Brookhaven National Laboratory Director Praveen Chaudhari has announced a $13-million private contribution that will enable the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC) to operate for 20 full weeks this year. The money was raised by Jim Simons, a member of the Board of Brookhaven Science Associates, which manages and operates the laboratory (see http://www.bnl.gov/bnlweb/Admin/BSA.asp).
This is a remarkable change in this year's outlook for RHIC, which under the FY 2006 Energy and Water Development Appropriations Bill was being forced to postpone its run until late this year. During the Senate's final consideration of this bill in November, Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY), Charles Schumer (D-NY), John Warner (R-VA), George Allen (R-VA), Harry Reid (D-NV) and Pete Domenici (R-NM) discussed the impact that the 8.4% or $34.0 million reduction in funding for the Nuclear Physics program would have on facility operations. Senators described dramatic reductions in run times for RHIC in New York (-61%) and the Jefferson National Laboratory in Virginia (-29%) resulting from the FY 2006 appropriation, which was the amount of funding originally requested by the Bush Administration. Brookhaven officials predicted staff layoffs as a result of the funding reduction. (See http://www.aip.org/fyi/2005/168.html.) While the senators agreed that DOE had broad reprogramming authority, it appeared that money could only be shifted from other accounts within the Office of Science budget.
The following is the full text of the statement by Director Chaudhari:
"January 13, 2006
"I am very pleased to announce that a group of partners at Renaissance Technologies Corporation and members of the Board of Directors of Brookhaven Science Associates (BSA) have made a remarkably generous contribution to the Stony Brook Foundation. The Stony Brook Foundation plans to use this contribution to enter into a Work for Others agreement with BSA to enable the operation of RHIC (the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider) this fiscal year.
"Jim Simons, a member of the BSA Board and President of Renaissance Technologies, an investment management company, initiated and led the drive to raise the money.
"A giant atom ‘smasher,' RHIC is a world-class facility for the study of nuclear physics.
"The Work for Others agreement between the Stony Brook Foundation and BSA, which we expect will be concluded very soon, will enable RHIC to continue to explore the smallest known pieces of matter—the tiny quarks and gluons that make up protons and neutrons—and how they interact.
"All of us at Brookhaven Lab, including the 1,000 visiting scientists and students who collaborate on world-class science at RHIC, greatly appreciate the generosity and leadership of Jim and the Renaissance group in raising the $13-million contribution to the Stony Brook Foundation. He has done a great service for the Laboratory and the science community.
"The Department of Energy's Office of Science has given Brookhaven National Laboratory very strong support for RHIC, and the international headlines garnered by RHIC science every year are in large measure the result of DOE's commitment to funding nuclear physics. In the light of budget constraints, DOE had planned to fund 12 weeks of RHIC operations in FY06, but unexpected increases in electric power costs had made this limited level of operation impossible. Now, with the $13-million contribution to the Stony Brook Foundation and the planned Work for Others agreement between the Stony Brook Foundation and BSA, the Laboratory will be able to operate RHIC for a full 20 weeks. This run should begin in early February.
"I also recognize the solid commitment to the Laboratory from Senators Hillary Clinton and Chuck Schumer and from Congressman Tim Bishop, who have worked tirelessly on behalf of Brookhaven Lab.
"All of us are looking forward to more exciting and intriguing results from RHIC."