There has been a long tradition of high energy physics collaborations in Georgia, especially with JINR and CERN, but one of their major efforts since 1992 has been in intermediate energy physics at the COoler SYnchrotron (COSY) at the Institut für Kernphysik (IKP) of the Forschungszentrum Jülich, Germany. In order to enhance and develop this cooperation further, the first Caucasian-German School and Workshop in Hadron Physics was held in Tbilisi 30 August - 4 September, 2004. Organized jointly by the High Energy Physics Institute (HEPI) of Tbilisi State University (TSU) and the IKP, and supported by the UNESCO regional bureau for Science in Europe (ROSTE). The meeting with 70 participants (about one third of them students), was the largest physics gathering held in Georgia since its independence in 1990.
As evidence of this cooperation, the session was opened by the President of the Georgian Academy of Sciences (Albert Tavkhelidze), the Rector of the TSU (Roin Metreveli), the UNESCO representative (Merab Eliashvili), and the Deputy of the German Ambassador (Mirko Schilbach).
In the introductory talk, the director at IKP, Hans Ströer, described how the present hadronic physics programs at accelerators such as COSY would lead to new opportunities at future machines, especially at the FAIR facility at GSI-Darmstadt. This balance between the current research and the new opportunities was kept throughout the subsequent 7 review lectures and 40 specialized talks, where particular emphasis was given to meson and strange isobar production, and experiments with polarised protons and deuterons. The latter led naturally to discussions on the possibilities for polarised antiprotons at FAIR.
Of particular local interest was the proposal, put forward by Revaz Shanidze, for the creation of a TANDEM (The Accelerator based Nuclear Dating and Environmental Monitoring) regional center for applied research in the Caucasus region, in cooperation with the University of Erlangen (Erhard Steffens). More current research by HEPI members was also presented, though the 45 minute expose of life for a Georgian physicist working in Germany, given in Georgian by the principal organizer of the meeting (Andro Kacharava), was more aimed at the Georgian public and future students.
No meeting in Georgia could fail to explore its vast cultural heritage of churches and monasteries, set in a beautiful mountainous landscape. Museum directors explained the details of Georgian architecture, jewellery dating back before the Golden Fleece, and showed the remains of the earliest humans found in Europe.
The meeting, whose proceedings will be published at the Forschungszentrum Jülich (http://www.fz-juelich.de/zb/Verlag), has already proved itself a scientific success through its strengthening of collaborations between Georgian and other European physicists. The HEPI Director (Mikheil Nioradze) therefore proposed that such workshops should be held on a regular basis, on a two-year cycle, and this met with general approval.