Achievements and prospects: BMBF State Secretary visits GSI and FAIR
The research at FAIR and the ongoing research activities in the run up to its establishment were the focus of a visit by Professor Wolf-Dieter Lukas, State Secretary at the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF). Together with further senior staff from the BMBF, he heard all about the outlook for the future at the FAIR and GSI campus.
The guests were welcomed by Professor Paolo Giubellino, Scientific Managing Director of GSI and FAIR, Dr Ulrich Breuer, Administrative Managing Director, and Jörg Blaurock, Technical Managing Director.
The guests enjoyed presentations and a guided tour, giving them comprehensive insights into current and planned research activities at the FAIR facilities. State Secretary Lukas was impressed by the achievements of GSI, by the outstanding activities carried out as part of the current “FAIR Phase 0” program and by the promising scientific prospects that will emerge once FAIR becomes operational: “Fundamental scientific research forms a crucial foundation for development and progress in a society. Supporting such research is therefore a key priority of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research. Today, I have seen for myself what excellent, cutting-edge research is being done here at GSI and the compelling scientific potential of the future FAIR facilities.”
The unique possibilities of FAIR and future challenges were also the focus of a tour of the existing accelerator facility. Young researchers and responsible scientists at various parts of the facility gave the guests insight into their work, including the experimental storage ring ESR, the medical radiation unit of the biophysics department, the large-scale experiments R3B and HADES as well as the high-performance computer center Green IT Cube. Summarizing his visit State Secretary Lukas stressed, “I am particularly impressed by the high level of expertise and the enthusiasm shown by the young researchers I met during the visit for their work at GSI.”
At the international accelerator center FAIR, which is being built at GSI, extreme forms of matter that usually only exist in neutron stars, supernovae, stars or large gas planets are to be produced and researched in the lab. FAIR will thus investigate "the universe in the laboratory". FAIR's future research work will build on the successful research at GSI. Scientists from all over the world will use the different areas of GSI and FAIR to carry out unique experiments and obtain new insights into the structure of matter and the evolution of the universe.
The experimental storage ring ESR, for example, enables the storage and (beam) cooling of highly charged ions and exotic nuclei. The stored ion beams will be used with the highest levels of quality and precision for unique experiments testing the fundamentals law of physics and opening the door to studying key astrophysical processes. Storage ring physics is one of the unique features of GSI and FAIR.
At the medical radiation unit, where cancer patients were successfully treated with ion beams for the first time in Europe in 1997, future research will focus on technical and radiobiological advancements in ion beam therapy and on space research. This will include assessments of radiation exposure during long-term space missions in collaboration with the European Space Agency.
Within the R3B experiment, which was set up for FAIR by an international collaboration and is already active now in the "FAIR Phase 0" research program, reaction experiments with high-energy exotic nuclei are conducted. These experiments are important for understanding the origin of the heavy elements in the universe such as gold.
The HADES detector (Hi Acceptance Di-Electron Spectrometer) for FAIR is also already operational and is used to study high-energy nuclear collisions. HADES will allow scientists to understand the properties of hot, highly compressed nuclear matter as it is produced in the universe, for example, when neutron stars collide.
The Green IT Cube is a very powerful and energy-efficient high-performance computer center, the only one in Germany awarded the Blauer Engel certificate for environmental friendliness. It was designed as the central IT center for the storage and analysis of the huge amounts of data that will be generated by the FAIR experiments. (BP)