by Ian Randall. Published: 07 April 2011

A Memorandum of Understanding between ALICE and South Africa was signed by the Director General of the Ministry of Science and Technology of South Africa at the end of last month. Dr Phil Mjwara – who was accompanied by three of his colleagues – signed the document during a visit to CERN on the 21 March.

“This was a formal step - but still, it's an important formal step because it gives a structural framework of the participation,” said ALICE spokesperson, Paolo Giubellino.

CERN/Maximilien Brice

Dr Phil Mjwara and collegues, visiting the ALICE experiment with spokesperson Paolo Giubellino

South Africa has had a long relationship with ALICE – with two institutes, the University of Cape Town and iThemba LABS, actively participating – yet this relationship had yet to be formalized.

With a recent long term commitment by the South African government towards participation at CERN, plans are now underway to expand their activities – both within ALICE and ATLAS, but also to other accelerator experiments, such as ISOLDE – with the possibility of South Africa one day assuming the status of Associate Membership.

Accompanying this is the recent strengthening of South Africa’s computing impact at CERN – with the completion of a new network connection having vastly improved the ease of communication between researchers and the sharing of computing power.

The iThemba LABS are noted to be one of the driving forces behind experimentation in hadron therapy as a potential cancer relief – and are a welcome partner in CERN’s technology transfer programme in the field of medicine.

In addition, ALICE has seen a couple of other notable visits by VIP guests in the last month.

The 15 March saw the visit of Jae-Ill Byun, the chair of the Education and Scientific Technology Committee of the Republic of Korea – which represents the primary funding agency for Korean activity within CERN.

Jean-Claude Gadmer/CERN

J.-I. Byun, the Korean chair of the National Assembly Education and Scientific Technology Committee, visiting the ALICE exhibition with Collaboration Spokesperson P. Giubellino

Korea is involved with both the CMS and ALICE collaborations – with around 30 physicists from five different institutions working with ALICE – and is the source of both a substantial amount of computing power, which is made available for research, as well as active participation in the upgrading and enhancements of the ALICE experiment.

CERN

The Ukrainian Task Force, on their visit of CERN

Professor Volodymyr Semynozhenko, the head of Ukrainian State Agency for Science, Innovation and Technology visited ALICE on 17 March. The visit forms part of the ongoing collaboration between ALICE and Ukraine.

“This [relationship] has been instrumental to major hardware activities,” says Giubellino, who describes the visit itself as part of a “good consolidation work of a well established relationship”.