Toespraak minister Van Engelshoven bij opening ETpathfinder

Minister Van Engelshoven (OCW) sprak bij de opening van ETpathfinder, op 8 november 2021 in Maastricht. De tekst is alleen in het Engels beschikbaar.

[Let op: het gesproken woord geldt!]

Dear friends,

For as long as human beings have walked this planet, they have looked to the skies above us. Into the universe. What is going on out there? To what purpose? And what does it all mean to us, down here on Earth?

More and more often, we find the answers to these questions below us. In recent years, we have made some of our greatest scientific discoveries in underground tunnels, that stretch for miles beneath our feet.

In 2012, we proved the existence of the famous Higgs boson, at the Large Hadron Collider in Geneva. In 2015, we detected gravitational waves for the first time, 100 years after Einstein's prediction. And in the near future, we hope to find even more answers, thanks to a promising new instrument: the Einstein Telescope.

Today, we are taking a big step towards realizing this project. Because today, here in Maastricht, after years of hard work involving a great many people, we are opening ETpathfinder. A remarkable and significant milestone. For the Province of Limburg, for the Netherlands, and for Europe.

Today, we are taking a big step towards realizing the Einstein Telescope.

I am proud that my ministry has contributed to this achievement. Because ETpathfinder is going to give a major boost to scientific innovation and progress. It will ensure even greater cooperation between the scientific field and the business community. It will strengthen European collaboration in research and innovation. And I am sure that talented people from home and abroad will come to Maastricht to work on this new instrument. In fact, this has happened already with the arrival of Stefan Hild! 

Moreover, ETpathfinder fits seamlessly with the government’s ambitions to invest in this kind of large-scale infrastructure. In doing so, we aim to maintain our place among the leading lights of the scientific world.

So we are going to do our very best, in close cooperation with Belgium and Germany, to bring the Einstein Telescope to the Netherlands as well. After all, this unique instrument offers us unprecedented research opportunities. And it will give an enormous boost to this entire region.

Rest assured, we will continue our collective efforts to find even more ways to put this region on the map, and to make the strongest possible case for our candidacy. That’s why, last week, I submitted a funding application for the Einstein Telescope to the National Growth Fund, together with my colleague at the Ministry of Economic Affairs. I expect to hear a decision in the spring.

We are going to do our very best to bring the Einstein Telescope to the Netherlands as well.

Dear friends,

Whether we will succeed in bringing the Einstein Telescope to Limburg remains to be seen. What I do know for certain, is that ETpathfinder represents a giant step in the right direction. It’s a wonderful achievement, one that will bring us all kinds of benefits for many years to come.

It is therefore a great honour for me to officially open ETpathfinder in a few moments. And I’m very much looking forward to all the new insights it will offer us.

Thank you.