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Taking the reins

Image: ESS

The director-general of the European Spallation Source is fast finding his feet on its Swedish construction site, as Laura Greenhalgh reports.

“It’s like learning to ride a horse when you’ve been dropped onto one,” says John Womersley, the British physicist who took over as director-general at the European Spallation Source last month.

The former chief of the UK’s Science and Technology Facilities Council is now in charge of bringing to fruition the world’s most advanced neutron source—a €1.8-billion facility that will use a particle beam to generate neutrons through a process called spallation. The neutrons will be used by thousands of researchers, mainly material scientists and biologists, to look at crystalline and molecular structures.

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