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Dedication of the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider

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Neal Lane
Assistant to the President for Science and Technology

Brookhaven National Laboratory
Dedication of the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider
October 4, 1999


Thank you.  As a low-energy atomic physicist, It's a pleasure and an honor to be here today.

This celebration and dedication of the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider provides the opportunity to renew our commitment to two fundamental principles.  First, our success as a nation depends, in large measure, on advancing the frontiers of science and technology.  And equally important, science is inherently an international undertaking.

The continuing Federal investment in research pays enormous dividends in discoveries and breakthroughs that fulfill our passion for exploration and our hunger for new knowledge.  Many of these breakthroughs ultimately work their way into improvements in our daily lives.  The immense payoffs from
long-term research funding are evident throughout our economy, from laser surgery, to global positioning technology, MRI scans, to the Internet, to the microchip in your coffee maker or your hearing aid.

Progress in research and innovation depends on a balanced portfolio of investments.  The scientific disciplines are inextricably linked – for example, gains in the biomedical field are dependent on advances in the physical and mathematical sciences.  This dedication marks a major step forward in understanding the physical universe.  Risk-taking, fundamental research like this is crucial to the future of our country and the world.

The RHIC dedication also reminds us of the importance of international cooperation in our nation's S&T enterprise.  There are, we recognize, some challenging research opportunities that will yield only to international efforts.
As we better understand the fundamental nature of matter, the origins,  structure and dynamics of the universe and our planet, and the development and evolution of living organisms, we are discovering that no one nation can expect to fully explore these issues on its own.  Only through international cooperation and the sharing of resources -- human and financial – can these and many other basic scientific questions be answered.  RHIC relies on the brains, experience, and dedication of scientists from other nations.  For example, the head of the RHIC project, Satoshi Ozaki, was recruited from Japan after he had built the TRISTAN facility there.

As a result of the advocacy of Akito Arima, Japan has invested about $30 million in hardware for the accelerator and for one of the experiments at RHIC, where a contingent of about 50 Japanese experimentalists work.  In addition, Japan has invested in a center at Brookhaven, the RIKEN-BNL Center, which was created to maximize the science return from RHIC by recruiting the very best young researchers.

And, of course, the RIKEN-BNL Center is headed by Chinese-American Nobel Prize winning physicist, T.D. Lee.

China is also actively involved in RHIC.  I understand there are about 10 scientists from Chinese institutions working here on the experiments, but
of course, many more Chinese nationals are affiliated with other U.S. institutions as students, postdocs, or faculty who are part of the experimental program.

Indeed, researchers from other parts of Asia and throughout the world are making important contributions to RHIC.

Now this is just one project at one Federal Lab.  If we were to make a list of all scientists and engineers working in our universities and laboratories across the country who were born in other parts of the world, that list would be long and impressive.  And that list is an important lifeline for global stability.

Scientific lines of communication between countries typically remain open even when almost every other form of contact has collapsed.  We saw this during the Cold War in the many links between U.S. scientists and those in the Soviet Union.  It is equally important today that scientific exchanges continue between nations that find themselves in conflict of one form or another.  Science is about harmony . . . about collaborative discovery.  It can help maintain and lay the groundwork for peace.

We wish all possible success for this marvelous facility.  As the wise researcher and innovator Louis Pasteur once said, “Science knows no country, because knowledge belongs to humanity, and is the torch which illuminates the world.  Science is the highest personification of the nation because that nation will remain the first which carries furthest the works of thought and intelligence.”

I hope that the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider we dedicate here today will, through its discoveries, become an emblem of the unlimited possibilities of international scientific research, and I hope that our country will continue to support, to nurture, and to host such efforts far into the future.  I know that Brookhaven Director Jack Marburger and Secretary Bill Richardson and I will be doing everything we can to help that effort, and I hope all of you here will rededicate yourselves to the same goal.

So, congratulations and best wishes and thank you for the opportunity to be here today.

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