AMMAN — The Middle East’s first particle accelerator is closer to seeing the light of day after recent funding pledges from countries ranging from Israel to Iran.
Tel Aviv, Tehran, Amman and Ankara have each pledged $5 million to keep alive an initiative to boost scientific research and cooperation in the region, Jordanian officials announced on Wednesday.
With pledges secured last week in a meeting in Amman, officials are one step closer to completing Synchrotron-light for Experimental Sciences in the Middle East (SESAME), a Jordan-based regional research facility designed to boost application of experimental physics, according to Khaled Toukan, SESAME director.
“With these pledges we are now set to advance scientific research and cooperation in the region,” he told The Jordan Times.
An additional $15 million in funding is required to complete the $110-million centre, Toukan added, expressing hope that the multi-country SESAME board will be able to secure the funds by the end of the year.
The UNESCO-sponsored initiative, modelled after the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN) is to house the Middle East’s first synchrotron-light accelerator to be used by Arab, Israeli and Turkish researchers and scientists alike.
Officials expect to complete the centre, based near the city of Salt, some 15 kilometres outside of Amman, by 2015, to facilitate experiments with applications in a range of fields from medical sciences to archaeological excavations.
Open to scientists, researchers and graduate students, SESAME aims to reverse a decades-old regional trend of brain drain by providing facilities whose absence has long forced physicists and researchers to go abroad to complete their studies.
The initiative was designed to encourage countries across the Middle East to find common ground in sciences away from divisive regional politics, with a board comprising Bahrain, Cyprus, Egypt, Iran, Israel, Jordan, Pakistan, the Palestinian Authority and Turkey.
The EU and the US, which serve as SESAME “observers”, have also provided funding for the regional scientific initiative.