CERN: Past Performance and Future Prospects - III - CERN and the Future of World High-Energy Physics

Martin, Ben R and Irvine, John (1984) CERN: Past Performance and Future Prospects - III - CERN and the Future of World High-Energy Physics. Research Policy, 13. pp. 311-42. ISSN 0048-7333/8

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In a series of three papers, we attempt to evaluate the past scientific performance of the three main particle accelerators at the Geneva-based European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) over the period since 1960, and to assess the future prospects for CERN and its users during the next ten to fifteen years.

We concerned ourselves in the first paper (Paper I-Martin and Irvine [29]) with the position of the CERN accelerators in world high-energy physics relative to those at other large laboratories working in the field. We dealt primarily with the period from 1969 to 1978, and attempted to establish how the experimental output from the three principal CERN accelerators, taken as a whole, compared with that from other major facilities. In undertaking this comparative evaluation, we drew on the method of “converging partial indicators” used in previous studies of three Big Science specialties.

In contrast, the second paper (Paper II - Irvine and Martin [24]) focused in detail on the scientific performance of each of the CERN accelerators taken individually. In particular, it asked, first, how the outputs from the CERN 28 GeV (giga or billion electron-volts) Proton Synchrotron compare with those from a very similar 33 GeV American accelerator at Brookhaven National Laboratory over the past two decades. Second, how great have been the experimental achievements of the Intersecting Storage Rings in world terms? And, third, how do the outputs from the CERN 400 GeV Super Proton Synchrotron and from a rival US machine at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory compare? Attempts were then made to identify the main factors responsible for determining the relative scientific performance of each CERN machine.

These factors are of relevance to the subject of this third paper (Paper III), which sets out to assess the future prospects for CERN and in particular for LEP, the large electron-positron collider scheduled for completion in the latter part of 1988. What are the construction requirements (financial and technical) associated with LEP, and how easily will they be met? How does the scientific potential of LEP compare with that of other major accelerators under construction or planned around the world? In the light of the previous record of the CERN accelerators, to what extent is this scientific potential likely to be realized? What spin-off is there likely to be from LEP to accelerator physics in general? Finally, how “flexible” is LEP -in other words, what is its potential for future development? The paper concludes with a discussion of the extent to which predictive techniques can be utilized in the formulation of scientific priorities, and of the problems in current science policy-making that such techniques might help address.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of Business, Management and Economics > SPRU - Science Policy Research Unit
Depositing User: Ben Martin
Date Deposited: 06 Feb 2012 20:11
Last Modified: 03 Apr 2012 13:29
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