This week we had contacts with high-level representatives of a couple of non-member countries that are participating strongly in the LHC programme. Last Wednesday CERN was visited by the President of India, Avul Pakir Jainulabdeen Abdul Kalam. Born into a modest fishing family, he studied science, then became a rocket engineer and the father of the Indian missile and satellite programmes. He met Indian teams working at CERN to test LHC magnets and on Grid software, as well as the usual CERN bigwigs. He is the first head of state I have met who knows about the Standard Model of elementary particles! The first picture shows yours truly with (from right to left) Archana Sharma, an Indian staff member of CERN, Diether Blechschmidt who has been handling India-CERN relations, Anil Kakodkar, the head of the Indian Department of Atomic Energy and several Indians working at CERN on the LHC project.
The next morning, I was off to Moscow as a member of a CERN delegation for one of our regular six-monthly coordination meetings with the Russian Minister of Education and Science, A. Fursenko. From our hotel, we had a good view of the Kremlin (left), St Basil's church (right) and an exhibition of construction equipment (foreground). The third picture was sent to me by my good colleague Vladimir Kadyshevsky, the Director of the Dubna Laboratory, with the heading 'From Russia with love'. Over the Minister's head (at the left) you see the CERN delegation, with our Director-General Robert Aymar in full flow. Several Russian Institutes, notably the Budker Institute of Nuclear Physics in Novosibirsk, are participating in the construction of the LHC accelerator as well as its detectors. Progress is generally good: for example, Novosibirsk has provided the magnets for the lines that will transfer protons between CERN’s existing SPS accelerator and the LHC. For years, several magnets were arriving by truck every month from central Siberia. After their installation, these magnets worked perfectly the first time a beam was sent through them along the transfer line to the LHC tunnel.
This CERN-Russia meeting provided the opportunity for a bit of tourism and a convivial dinner with our Russian partners, as seen in the last picture. That's Minister Fursenko sitting on my right: do not be misled by the impressive array of bottles of mineral water in the foreground!