A traditional press conference with JINR Director

News, 24 December 2019

A traditional New Year’s Eve press conference with JINR Director was held. JINR Director Academician V. A. Matveev summed up the milestones of the year, spoke about new projects and plans and answered the questions of Dubna journalists.

Dear colleagues and friends,

Only a few days are left untill the New year, and it is time to sum up the results of the expiring year 2019.

We recently held the last in 2019 meeting of the Science and Technology Council chaired by R. V. Jolos, and we had an opportunity to discuss the results of the year. In my speech, I said that I had no doubts that the year 2019 was one of the most successful in the modern history of our Institute.

We can make sure of it if we just consider the implementation of the Seven-year plan for the Institute’s development starting with its largest project – the NICA complex. Just these last days of the expiring year, the assembling of the circular superconducting heavy-ion accelerator – the Booster – is being concluded, and its major systems and elements are being set up, tested and put into operation stage-by-stage. All the key elements of the magnet and cryostat systems were produced particularly at JINR using the unique technology developed in Dubna and acknowledged in Europe. Technological systems were designed to control the complex of accelerators and produce a high-quality beam of heavy ions. These systems were created by both Russian and foreign leading institutes and companies. It is high-level work. The first experimental results have been obtained on the production of hyperons in the collisions of heavy ions. This research is carried out to study the properties of the super dense baryonic matter produced in the collisions of high-energy heavy ions. These are the first but significant results; millions of events are registered. The data are processed, and the experiments have been conducted by collaborations of scientists of about 250 researchers from 21 institutes in 11 countries all over the world. It is real life of the NICA complex. Although there is still a lot to do until its full implementation.

Another priority project of our Seven-year plan is the deep underwater neutrino telescope on Lake Baikal. The development of this telescope is conducted in cooperation of our Institute with institutes of the Russian Academy of Sciences and foreign scientific centres. It is a strong collaboration sealed with the expectations created in the neutrino experiments conducted in deep and Antarctic ice. They aim to form a brand-new class of research – neutrino astronomy. This new research field will significantly expand our understanding of the processes occurring in the deep space originating from, perhaps, the very first minutes of the existence of our Universe after its birth in the Big Bang.

We have once dreamed of achieving an effective volume of the sensitivity of our deep-underwater detector on lake Baikal comparable to at least a small share of a cubic kilometre. And, in March of this year, the 4th and the 5th clusters of the underwater detector were installed. So, it shows that since March 2019, JINR as a member of the international collaboration has, in fact, the largest neutrino detector in the Northern hemisphere with the effective volume of the sensitivity of a quarter of a cubic kilometre. The data obtained at this already powerful telescope are being processed, and 6 first high-energy neutrino events have been already detected showing that processes, which we do not fully understand yet, occur in the deep space. Studying the physical laws of these processes will, of course, open our eyes to those phenomena that occur when matter develops in extreme conditions, namely high densities and energies. We are waiting for discoveries in this field.

It should be noted that the Laboratory of Nuclear Problems, a leader in this project, acquires side results while conducting major activities, and they lead to unexpected effects. In particular, a unique instrument, namely the precision laser inclinometer, was designed under the supervision of Professor J. A. Budagov. It is a device that uses modern elements of physics, such as laser radiation, quantum phenomenon, and gravitational interaction. As a result, an instrument has been developed with unique sensitivity in detecting slight oscillations of the earth’s surface; the precision is achieved which is impossible at devices developed for seismic research. It turned out that this device, a side product of research and new methods and technologies, is in demand at CERN, at first, for the design of new superpowerful colliders at which very high sensitivity should be achieved thus providing precise interactions of, in fact, point-like hadron beams or heavy ions. And now it is in demand in the search for gravitational waves. Experimentalists from the VIRGO and LIGO international collaborations acknowledged as discoverers of the gravitational radiation learned about such an instrument and decided that they should use our inclinometer to increase the sensitivity of their research. Nowadays, the device is being tested, and due to the data we have from this collaboration, it surprises everyone with the quality. Jointly with our partners from CERN, we have become participants of the most advanced experiments in the fields of the search for gravitational radiation.

This year, the unique complex at the Superheavy Element Factory was successfully constructed, set up and launched. These facilities could be constructed only in Dubna as far as particularly here the experience in this research area has been obtained. The complex has been launched, all necessary permits for such kind of experiments were obtained. These experiments are conducted with heavy ions, including superheavy elements, which are, of course, radioactive. We obtained all the permits. It was an indication of how high the level of work conducted at this complex and the confidence in the level of research carried out by the Institute were. The first experiments are prepared. They are aimed to synthesize moscovium, an element discovered in Dubna, in order to make sure that the new complex of the Superheavy Element Factory is efficient. After these experiments, it will be possible to take on the major task: to try to synthesize elements 119 and 120 beyond the 7th filled period of the Mendeleev’s Table.

The UNESCO proclaimed 2019 the International Year of the Periodic Table. Our Institute, its leading specialists, Scientific Leader of the Laboratory of Nuclear Reactions Yu. Ts. Oganessian were invited to participate in all the international events connected with the Year. First of all, they attended the inauguration and opening ceremony of IYPT in Paris, in the UNESCO headquarters. JINR representatives also took part in numerous events all over the world and, finally, visited the IYPT closing ceremony in Tokyo. Being present at these events, I made sure of how much prestige the Institute has. Results on the discovery of superheavy elements created the name to our Institute for many centuries to come, brought glory to our city. I believe that it plays a significant role in terms of moral support, confidence in our plans for the Institute’s development we are working out now. It is a pleasure to realize all this, and I would like to wish success to the participants of the synthesis of new elements.

It should be noted that holding the International Year of the Periodic Table was focused on the fact that this kind of research is important not only for fundamental science but also for all the fields of human activities. The IYPT became a significant event for the fields of education, new technologies, production in developing countries. It is a great pleasure that in this regard our big contribution to this research was recognized. D. I. Mendeleev knew about only 63 chemical elements. Nowadays, the last known, the heaviest element 118, and it says that 55 new elements have been discovered since then, 10 of which have been discovered thanks to research conducted in Dubna. It is, of course, an extraordinary success.

The range of research is wide, and the Institute has numerous priority projects. The IBR-2 pulsed reactor is being successfully developing. It gave us the first example of the implementation of the international user programme. We have become open to the world to a full extent, and we are ready to consider all scientific offers on conducting experiments at neutron beams.

The success of this field, this user program, which also opens a wide front for joint work around the world, determines the quality of neutron spectrometers. The Laboratory of Neutron Physics and the JINR Directorate pay much attention to it. However, the Laboratory plans its future as well. We understand that the resource of the IBR-2 will be once depleted, so now we work on the creation of the future neutron pulsed source of the 4th generation. And the partnership with leading scientific organizations, in particular, with Rosatom, plays an important role in this regard.

In December, we held a joint meeting of the Presidium of the Science and Technology Council of the State Corporation “Rosatom” and leaders of the Institute. Programmes of the long-term development of JINR were presented in which the support of Rosatom could be significant. It turned out that the discussion opened to Rosatom representatives prospects for cooperation in the fields of fundamental physics. This may include the development of a new pulsed neutron source, the production of heavy isotopes for the development of target devices in the experiments on the synthesis of new elements in FLNR. There is also a new project – a radiobiological medical centre. It may use the knowledge gained by JINR on the application of the proton radiation for the therapy of oncological diseases. In particular, the Laboratory of Radiation Biology invented new methods to increase the efficiency of proton radiation for therapy of cancer diseases combining radiation sources with special pharmaceuticals. It increases the efficiency of proton therapy several times. We gained the support of Rosatom and the Ministry of Health to establish such a centre. It is one of those issues demonstrating that we should think of the development not only in the frames of the Seven-year plan but beyond it as well.

We have greatly advanced in the development of information technologies. It is a pleasure to note that our Laboratory of Information Technologies possesses knowledge of modern movements and methods in the field and that its personnel is ready to train young specialists in order to develop the fields of information technologies and high-performance computing at the highest level. In fact, we have doubled the efficiency of the “Govorun” supercomputer. Now, it is one of the ten most powerful computing systems in the CIS countries. Expert meetings are held annually to consider new ideas and a possibility of their implementation in various institutes all over the world. The LIT technological level is highly ranked. Nowadays, digital science is one of the basics for successful research, both fundamental and applied. We have excellent head starts and prospects in this field.

It is difficult to enumerate all the results. However, I cannot but mention our great success in the fields of staff training. Interaction of the JINR University Centre with leading scientific centres and universities resulted in the active development of contacts with universities of the JINR Member States. Cooperation with the University “Dubna” plays a significant role. For example, there is a joint JINR-BMSTU-Dubna University project on the establishment of the Higher School of Engineering. Furthermore, an additional agreement was signed with the Governor of the Moscow Region on the support of this project. It is a very important field as far as science is developing so fast that universities do not manage to keep up to educate the staff for the unique scientific facilities applying the traditional methods. That is why we have to undertake this task to train engineers who will use the opportunities of the Institute’s experimental facilities.

We want to believe that the planned programme on social issues, the development of our infrastructure will be implemented and will improve the living conditions of the JINR personnel and colleagues coming to Dubna from other centres. Sports complex, cultural events will build an environment encouraging young scientists to work efficiently. It should be noted that it is absolutely normal that the new generation of scientists expects such conditions. We understand it. And now we have undertaken a complicated task of a full modernization, reconstruction of the dormitory at Moskovskaya str. 2, which largely determines the face of the Institute’s part of the city. We signed all the agreements to get a renewed building until the end of the next year, which will meet the needs of young scientists and specialists. It is also necessary to develop the infrastructure in Ratmino. We now implement the programme on attracting postdocs to JINR, allocate funds. We will develop the necessary conditions. There should be an opportunity to invite specialists who will generate new ideas, invent new approaches to research conducted at JINR, who will create a new environment. We should be open to the whole world and understand that the projects we are implementing here are not for us but for the entire world and the JINR Member States, first.

To conclude I would like to say that Dubna is a city where people engaged in and keen on science are happy to live. It is a wonderful city. I would like to wish Dubna further development and wish us to be patriots of our city and our Institute.

On behalf of the JINR Directorate, I would like to congratulate our multinational staff on the results with which we conclude the year 2019. I wish all the employees, members of their families, all our partners from the Member States and all around the world all the best in the coming year 2020. I wish you good health, strengths, well-being, happiness and every success. Happy new year, friends!

New Year greeting by JINR Director Academician Victor Matveev, Video by the JINR Scientific Information Department

Galina Myalkovskaya, JINR Weekly Newspaper,
Photo by Elena Puzynina