Large Hadron Collider: In high-end research, Pakistanis also playing their part

Published: June 22, 2013

Pakistani engineer Amir Aijaz (left) explains the repair work of the Large Hadron Collider to CERN Director General Rolf-Dieter Heuer at CERN in Geneva. PHOTO COURTESY: DR HAFEEZ HOORANI

ISLAMABAD: 

Many Pakistanis may not be aware that their country’s contributions to some of the most important scientific experiments and discoveries in the world did not end with the late Dr Abdus Salam, the only Pakistani ever to win the Nobel Prize in Physics.

In fact, at the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN), not only did electronics manufactured in Pakistan help in the detection of the Higgs boson, the elementary particle scientists believe imparts mass to all particles, Pakistani engineers and technicians are also currently participating in repairs of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), the highest energy particle accelerator in the world.

Pakistan’s collaboration with CERN, the world’s largest particle physics laboratory, first started in 1994 through the efforts of the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC), said Dr Hafeez Hoorani, the director of research at the National Centre for Physics (NCP) in Islamabad. The NCP became a part of PAEC’s collaboration with CERN after it was established in 1999.

At present, the NCP is one of the hundreds of grid nodes in the world that receive scientific data from the LHC, which are being used by NCP researchers and students.

“We as a nation should be proud of the fact that today Pakistan is part of an experiment which is the most exciting and challenging experiments of all times,” Hoorani, who has worked at CERN himself, said. “This project helps our students get involved in cutting-edge research.”

The LHC collides two high-energy, unbelievably fast beams of elementary particles, so scientists can test scientific models on the interaction of subatomic particles.

The Higgs boson — until the announcement of its discovery on July 4, 2012, the Higgs was the only missing element in the Standard Model of Physics, a model that Salam contributed to through his work on electroweak theory — decays instantaneously, so scientists had to confirm its existence through particles formed by its decomposition.

One of those by-product particles, a “Muon,” is detected by the CMS and Pakistan has been a full member of the CMS experiment since 2000.

Hoorani said around half of the events detected by the CMS, which were consistent with the hypothesis of the Higgs boson, were observed using detectors made in Pakistan.

The construction of these detectors, called Resistive Plate Chambers (RPCs), was made possible by the work of 15 physicists, 10 engineers, five Lasers and Opto-electronics experts, six computer professionals and 20 students from NCP and PAEC, Hoorani said.

The process included assembling and testing of 288 RPCs, the fabrication of mechanical pieces for LHC and the design of tracker alignment for the CMS. The PAEC also assembled carbon frames for the detector’s outer barrel at a cost which is approximately one-third of the European cost. In 2006, CERN awarded PAEC its Best Suppliers Award.

If that is not enough, two teams of Pakistani experts are participating alongside teams from Greece, Bulgaria, Poland and Italy in the LHC’s maintenance process that will continue till the end of 2014.

Twenty-eight people were selected from Pakistan after interviewing candidates from NCP, PAEC, the Heavy Mechanical Complex in Taxila and Precision Engineering in Karachi, Hoorani said. The engineers and technicians were trained at a mock-up facility at PAEC to familiarise them with the LHC environment and tools.

One six-member welding team and a six-member mechanical team have been working in Geneva, Switzerland, where CERN is located, since April on a nine-month shift.

NCP Director General Hamid Saleem said Pakistan is also trying to extend its collaboration with CERN in the coming months.

Published in The Express Tribune, June 22nd, 2013.

Reader Comments (55)

  • Baba Ji
    Jun 22, 2013 - 10:36AM

    Shabaash …. continue the hard work.

    Recommend

  • Taimoor
    Jun 22, 2013 - 10:55AM

    I actually visited CERN a couple of years ago on a scientific excursion. During the presentation I was surprised to know that Pakistan is on the 3rd or 4th position in the list of most scientists/engineers from a country working at CERN.

    Our eastern neighbors were down at around 8th/9th. :)

    Recommend

  • Ronin
    Jun 22, 2013 - 11:04AM

    @Taimoor Higgs-boson is named after two scientists… P higgs and Satyendra nath bose( Your eastern neighbour ) ….so 8th and 9th huh ?….you would fabricate any story to feel good about yourself… LMAO

    Recommend

  • Nabeel
    Jun 22, 2013 - 11:07AM

    It’s not just Europe, Our expats have also emerged as market players in the Middle East as well. Engineers and medical doctors are earning handsome salaries compared to those from India and the demand for Pakistani professionals is ever on the rise. (y)

    Recommend

  • Asim Ali
    Jun 22, 2013 - 11:11AM

    This is news. Wish the media could pick these elements who bring fame to the nation. These are the amongst the real heros of the country.

    Recommend

  • khan
    Jun 22, 2013 - 11:15AM

    yeah pak scientist r great,, a country which does not even have a indigenous car

    Recommend

  • Jun 22, 2013 - 11:21AM

    Brave of Tribune to give credit where credit is due … Dr. Abdus Salam.

    Also, Dr. Mansoora Shamim is integral to the CERN project and is Pakistani (origin/national not sure).

    Recommend

  • Utkarsh
    Jun 22, 2013 - 11:24AM

    @Taimoor
    Your claim is most likely a fabrication… India is one of the six observers at CERN, along with Russia, EU, Turkey, United States, Japan and UNESCO, and is about to become an Associate Member.

    Read the info on their official website.

    Recommend

  • zahid
    Jun 22, 2013 - 11:29AM

    potential of being free thinkers, philosophers and mathematicians but ending up as technicians and welders.

    Recommend

  • True Indian
    Jun 22, 2013 - 11:32AM

    @Nabeel:
    Do u really beleive that…..

    Recommend

  • Muhammad Akram
    Jun 22, 2013 - 11:38AM

    Why aren’t such events discussed on media? Always fake intellectuals occupy the TV shows.

    Recommend

  • Randomstranger
    Jun 22, 2013 - 11:49AM

    I don’t get why we have to compete with India in everything. We should appreciate their success(which has been quite impressive) and they should respect ours. With that said, Pakistanis have a high potential, it’s only some feudal lords and tribals who keep Pakistan behind.

    Recommend

  • Nabeel
    Jun 22, 2013 - 11:55AM

    @True Indian:
    Believe?? I’ve worked in the gulf (UAE, Qatar and KSA) for over five years and it’s not a hypothetical belief, it’s a first hand information my friend. Indian non-muslims are almost being washed out of the high-end professional positions. Indian Muslims still occupy a majority of positions but surely, that won’t stay for long.

    Call it a self-proclaim or ‘apnu muu miyan mithhoo banna’ but Pakistani expats are more well-versed, dignified, confident and technically more sound than Indians and Phillippines here.

    Recommend

  • Taimoor
    Jun 22, 2013 - 12:05PM

    @Utkarsh: Fabrication eh? Maybe next time you’re in Geneva, you can attend the introductory presentation at CERN and clear your misconceptions!

    @Ronin: I wasn’t talking about who the Higgs-Boson is named after. I was talking about the number of scientists and engineers from different countries working at CERN.

    @Indians: learn to accept facts rather than calling observations as ‘fabrications’.

    Recommend

  • Hakim
    Jun 22, 2013 - 12:09PM

    @nabeel, that not true I an working in qatar past 10 years most high end job is with Indian . Pakistani expats are facing visa ban in most of GCC .

    Don’t write any thing which not true this article for Pakistani don’t bring India it

    Recommend

  • Indian professional
    Jun 22, 2013 - 12:12PM

    @Nabeel:
    O man..pls don’t give me crap..Although we never liked to be compared to pakistanis as there is no comparison. Still i would like to share the fact that Pakistanis are definately in more numbers but on labour oriented jobs,, and your arguments that pakis are more technically sound will fall flat by knowing that IIT and IIM are among the top 50 most technically advanced insitutions in the world.None of pakistan’s university in even top 500 gentlemen. Indians are more on the boards or directors positions acoss the globe. Regarding Gulf indians are in major stake controllers and owners of the business. Hope this demistifies your vision

    Recommend

  • dude
    Jun 22, 2013 - 12:13PM

    @Nabeel: refer their official website

    Recommend

  • Xnain
    Jun 22, 2013 - 12:16PM

    Such a news was also published a few years ago. Pakistani scientists have been working in CERN for quite some time now.

    Recommend

  • The Paki!
    Jun 22, 2013 - 12:17PM

    @ Nabeel
    I agree with you. I am also living outside Pakistan, in the far east region and I am a Chartered Accountant. I am not well aware about the other fields, but this is the fact that, Indians are no where near to us in the field of Accountancy. The Executives (Mostly European) of my company are going crazy to hire more Paki Accountants.

    Recommend

  • Mujtaba
    Jun 22, 2013 - 12:24PM

    @Ronin, yes it is named after Satyendra nath bose but due to his work in the 1920′s….at that time Pakistan did not exist. Moreover, please do look up how Dr. Salam’s work helped this project…

    Recommend

  • sm
    Jun 22, 2013 - 12:40PM

    @Taimoor:

    I actually visited CERN a couple of
    years ago on a scientific excursion.
    During the presentation I was
    surprised to know that Pakistan is on
    the 3rd or 4th position in the list of
    most scientists/engineers from a
    country working at CERN. Our eastern
    neighbors were down at around 8th/9th.
    :)

    yes, yes, yes…….Pakistan stands at 3rd or 4th, blessed with so many brilliant minds, that it is almost hard to believe.I mean, ignore the Nobel laureates and scientists from America,japan, Australia,Canada,Russia,china,south Korea,south american counties,UK,France,Germany,Italy….but Pakistan comes third.Neither India nor Pakistan’s contribution is any significant. All of the work done by both countries is just low end engineering work hired probably because of low cost.

    This kind of chest thumping articles are more rampant on ET.Why don’t you publish some scientific article so that the readers can understand the world of sub atomic particles other than these “feel good” stuff which only fuels more delusion into readers.

    Recommend

  • Proud Pakistani
    Jun 22, 2013 - 12:49PM

    Who is Dr Abdus Salaam? , is he the fellow we rewarded by calling him Kafir and not allowing him to have islamic scripture on his gravestone. Is he the fellow we refuse to teach about in school textbooks because he called himself an Ahmadi Muslim? , is he the fellow that set up a university in Italy for underprivilged science students to get a higher education (notably many Pakistanis have graduated from here) , is he the man we refuse to name a road after or celebrate in our own country because of his religion? – someone please explain

    Recommend

  • mc duffy
    Jun 22, 2013 - 12:54PM

    @Ronin: fabricate stories? wake up! read what he wrote clearly, our scientists are much better.

    Recommend

  • kanwal
    Jun 22, 2013 - 1:13PM

    Why does something as exciting as this e,periment have to become a source of disagreement between indian and pakistani readers? @taimoor: you started it.
    We have ahuge contribution in both its theory and workings now. Lets be proud together.

    Recommend

  • Russian
    Jun 22, 2013 - 1:15PM

    @Taimoor @mc duffy Chest thumping a aside. CERN has Scientists from all over the world working on different things. This is a experiment which has no implications for the development or any industrial uses for humanity as of now. The cost matters in this case, so most of the Electrical parts were manufactured in India, China and other countries where you can get the job done for cheap. Before making large claims may be you have to look up on the website, India is given observer status along with Russia, Japan, USA, and Turkey.

    Recommend

  • Indian
    Jun 22, 2013 - 1:19PM

    @Chest thumping Pakistanis Please have a look here

    http://international-relations.web.cern.ch/International-Relations/obs/india.html

    And show me where is Pakistan in the official website.

    Thanks

    Recommend

  • RRK_Meyrin
    Jun 22, 2013 - 1:37PM

    What a joke! The Pakistanis are actually doing manual labor at CERN or bumming around while pretending they are scientists. They contribute so little to the ideas and planning in meetings and don’t seem to know any physics when in discussion with others. Fact the facts: they are told to make some simple pieces of equipment in their home country which they dutifully do. Then they are told how to test it step by step. CERN is kind enough to ask them to visit and install some perfectly ordinary stuff. Of course this makes CERN look international whereas 99.99% work is done by others.

    Recommend

  • Nabeel
    Jun 22, 2013 - 1:42PM

    @Russian:
    Agree that this experiment may not have any significant implications for humanity, but our problem is that we don’t get to see such news that often in media outlets. With media giants like CNN, NYT, BBC & RT who are almost always portraying Pakistan and its residents as hysterical mullah dominant taliban extermists, this news by ET is just a symbol that we, the Pakistanis can also do good work !

    Recommend

  • ZZQ
    Jun 22, 2013 - 2:00PM

    What kinda looser attitude is this… why shun’t v say that scientists from both Pakistan and India are contributing in this global experiment…

    Recommend

  • amoghavarsha.ii
    Jun 22, 2013 - 2:00PM

    @author and other pakistani readers…
    why do u people always want to show that you are better than Indians, Why can’t u show that your the best in the world. That is what we Indians try to do. That is what every body should try to do.
    Some body saying somebody is crazy for pakistani accountancy jobs and not Indians? What kind of closed well comparison is this. India is much larger economy than middle eastern countries, and the amount of R&D done here is much much more, accounts people are required more in India, still they go out and work for better pay, why will people hire high priced accountants.
    This is all economy for the hirer. NOT the nationality?
    Still the Highest paid jobs in most banks have some indians. But nobody gloats about it in India.

    You should come and watch IIM campus interviews then you will stop speaking about hiring in middle east.

    Recommend

  • sunil
    Jun 22, 2013 - 2:06PM

    Great that pakistan is also a part of it. Not only Indian scientists are part of CERN, our Indian philosophy is also a part of CERN experiment. The huge statue of dancing Lord Shiva outside CERN building has deep philosophical meanings and is a respect to that link which connect religion with science.

    Recommend

  • Ibad
    Jun 22, 2013 - 2:38PM

    All Pakistanis except once that Indians excels in every field. It will stop those Indians who always poke nose in Pakistani newspapers. secondly, emulate Europe of America in science and forget about third class science in India and South Asia. India is a huge country in every field like a lion as compare to Pakistan, but their mind and heart is of that of sparrow. Hence, they do not waste anytime mocking at Pakistan.

    Recommend

  • gohar
    Jun 22, 2013 - 2:59PM

    @Ronin: Satyendra nath bose was a world renowned physicist but he has nothing to do with cern .he never worked on god particle.the scientists working on it named it higgs boson in order to honour his work in mathmatical physics

    Recommend

  • Fudge
    Jun 22, 2013 - 3:20PM

    Wow! so this discussion had to be on Pakistan V India then anything on the work being done by the Pakistanis. We have just too much time. This explains our mentality very well.

    Recommend

  • obaid
    Jun 22, 2013 - 4:12PM

    its a shame these talented workers are abroad and not in our country. imagine them working in our country? wouldn’t we prosper?

    Recommend

  • Proud Pakistani
    Jun 22, 2013 - 4:44PM

    Whats all this rubbish Pakistani versus Indian ego? – Dr Salaam was a great Pakistani and contributed to CERN in a momentus manner. When he won his Nobel Prize he visited his old science teacher in India and put his medal around his teachers neck as a gesture of respect.. Please put your ego’s away (on both sides) and live by the motto Love for all hatred for none!

    Recommend

  • Sunny Aneel
    Jun 22, 2013 - 5:20PM

    Thank God, we Pakistanis are doing some positive work in the world too……

    Recommend

  • schabboo khan
    Jun 22, 2013 - 5:24PM

    @Taimoor:
    This is a double-edged sword. We should be rightly proud that our scientists are collaborating at an international level in exploring the frontiers of scientific research, at the same time we should be sorry that we cannot provide them similar opportunities in our own country where the state of education and science is dismal, to say the least.

    Recommend

  • jibran
    Jun 22, 2013 - 6:05PM

    Mouse said to the elephant, “the bridge is shaking because of OUR weight”.

    Recommend

  • jibran
    Jun 22, 2013 - 6:42PM

    Our two “top most” scientists were convinced and vouched for the waterkit scam. Speaks volumes about the level of education and the expertise of the “scientists” working in government organizations.

    Recommend

  • Umer
    Jun 22, 2013 - 6:46PM

    @Taimoor:

    Pakistan is on the 3rd or 4th position in the list of most scientists/engineers from a country working at CERN.

    Possibly because Pakistan does not have much use for them internally?

    Recommend

  • antanu
    Jun 22, 2013 - 7:47PM

    @RRK_Meyrin:
    come on CERN is not scarcity project.:…. it’s science and it can not hire the Pakistanis just out of chaarity. come on be sporting and appreciate their achievements. your comment would not make any negative impact upon them but it would certainly reflect upon your mental and intellectual status.but then bias does funnier things with the people

    Recommend

  • bangash
    Jun 22, 2013 - 8:17PM

    Nice to see some good news. Thanks

    Recommend

  • Jun 22, 2013 - 10:30PM

    @Indian Chestthumping Pakistanis Please have a look here
    http://international-relations.web.cern.ch/International-Relations/obs/india.html
    And show me where is Pakistan in the official website.
    Thanks

    Here, http://international-relations.web.cern.ch/International-Relations/nms/pakistan.html

    Regards,
    A Chestthumping Pakistani !

    Recommend

  • someone
    Jun 23, 2013 - 4:49AM

    Well if CERN is successful with this experiment on what it intends to do then it will be the death of all religions. Human would be able to generate the minutest particle which is the unit of the entire universe. It would simple mean the non existence of god.It will be ironical for religious countries like India and Pakistan.

    Recommend

  • Rafi Ka Deewana
    Jun 23, 2013 - 5:27AM

    Very proud of Pakistani contribution. Not sure why they started to compare themselves with the Indians. Here is just a small list of India’s hardware and software contribution to the project worth many millions of Swiss Francs.

    Superconducting Magnets (# Sextupole(MCS), Decapole(MCD) and Octupole (MCO) (1848 units).
    Electronics and controls- Protection system (# Quench Protection System Power supply (5500 units), # Control Electronics for Circuit Breaker – Energy Extraction System (70))
    Mechanical System (# Precision Magnet Positioning system (PMPS)Jacks (6800 units))
    Cryogenic System (# 4.2K test facility for testing of large no of SC magnets; # Liquid Nitrogen Tanks( Large Capacity))
    Engineering Design Studies (#QRL-SSS Jumper Flexibility Analysis # LHC Dumps Vacuum Lines)
    Software Development, Test and Measurements of Cryomagnets (50man-yrs)

    India has been working with CERN since the 1960′s.

    Recommend

  • Dr.A.K.Tewari
    Jun 23, 2013 - 8:55AM

    Very interesting comments above . Pakistan should also feel proud of being a part of the team of expert who is handling Drone operation from the Nevada desert at California ,US . But in contrast to it their parliament is raising voice against it ………???

    Recommend

  • Muhammad Saim
    Jun 23, 2013 - 9:54AM

    No mention of Dr. Salam ?

    This experiment is all about Dr. AbdusSalam’s thoery!

    Pakistani scientist at the CERN lab, again efforts of Dr. Salam.

    Recommend

  • dj
    Jun 23, 2013 - 11:19AM

    @someone:
    u mean dharmic religions too?

    Recommend

  • Water Bottle
    Jun 23, 2013 - 2:56PM

    Extremely stupid comments both by Indians and Pakistanis.

    Indians, first of all, there was no need to say anything negative, as the article was about Pakistan’s accomplishment.

    Pakistanis, why did you have to compare to Indians? Because India’s contribution to science and technology is small.

    Recommend

  • Someone
    Jun 23, 2013 - 5:08PM

    @RRK_Meyrin: You are a Mr. Nobody and will always remain an irrelevant nobody. Don’t get too conflated with your typical Indian chest thumping. We all know the standard of your third-class science and technology in India that has no comparison to America, Europe, China, Japan or other developed science economies.

    Oh and while you’re at it, here’s also a treat for you.
    http://international-relations.web.cern.ch/International-Relations/nms/pakistan.html

    Regards,
    A non-chest-thumping non-Indian

    Recommend

  • Ayush
    Jun 23, 2013 - 5:53PM

    @gohar:
    What do you you think, they named it randomly after some famous Indian scientist? No. They named it after him because his work in maths & physics helped them immensely in understanding the Higgs-Boson. There are many famous/brilliant scientists going right back to antiquity but the particle was not named after them. Read about his work, it had a profound impact on the Higgs-Boson.

    Recommend

  • Ibn Warraq
    Jun 23, 2013 - 6:34PM

    Is the Pakistanis’ high end research of the Water Car variety? In UK Pakistani Medical students boycott class on Evolution. Its high time Pakistani “scientists” at CERN boycott the Higgs-Boson lest it goes against religion.Recommend

  • 1984
    Jun 23, 2013 - 6:50PM

    @Taimoor:
    Wow,you started a troll war by stating a false info…..If anyone had the time to look at the number of CERN users in their website……

    It clearly shows 146 CERN Users from India and 22 CERN users from Pakistan…..

    http://international-relations.web.cern.ch/International-Relations/obs/india.html

    http://international-relations.web.cern.ch/International-Relations/nms/pakistan.html

    Strangely you forgot to mention the Infidel Nataraja Statue at the entrance of CERN and didnt ask them why none of the 22 Pakistanis consider it blasphemy to be kept there

    http://www.fritjofcapra.net/shiva.html

    Recommend

  • Someone
    Jun 24, 2013 - 7:51PM

    Dear Indian trolls, please read this http://tribune.com.pk/story/567121/top-world-lab-pakistani-physicists-eye-stronger-cern-links/

    Once you do the above and manage to keep quiet, please return to doing what Indians do – that is, attending call centre inquiries. An inpatient customer is getting unhappy waiting for you to attend them while you troll Pakistani newspapers in your faarigh time.

    Recommend

More in Pakistan