While it may have been quite an undertaking, both physical and financial, the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) in Geneva, Switzerland, has proven to be one of the most important scientific builds or experiment, paving the way for a new era in particle physics and at that, making such significant discoveries as the confirmation of “God Particle” Higgs Boson and even coming quite close to breaking the speed of light (although the jury is still out on that).
The LHC is one of a number of particle accelerators or synchrotrons around the world and in a move, quite contrary to the region’s politics, the Middle East will be having its own synchrotron, as the Sesame synchrotron particle accelerator project in Jordan has finally gotten a completion date with development rapidly picking up.
The multimillion-dollar project is a collaboration between dozens of countries with several Arab states onboard as well as Turkey, Pakistan, Cyprus, Iran and even Israel.
The project itself had been languishing for years, but it seems that now, regardless of the politics and antagonism between the various partner states, the Sesame project (which itself stands for Synchrotron-light for Experimental Science and Applications in the Middle East) has gotten their full attention, with construction of the particle accelerator at an “advanced stage” and the next round of funding for the project already made. Commitment to the project has gone so far as to see both Israeli and Iranian scientists and officials meet last month in Amman for talks about the project. It is expected that by 2015, the first experiments will be able to be conducted at Sesame.
Speaking about the project to the BBC, Prof. Sir Chris Llewellyn Smith, head of the governing council and former director of CERN said, “Science is a common language - if we can speak it together, possibly we can build bridges of trust which will help in other areas."
Also commenting, Prof. Eliezer Rabinovici, a physicist from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, said, "We are having a rough period now - a very rough period - and it may become even rougher. But I think that as scientists, we have to look at the long range, and in the long range we see no conflict of interest between the people of Iran and the people of Israel."
Prof. Mahmoud Tabrizchi from Isfahan University added, “Every scientist needs tools to work with and train his or her students but it costs a lot to buy instruments, especially good instruments. But this machine covers a large percentage of the needs of the scientists of this region. This is kind of helping each other to have a big machine to help everybody; the purpose of Sesame is to bring scientists to work together."
Iran, Israel, Turkey and Jordan have all pledged $5 million for the project with the European Union also promising $5m with Pakistan offering $5m in kind.