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New Zealand scientists in firing line

Media Release
4 December 2003

For immediate release

New Zealand scientists in firing line

Kiwi scientists have a great chance to have their work bombarded with protons, and to participate in world-class particle physics research, with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between CERN (the European Organisation for Nuclear Research) and New Zealand.

The MOU, signed recently by Science Minister Pete Hodgson, will be signed by CERN on 4 December in Geneva in the presence of New Zealand's Ambassador to Switzerland, Peter Hamilton

The MoU reinforces a relationship that New Zealand already has with CERN. Dr Alick Macpherson and his colleagues in Auckland and Christchurch are helping build detectors for CERN to monitor the impacts and effects of its new accelerator, which will fire extremely energetic protons at each other.

Massive banks of detectors are needed to monitor the pencil beam of protons at the collision point, and Macpherson and his peers are providing the detectors that take the brunt of the impacts.

The Memorandum provides further possibilities for Kiwi scientists to experience CERN’s world-leading programmes, including participation in formal CERN projects and related opportunities, such as the CERN Summer Student Programme, access to the CERN Scientific Associates Programme, and training visits within specific projects.

CERN Director General, Luciano Maiani, welcomed the formalisation of New Zealand's involvement with CERN, saying, "I am very pleased to welcome New Zealand to the CERN family. It is only fitting that the country that produced one of the fathers of modern physics, Ernest Rutherford, should be at the forefront of research in this field."

The Ministry of Research, Science and Technology’s Acting Chief Executive, Dr Helen Anderson, said, “The MoU gives New Zealand’s scientists a fantastic opportunity to participate in world-class research. At the same time it imposes minimal obligations on the Government, and leaves the practical arrangements to research institutions – such as Auckland University – and, where appropriate, RS&T purchase agents.”

Some training is already under way; a Canterbury Masters student is currently in the summer programme with the CERN MediPix Group, and Auckland's Richard Gray will train for a month in their particle detector system. Other opportunities are also being followed up.

ENDS

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