerator. There are 25 Indian institutions from India participating at FAIR with the core effort in Calcutta," said Giubellino. The new facility, which has Bose Institute former director Sibaji Raha as the founding chairman of the Joint Scientific Council of both the GSI and the FAIR, is expected to reveal consolidated findings about unknown states of matter and missing information about the evolution of the universe 13.8 billion years ago. The accelerator is in the process of being built though experiments will start as early as next year.

Stressing the role of the scientists in the city, Giubellino said: "Calcutta is a key partner in our project, the largest science project in the world. Scientists from here and the industry are working hand in hand to produce equipment of the highest standards. There is fierce competition that they have to overcome in building MUON detectors and the CBM equipment and it is based only on meritocracy."

The Italian scientist, while addressing a group of girls from Calcutta over Skype, was impressed with the huge turnout. "I was in Germany travelling when I was asked to address a group of students from here. I had expected not more than 10 or 15 students but when I opened Skype, I was surprised to see about a thousand waiting," said the science chief.

Calling all young students to FAIR, he said: "We welcome scientists from institutes like Bose Institute and VECC because we know they will be of international standards. I have been working with scientists from here and am aware of their calibre and do recognise that their students will have the capability to work in an international mega science project as ours."