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Disturbed contacts with Russian colleagues


It would take two days to wake eROSITA up again, says Predehl. So far there is no indication that this will happen. A takeover by Russia alone, which was recently announced by Roskosmos boss Dmitri Rogozin, has not yet taken place – Russian scientists have also contradicted this. For that long, the astrophysicists will have to make do with what the telescope has already delivered.

Arctic researcher Anne Morgenstern faces a similar problem. “The fact that the data series from the Lena Delta is breaking off is a big headache for us,” she says. “We hope that our Russian colleagues will continue somehow.” But that is difficult, because some analyzes have so far been carried out in the AWI laboratories. In addition, the German side supported a lot with the logistics. »Of course there is the wish that it will continue on Samoylov, but we all know that this is currently impossible«, says Morgenstern. The AWI is now shifting its focus, working more in other polar regions such as Svalbard, Greenland or Canada.

However, she is still in contact with some researchers in Russia. “We exchange ideas, ask how things are going, what the other is doing,” she explains. There is also a scientific exchange: The AWI examines which data collected before the start of the war can be evaluated and published in order to make them accessible to the global community. After all, it is basic research that helps, among other things, to counteract climate change.

“Something big is at stake here, Putin is threatening the free western world”(Christian Stegmann, Director of Astroparticle Physics at Desy)

The board of directors of the Desy research center, with locations in Hamburg and Zeuthen near Berlin, is pursuing a significantly more restrictive sanctions policy. It goes so far that it does not want to appear on a website with Russian institutions, for example at conferences. “We ask that the participants from Russia are listed as scientific personalities, but without naming their institute, or that this assignment is deleted for all,” says Christian Stegmann, Director for Astroparticle Physics. All publications with Russian scientists were also initially stopped, and decisions are now being made on a case-by-case basis. The researcher admits that one is often faced with a dilemma. For example, in large-scale experiments at the LHC particle accelerator in Geneva. “If data are available, they should be published,” says Stegmann. »It would be scientifically wrong to remove certain authors from the publication.« The compromise now: The data are published on preprint servers under the names of the collaborations such as CMS or ATLAS.

hope for better times

Anyone who asks around in science about Russia often finds understanding for the decisions, senses hope for better times and inner turmoil. Stegmann is extremely clear: personal contacts – absolutely maintained, cooperation with institutions – are not possible at all. “Something big is at stake here, Putin is threatening the free western world,” he says. »We are the first to build bridges again, but not in the current situation.«

Ulrike Hillemann-Delaney, Head of International Affairs at the TU Berlin, emphasizes that this requires the will of both sides. »When I see that the rectors of Russian universities support the procedure in Ukraine, I cannot recognize this will.« She hopes that one day cooperation will be possible again, for several reasons. “For certain global challenges such as climate change or health, data exchange is essential. We cannot solve these problems without Russia,” she says. There are also excellent researchers there, especially in mathematics and the natural sciences. “It would only be good if their expertise were heard and used.” The mutual exchange of students and doctoral students, in which the young people get to know each other’s country, is also a benefit, according to Hillemann-Delaney. The course to freeze any cooperation is supported by the TU members “by and large”, she says. “Depending on further developments, we must and will continue to discuss the measures in the future.”



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