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Spain contributes €55 million to CERN

The Spanish contribution in 2008 to the CERN (European Particle Physics Laboratory), where in a few weeks the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) will become operational, is €55 million, according to the latest data from this institution.

Spain, which remains the fifth-largest contributor to CERN, is also financing, with nearly €20 million a year, the Spanish teams participating in the primary experiments with the LHC, the most important project in particle physics.

Spain's participation in the CERN represents 8.34% of all contributions from the 20 Member States (Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom), which together have contributed €670 million this year. In the case of the LHC, which was built with the budgeted income from the CERN, the total cost since 1 January 1995, already exceeds €4 billion.

The Secretary General for Science and Technology Policy at the Ministry of Science and Innovation (MICINN), José Manuel Fernández de Labastida, reminded SINC that each country's contributions to the CERN are calculated based on the national GDP, and since Spain is in fifth place in the EU, following Germany, the United Kingdom, France and Italy, it also contributes in that proportion.

Labastida highlighted the effort made by the Spanish Government, in addition to the annual dues contributed to the institution, to finance with between €15 million and €20 million additionally each year the activity of different Spanish research teams participating in the four main LHC experiments: ATLAS (A Toroidal LHC ApparatuS), CMS (Compact Muon Solenoid), LHCb (LHC-beauty) and ALICE (A Large Ion Collider Experiment).

“Throughout Spain, there are researchers involved in these four detectors, which are of a spectacular size”, indicated Labastida. In ATLAS, for example, the Corpuscular Physics Institute (IFIC, a mixed center of the CSIC and the University of Valencia) participates in the construction of 280 silicon modules (equivalent to 3 of the 18 endcap discs being manufactured), together with the National Microelectronics Center and the Barcelona Microelectronics Institute (CNM-IMB). The Institut de Fisica d'Altes Energies (IFAE) of Barcelona is also collaborating in the mechanical and optical assembly of a hadronic calorimeter endcap (there is a total of 64), and the Autonomous University of Madrid in “absorbing” lead from an endcap wheel.

The Center for Energy, Environmental and Technological Research (CIEMAT) is participating in the design and construction of 70 muon chambers (25% of the total) for the CMS, as well as in the manufacturing of the reader electronics for these chambers. Meanwhile, the Cantabria Physics Institute (IFCA), a mixed center of CSCI and the University of Cantabria, is responsible for designing the alignment system and associated electronics for this solenoid. The University of Oviedo and the Autonomous University of Madrid are also participating in this experiment, involved in designing the data selection or trigger system.

In the LHCb, the testing and characterization of the MAPMT photosensors, their design, production and electronics testing are the responsibility of the University of Barcelona and the Ramon Llull University. Meanwhile, the University of Santiago de Compostela is involved in the assembly of the silicon modules, cooling system and voltage, together with the Galician Institute for High Energy Physics (IGFAE). Both institutions are also responsible for the physics phenomenology in ALICE, with CIEMAT working its computation.

According to data from the CERN, in 2007 there were 98 Spanish scientists in its workforce, which represents 3.8% of the staff, and 256 Spanish users (4.7% of the total) made use of the services provided by this institution. Furthermore, the director of the CERN's Scientific Policy Board is Spanish researcher Enrique Fernández, from the Barcelona High Energy Physics Institute.

“Although the CERN attempts to answer basic questions on physics, the development of the most advanced technology necessary to build the particle detectors favors applications in the industrial sector”, said Labastida. From 1 January 1995 to 31 March 2008, the industrial return on supply and service contracts for the machine, the experimental areas and the LHC experiments awarded by the CERN have been worth some €117 million (6.5% of the total). Taking into consideration the contracts carried out directly by Spanish research groups for teams and material, the return is greater than Spain's contribution.

Major participation by Spanish companies

Over 35 Spanish companies participate in the LHC, in areas such as civil engineering (Empresarios Agrupados, Dragados, IDOM), electrical engineering (JEMA, ANTEC), mechanical engineering (Felguera Construcciones Mecánicas, Asturfeito, Nortemecánica, Elay, EADS-CASA), vacuum and low-temperature technologies (Telstar, Vacuum projects), electronics (GTD, CRISA, INSYTE, SAIFOR), and in a variety of services (IBERINCO, SENER, INTECSA-INARSA, TAM, AXIMA, SIDASA).

Labastida also said that there are Spanish scientists involved in the GRID computation project, “a second phase of the Internet in which calculations are shared on the Net”, with the participation of the Port de Informació Científica (PIC), a consortium made up of the regional government of Catalonia, CIEMAT, the Autonomous University of Barcelona and IFAE.

“The advantage of the initiatives at the CERN, where the World Wide Web (WWW) was born, is that what comes out of here is free to be used by everyone, and it can benefit all of mankind”, concluded the Secretary General.

| alfa
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