In 2016, 54.6% of the Swiss people voted to phase out the country's five nuclear power plants. Maurice at that moment wanted to understand as a scientist what was going on. He wants to understand nuclear physics, having devoted his life to particle physics via accelerators and then in space through experiments that are currently being conducted in the International Space Station (ISS).
Is nuclear power bad for the world as an energy source? Are there ways to improve it? Should we abandon nuclear power forever in Switzerland and in other countries?
In order to understand these issues, Maurice takes the long view and looks at what is being done around the world. This is his great strength. By moving from science to "science policy," he has been able to sit on many scientific bodies that determine research programs.
For example, he represented Switzerland on the European Committee for Future Accelerators, whose role is to promote super high-energy accelerator complexes and their international exploitation and to foster research and development of necessary technology.
He participated in the Swiss National Science Foundation, a prestigious body that seeks to understand the major challenges for science, to define a work program and to fund projects.
At CERN, where he spent part of his career, he participated in the bodies that define the major research programs and the experiment selection committees. He even ended up as President of the CERN Council.
These activities have given him a broader perspective on what can and cannot be done. He recently conducted a study on thorium for the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation with Jean-Christophe de Mestral. This work is now included in the Swiss energy strategy as a possible avenue for the future. As is the use of ADS to produce energy.
Because, as you will have understood, all this research led Maurice to think that another nuclear energy was possible and that Transmutex could write part of this history.
His thorough knowledge of the world of accelerators and research centers made it possible to reach strategic agreements for Transmutex within the framework of the international coordination of intelligence that the company wishes to set up, in particular on the subject of accelerators. He has travelled the world to collect as much experience as possible on nuclear energy and particle accelerators.
When he is not travelling the world, Maurice swims. He swims every day, in the swimming pool or in Lake Geneva. The temperature of the water and air does not scare him. Every year he takes part in the famous Christmas Cup in Lake Geneva: on the Sunday of the last weekend before Christmas, the participants must, in groups of 25, cover a distance of 120 meters in water of around 6°C, without wetsuits, fins or gloves. Maurice never misses one of these races. So now you have an idea of the strength of character of this man of knowledge and tact.
Maurice Bourquin has obtained a doctorate in physics at the University of Geneva, Switzerland, and conducted experimental research in particle physics at several high-energy accelerator laboratories, such as CERN, DESY in Germany, Brookhaven National Laboratory and Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in the USA. The research included kaon decays, high transverse momentum leptons, hyperon decays and interactions, electron-positron interactions.
Professor of physics and President of the University of Geneva, he has contributed in particular to the institutional rapprochement between Swiss universities, the implementation of the Bologna Declaration and the foundation of the League of European Research Universities. He has served in the Research Council of the Swiss National Science Foundation and in several international scientific committees. He has been a Swiss delegate to the CERN Council and has served as President of CERN Council. He has turned his scientific interests towards the detection of particles from space with the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer project on the International Space Station. This activity required the implementation of a space qualified infrastructure as well as research and technical teams at the University of Geneva to build a silicon tracking detector. He has contributed to several organizations responsible for astroparticle physics research, and chaired the Astroparticle Physics European Coordination (ApPEC).
As Professor emeritus, he has initiated applications of accelerator-based methods for medical applications and reduction of radioactive waste from nuclear power plants with a private company and with the international Thorium Energy Committee (iThEC). He is a founding member of the Transmutex Scientific Board.