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Two years to answering the question “why we exist”

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Russia Today
March 3, 2010

After 30 years of work Russia prepares to get closer to revealing more secrets of the nano-world, as in two years time it is set to launch a new beam research reactor near St. Petersburg.

This reactor will be the testing ground for very powerful experiments to explore some of the most profound questions about science and our universe.

Based in the town of Gatchina near St. Petersburg, it’s hoped the reactor will enable scientists from around the world to go further than they have gone before.

“The main enigma of our time is the question of why we exist,” stated Valeriy Fedorov, the Head of Laboratory of Neutron Research. “Science always requires new theories to progress and a way to test these theories. The reactor will be able to conduct many more experiments than anywhere else at the moment.”

Reactor PIK has been under construction since 1978. The project was halted after the Chernobyl accident in 1986, the world’s worst nuclear disaster, releasing more than four hundred times more radioactive fallout than the atomic bombing of Hiroshima.

  • A d v e r t i s e m e n t

The reactor design was revised and improved after this with a high emphasis on safety.

Put simply, PIK is a facility to produce huge numbers of neutrons, tiny atomic particles.

By creating them, scientists can study their properties, and learn more about the most basic structure of our universe by examining some of its most minute components.

“Our task is to get as many neutrons as possible through the horizontal, the inclined and the vertical channel and to use them for physics experiments,” said engineer Vladimir Gudkov.

A varied team work at PIK including physicists, biologists, chemists as well as nuclear experts. Scientists from all over the world are involved, with the findings to be shared among the international scientific community. The facility has a huge experimental program ahead.

All the processes that will be going on inside the reactor are to be monitored from the control room which, though looking extremely complicated, will be full of people eager to make sense of all the data acquired once the reactor is launched.

Scientist and inventor Kir Konoplev, one of the men who helped invent the reactor and has been working on it since the beginning, told RT, “I think its very good that scientists from one country can work with those from another country, not just for science and scientists but for all people.”

The PIK facility is set to become an international center for neutron research, studies in solid state physics, and particle interaction. And those behind it hope it will have the potential to change our understanding of the world and universe around us.

This article was posted: Wednesday, March 3, 2010 at 5:28 am

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