Back to Russia again, for the second time in a week, this time for a meeting of Scientific Council of the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research (JINR) in Dubna. A new Director has recently been designated, Alexei Sissakian, and the laboratory is defining a road map for its scientific programme during the next decade. The JINR will celebrate its 50th anniversary next year. It is a valued international partner with much technical expertise and many excellent physicists. Much of JINR’s scientific programme is in collaboration with other laboratories such as CERN as well as universities outside Russia.
The new management wants to prioritize these as well as Dubna’s internal programmes in particle, nuclear and condensed-matter physics, and start a new project of global interest, if possible.
The first picture shows Alexei Sissakian, Vladimir Kekelidze (the head of the JINR Laboratory for High-Energy Physics and currently spokesperson of the NA48 experiment at CERN), yours truly and Mikhail Itkis catching up during the conference dinner.
Most of the former Soviet Union and Eastern European countries are members of the JINR. The laboratory went through hard times in the 1990s. JINR member states are now paying a larger fraction of their promised contributions, but salaries are still very low and JINR staff cannot afford to retire on their even lower pensions. We heard a lot at this meeting about the possibilities for collaboration with Germany, which (as the former east Germany) used to be a member state of the JINR before the fall of the Berlin wall, and currently has a special cooperation agreement with Dubna.
Dubna is set on the Volga River. Walking along its embankment, you come across middle-aged joggers and sunbathers, teenagers sweeping desultorily with newly-made birch brooms, ladies planting flowers in recently-raked beds, and people tending their allotments or sailing on the river. During the Soviet era, it was a scientific idyll, but adapting to the priorities of the new Russia and its former associates is an uphill struggle.