I just finished reading a very nice piece on the Guardian, written by my friend and ex colleague Eleni Petrakou, who collaborated with me in the CMS experiment at CERN and is now a scientific writer. The topic is the disruptive effect that the war in Ukraine has caused to scientific collaboration. I urge you to read it if the matter is of any interest to you.

The question that came up quite prominently as the war was started last March was what to do with the authorship of collaborative scientific publications by Russian colleagues and Russian institutions that participate in international experiments around the world. The matter was not decided in a coherent way in all countries; directives were issued by various governments and those differed significantly even within the European Union. But for CERN, that hosts a number of large collaborations which include a significant number of Russian institutions and participants, the topic was made even more complex by the status of CERN as an international organization. Countless discussions took place within the experiments and across the lab, and the matter took a long time to settle. In fact, it still hasn't.

I must admit I have not followed the process in as much detail as did many of my colleagues. To me, the issue is rather clear - I believe in the transnational value of research in fundamental science and its worth for the benefit of humanity, and I do not believe in borders between countries. To me, excluding scientists from collaborative work because of the colour of their passport is a stupid idea, period. Of course, once the above statement is made, it is necessary to also reason on the potential harm that continuing "business as usual" produces through the apparent message "this is normality". No, wars should not be normal in a modern, civilized world; and scientists must stand united in condemning them. However, hindering the free exchange of ideas and research by likening it to goods which one can leverage to create sanctioning schemes is counter-productive.

As I discussed recently in this column, I have been serving since last November as the President of an independent, international organization called "USERN". USERN stands for "Universal Scientific Education and Research Network", and it has the goal of supporting interdisciplinary science across borders. Borders between countries, borders between disciplines, borders between people of different religions and status. The concept of borders, if you think about it, is very negative, a constraining device meant to prevent free flow of people, information, goods, values, knowledge for the benefit of all sides. You may well imagine that my position as a scientist and my position as USERN President could not be more aligned than when it comes to this matter.

I imagine that this topic has a high potential of raising heated discussions, because of the high stakes of the present political situation. I invite you to leave your opinion in the comments thread below, but do not expect to engage me in a debate. I think my opinion was expressed clearly enough above, and I do not pretend to change yours. Thank you for your understanding.