Director's Corner

Addressing the known unknowns

| 6 August 2015

Experience gained at the European Spallation Source currently under construction in Sweden was fed into the Project Implementation Plan. Image: ESS

I am sure that my readers will remember that in my last Director’s Corner, in April, I threatened to write at some future date about the new Project Implementation Planning (PIP) document. Those of you with an even longer memory, going back to my Director’s Corner of April 2014, may even remember what it is. Just in case, however, I take this opportunity not only to honour my promise of last April to also to refresh your memory and to offer you an opportunity to peruse the final document.

Early in 2014, Sachio Komamiya, chair of the Linear Collider Board LCB, asked me to convene a group to take another look at issues relating to ILC governance. This was not the first time I had chaired a similar activity; back in 2011, Mike Harrison and I had led the group that produced the first PIP document. Sachio asked me to look again at these issues, taking into account not only developments in major scientific infrastructures since then but also the changed situation now that Japan was exploring the possibility of hosting the ILC.

The charge I received from the LCB was the following: “The Subcommittee is to produce recommendations on the organization and management of the proposed ILC Lab in Japan. Among the items to consider for this global project are: governance; organization; management structure; legal framework; staff composition; relationship between world HEP labs and the ILC Lab; and the role of the host nation. (…) A final report should be submitted by the Subcommittee to the LCB’s 26 February 2015 meeting; an interim report can be submitted earlier if a consensus is reached on significant issues.”

The LCB also agreed the following membership:

  • Brian Foster, DESY/Oxford University, Germany/UK
  • Neil Calder, Vice President for Communication & Public Relations, Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology, (OIST), Japan
  • Colin Carlile, Former Director of the ESS in Sweden
  • Jonathan Dorfan, President and CEO, OIST, Japan
  • Dean Karlen, University of Victoria, Canada
  • Vera Luth, Professor (Emeritus) SLAC, USA
  • Dinesh Kumar Srivastava, Director, Variable Energy Cyclotron Centre, Kolkata
  • Satoru Yamashita ICEPP, University of Tokyo, Japan

Later in our deliberations, I was given permission by the LCB to co-opt a further member, Sakue Yamada from the University of Tokyo, who had been chairing a working group on related issues from the perspective of the collaborations and physicists working towards the experimental programme for the ILC.

Given the wide geographical distribution of the members as well as their busy schedules, all of our four meetings were teleconferences, although when several of us were attending events such as LCWS, we took the opportunity to gather most of us around a table. The great majority of our work was carried out in the spring and summer of last year; we concentrated on those areas where there was new information and/or specific factors relating to Japan that needed to be included. As a result, we decided to leave unchanged several chapters of the original PIP document for which there was no important new information. These include for example that on procurement and industrialisation. I produced a draft of the new chapters at the start of the summer. This was iterated and then finalised in time for a presentation I made to the FALC meeting that took place in conjunction with the Beijing ICFA Seminar in October. A “final draft” was then presented to LCB during the notorious “snow-bound” LCB and ICFA meeting held at Jefferson Laboratory in Virginia, USA in February of this year. This resulted in several small modifications, most recently in the addition of a preface designed to emphasise yet again that the purpose of the document is not to pre-empt the role of governments and funding agencies in considering the shape of an ILC laboratory but rather to input information from the physics community on what are likely, in our experience, to be the best models for the future. This final document, merged with the unchanged chapters carried over from the 2011 PIP, has been agreed in principle by LCB and will be formally signed-off at the LCB meeting in Ljubljana in two weeks time.

What are the main changes compared to the previous PIP? The continuing development of ITER has certainly injected further information and experience that has shaped changes in the discussion of the governance model for the ILC. Also the evolution of the European X-ray Free-Electron Laser and the approval of the European Spallation Source were additional sources of useful experience. These led to more detail and clarification of what was meant by contingency and the use of the common fund. Another area that was – deliberately – not addressed in the original PIP is that of running costs for the ILC. This is a thorny question on which there are strongly held, and mutually incompatible, views across the world. The new PIP offers several models for consideration. A chapter on Intellectual Property was added, although, since none of the committee are experts in this area, it is really more of a placeholder indicating the importance of the issue than a substantial contribution to the literature. In addition to these, a large number of other modifications were made to the document, including more concrete discussion of the transition to a final ILC laboratory governance on the assumption that the accelerator complex is built in the site in Iwate, Japan.

Now that the document has been finalised and will shortly be signed off by LCB, I am happy to announce that it can be accessed at the following link. I hope you will find it a useful document; at the risk of repeating myself, it is intended to be a snapshot of information helpful to collaborating and interested governments as we progress along the road to the approval of the ILC project. At the end of my previous piece on governance I quoted Lord Curzon, a British politician. Let me conclude this one with a reference to another politician, not quite so eloquent, Donald Rumsfeld. The new PIP is intended to throw light on some of the “known unknowns” to which the former US Secretary of Defense famously and opaquely referred; the “unknown unknowns” will have to wait for the next PIP iteration!

Brian Foster

European Director in the LCC
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