“With the Einstein Telescope, [Dutch] Limburg and this Euregio have gold in their hands. The facilities and the environment for scientists here are excellent and the infrastructure is good. I am very impressed with the Einstein Telescope and will support this region from Europe. There is global demand for this technology. Even the ET Pathfinder is already a unique piece of science worldwide.”
With that statement, European Commission First Vice-President Frans Timmermans concluded his visit to the Einstein Telescope test facility ET Pathfinder and the Dutch project office for Einstein Telescope on Friday 10 March. Frans Timmermans was among the guests in Maastricht at the invitation of the Dutch Province of Limburg. Here, he was updated on the status and planning of the telescope and guests were given an explanation about the ET Pathfinder.
Perspective for future generations
Director Guido Derks of the Dutch project office for Einstein Telescope used the map of the Euregio Meuse-Rhine to show how much this is an international, cross-border initiative, where Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany must jointly come up with a convincing bid book. He also pointed out that the Einstein Telescope is not only of great scientific value, but also provides prospects for future generations in economic and social terms. In addition, Derks said he hopes that even more European countries will join the Einstein Telescope initiative. Any attention to this from the European Commission could help, Frans Timmermans was told.
Magic of gravitational wave research
Stefan Hild, professor of experimental physics at Maastricht University and project leader of the ET Pathfinder, spoke about the ‘magic’ of gravitational wave research and its importance for science. He outlined how the research work for the test stand ET Pathfinder is laying a solid foundation for the Einstein Telescope. Meanwhile, 25 universities from seven countries are collaborating within the ET Pathfinder. There is also a lot of interest from Japan and the United States.
Using examples, PhD student Zeb van Ranst illustrated that, in the future, the Einstein Telescope will yield new technologies that can also be used outside the scientific field.
Mementos from the soil
Frans Timmermans, who hails from Heerlen in Dutch Limburg, was given an original memento to take back to Brussels when he bid farewell to Governor Emile Roemer of the Dutch province: a bell jar containing a cross-section of the region’s soil structure. Geologist Bjorn Vink, who works from Nikhef for the Einstein Telescope project office, had compiled this regional ‘cocktail’ of soil samples taken from previous drilling to a depth of 251 metres at Terziet and Cottessen.
Later in the day, a Flemish delegation was a guest at the Einstein Telescope project office. At the invitation of Dutch deputy Stephan Satijn, Belgian-Limburg governor Jos Lantmeesters, vice-rector Ken Haenen of Hasselt University and director Noel Slangen of POM-Limburg, among others, had come to Maastricht. Again, director Guido Derks explained the cross-border cooperation, which is the basis for presenting a strong bid book in a few years’ time. He mentioned the economic and social opportunities that the arrival of the Einstein Telescope will bring. University lecturer Gideon Koekoek of Maastricht University took the company into that magical world of scientific opportunities and challenges.
Photos: Province of Limburg / Aron Nijs