Gov't OKs joining most exclusive scientific club: CERN

Cabint approves the move to join scientific organization; Israel receives recognition for contribution towards particle accelerator.

CERN particle accelerator 311 (photo credit: Courtesy)
CERN particle accelerator 311
(photo credit: Courtesy)
The cabinet approved on Sunday Israel’s joining CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, which is the world’s largest scientific organization in the field of physics.
The country has thus received additional international recognition for its leading contribution to research in general and specifically the CERN project working on the particle accelerator project.
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Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said after the unanimous vote that the official invitation to join CERN was an achievement that “reflects the latent capabilities of Israeli scientists and constitutes recognition of their ability.
Israel is joining an exclusive club, which provides unusual visibility, exposure, prestige and international status.”
The organization, based in Switzerland, creates the most sophisticated, advanced and expensive scientific infrastructure, he added, and Israel’s joining as an member in the organization is of great scientific, industrial and policy significance.
In December, Israel passed the acceptance stage toward its final invitation to become a member of CERN. More than two years ago, Israelis were among the 50 scientists in the control room of the Large Hadron Collider project located under the Swiss-French border.
Half a year ago, a CERN delegation visited Israel, examined its contribution and met with Science and Technology Minister Daniel Herschkowitz (Habayit Hayehudi). As a result, Israel has been named one of five countries recognized unanimously as “being worthy” of joining the project.
At first, Switzerland opposed Israel’s official participation but then changed its position.
The invitation process will be finalized in two years.
The particle accelerator project involves some 6,500 scientists from over 80 countries – including half of the world’s particle physics researchers – who are trying to bash together the tiny particles that make up the universe at mind-boggling speeds.
This will enable scientists to observe the extreme energies, mini-black holes and other phenomena that occurred during the first millionths of a second after the Big Bang – the mother of all explosions that led to the creation of the universe.
The ultimate hope of the project is that the findings will help explain the foundations of particle physics, and shed light on the basic forces and building blocks of nature.
So far, the project has cost around $10 billion and taken more than 15 years at the world’s largest particle physics laboratory – built in a circular tunnel buried 50 to 175 meters under Switzerland and France, with a circumference of 27 kilometers.
Israel’s high level of theoretical and practical know-how – much greater than Israel’s proportionate size – was appreciated at CERN and is responsible for Israel’s path toward recognition as an official member. CERN has even ordered parts from Israeli industry and sent experts to visit on a regular basis. In this respect Israel is among the top eight countries, along with scientists from Italy, France, Germany, Japan, Russia, the US and the UK.