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Fire damages Russian heavy ion accelerator

A fire has caused extensive damage to one of Russia’s major facilities for nuclear physics. The blaze broke out on 5 February among power cables for the heavy ion accelerator at the Institute for Theoretical and Experimental Physics (ITEP) in Moscow, according to a source at the institute. The accelerator was shut down at the time, and no one was injured.

The 50-year-old accelerator was a workhorse for the Russian nuclear physics community. It was capable of accelerating protons to 10 gigaelectronvolts, and it also conducted studies on nuclei such as iron, silicon, carbon and silver. The machine conducted world-class studies on relativistic nuclei, says Boris Sharkov, director of the Facility for Antiproton and Ion Research being built in Darmstadt, Germany, who led an upgrade to the ITEP machine a decade ago. Its protons were also used to treat thousands of Russian patients for cancer every year. “It is a great pity,” he says.

The fire is another blow to physicists at ITEP who have recently protested conditions at the laboratory following its transfer from the state-owned atomic energy corporation, ROSATOM, to the Kurchatov Institute. Sharkov says that he is hopeful that ROSATOM and Kurchatov will be able to fund the repair of the accelerator.

Image: CERN Courrier



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