Dignitaries gather to mark synchrotron's grand opening
Amid a parade of dignitaries that included one premier, two federal ministers and many members of the provincial cabinet, a raft of guests, a number of musicians, a giant mock-up of a wall switch and a light show simulating its eventual operation, the Canadian Light Source (CLS) was officially opened Oct. 22.
Federal Finance Minister Ralph Goodale headlined the opening ceremony that took place on the upper level of the $174-million synchrotron facility. He was joined on the dais by Saskatchewan Premier Lorne Calvert; Dr. Eliot Phillipson, president and CEO of the Canadian Foundation for Innovation; U of S President Peter MacKinnon; CLS Executive Director William Thomlinson who Calvert jokingly referred to as “Mr. Synchrotron”; and Arthur Carty, president of the National Research Council, national science advisor to the Prime Minister and chair of the CLS board, who served as master of ceremonies.
All speakers recognized the significance of the synchrotron, this country’s largest single science project and one of only about 40 such facilities in the world. The economic benefit the CLS will have on the city and province was also noted. Expected to draw scientists from around the world, the facility significantly expands the University’s research capacity, a fact that will have positive ramifications for both faculty and students, said MacKinnon.
Watching from the front row but not addressing the crowd was Stéphane Dion, federal minister of the environment. A large group of players with the Saskatoon Symphony Orchestra were positioned on the floor of the building to provide background accompaniment to the ceremony.
The culmination of the event involved the dignitaries ‘flipping’ the switch mock-up triggering a show of spot and strobe lights that illuminated the workings of the synchrotron. Originally expected to be up and running last January, the CLS now anticipates the inaugural experiment on its first beamline to take place in January 2005.
Lavina Carter in the user services office at the CLS said eight submissions for experiments have been received and are going through technical, health and safety and peer reviews. Beamtime, including that of the first CLS experiment, will be allocated when those reviews are complete, she said, probably in early December. Three of the eight submissions are from the U of S.
Matthew Dalzell, speaking for the CLS, said construction of the other seven beamlines is expected to be finished “near Christmas or in January”. Those beamlines will then move into the commissioning phase. Plans are to make those lines available to scientists “by spring or summer” next year, depending on the outcome of the testing phase, he said.
Part of the opening ceremony involved illuminating a banner for each of the 17 CLS partner organizations, including the University of Alberta, Alberta Heritage Foundation for Medical Research, the University of Western Ontario, GlaxoSmithKline Inc., and SaskPower. That Crown corporation is the principal electricity supplier to the facility that, when fully operational, will consume about 10 per cent of all the power used in Saskatoon.
The ceremony on campus was followed by a dinner that evening at the Centennial Auditorium. It again featured a light show as well as a performance by the University of Saskatchewan Amati Quartet in Residence. Ken Coates, former dean of arts and science, acted as master of ceremonies while Carty gave an after dinner address.