March 16, 2010

During the course of the past year, we have received visits from scientists and technologists from a number of institutions. We have also talked about visiting other institutions ourselves. Why?

Often, when we discuss what benefits can accrue from our mastery of a technology, such as superconducting radio-frequency acceleration, we imply that our skills can help other laboratories. How?

When we talk of our skills, we don’t claim to be omnipotent, yet we have ambitions and plans to build new machines, which need more skills than our internal expertise offers. How?

An answer that fits is - Collaboration.

At the SURA meeting last week, a remark was made at lunch that the idea of a bunch of biologists coming together and agreeing on a plan, such as that embodied in the Nuclear Sciences Advisory Committee long-range plan, is unimaginable. It requires too high a degree of cooperation, too high a degree of collaboration.

Collaboration is a methodology for interaction and for mutual assistance that is entirely voluntary. It is something at which nuclear and particle physicists excel, and collaboration with a wide range of scientists from institutions in the U.S. and dozens of countries abroad has been at the heart of the research program at CEBAF since its inception.

In a previous Montage, I discussed visiting China and the plans for Chinese institutions to participate in experiments at Jefferson Lab. There were collaborations in gestation. In the fall, Andrew Hutton represented the lab at a U.S.-China meeting at SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory. During the past month, we received a visit from Hesheng Chen. He is the director of the Institute for High Energy Physics in Beijing, an institute of the Chinese Academy of Sciences. The institute operates an electron positron collider (some aspects of its physics are closely related to ours) and will take responsibility for construction of a Chinese spallation neutron source.

Following a colloquium by Chen describing the activities in China, many commented on how impressed they are with the developments in science in China. As a follow-up to that visit, we will work with the Chinese to develop a Memorandum of Understanding under which each laboratory hopes to enhance the degree of cooperation and collaboration on both physics and technology.

Earlier this month, we received a visit from a team of five leaders from IRFU, the Institut de Recherches sur les lois Fondamentales de l’Univers at Saclay. This team was led by Philipe Chomaz, the director, and included Michel Garcon and Jacques Ball, who have been strong participants in our experiments for some time, as well as Ursula Bassler and Michel Mur. In some ways, the CEBAF accelerator superseded an electron machine at Saclay. Under a different name, this institute has been an integral part of the Jefferson Lab program since its inception.

About a year ago, we had signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the combination of IRFU and Institut National de Physique Nucléaire et Physique des Particules (IN2P3), the other major agency for government science funding in France. In that instance, the emphasis was on collaboration in the 12 GeV Upgrade and program, for example in the CLAS12 collaboration in Hall B. This visit did not have a particular goal except to cement relationships, but we spent a full day describing and showing off our lab, including science education and nuclear imaging, and, indeed, discussed aspects of our work on which we don’t cooperate, but could.

Both these visits emphasized that together we can accomplish much more than we can accomplish alone. They both re-emphasized collaboration.