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Coronavirus pandemic has affected all sectors, including research centers around the world, many of whom have parked temporarily part of its scientific activity while the hands are put to work to help combat it .

This is the case of CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research responsible for the pharaonic LHC particle accelerator in which the Higgs boson was discovered in 2012. As its management team announced this week, on the one hand, its staff is designing and producing useful material to treat Covid-19 and prevent its spread; and on the other, it will try to take full advantage of the logistical and computational resources of this great research center based in Geneva, and whose physics laboratory is between Switzerland and France.

In this way, it will draw on the technical and scientific knowledge of the 17,000 experts linked to CERN around the world to collect and coordinate ideas that may be useful in dealing with the pandemic that has already killed 83,000 people worldwide. The initiatives are varied, are in different stages of development and range from simple proposals to the development of complex medical teams.

They include, for example, the production of large quantities of disinfecting ge and new proposals to manufacture fans, which have become one of the most demanded resources in this health crisis and of which there is a great shortage in most countries.

The initiative was launched on March 27 and on April 4, CERN opened a specific website on the coronavirus. Those responsible for this center dedicated to unraveling the mysteries of physics have offered their direct collaboration to the World Health Organization, with which there has been a cooperation agreement since 2011. "We don't want to do things because we think we do them better. We are offering our services so that the experts tell us how we can help," said Beniamino Di Girolamo, head of the CERN team focused on Covid.19. "It is impressive to see the quantity, variety and quality of the ideas," he adds.

3D printers and powerful computers

Among the projects already on the table are three proposals by particle physicists to design simple-to-manufacture fans , some of them based on the same technology they use for their physics experiments.

It also includes the use of the vehicle fleet to distribute resources in the regions near CERN, print medical material using its 3D printers, and make available the enormous computational capacity of CERN computers, which can be useful to accelerate development. of a vaccine .

Between April 3 and 5, CERN collaborated in an internet hackathon organized by the Swiss Government to develop tools against the coronavirus. Computational capacity is also being used to design tools for distance learning , such as Open Up2U. On the other hand, a platform in the US called Science Responds has been established to facilitate coordination among the research community around the world to combat the disease.

A ton of disinfecting gel will go to the Gendarmerie in the Pays de Gex region . This French police force will also have Perspex protective masks produced by CERN personnel. On the other hand, the fire department that CERN has to monitor the long tunnels of its particle physics laboratory have also been made available to the authorities to help manage this crisis.

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