Italian physics and the Middle East

Reblogged from Science on the Net

On May 12, the Istituto Nazionale di Fisica Nucleare (INFN), Elettra Sincrotrone Trieste and the International Centre for Synchrotron-light for Experimental Science and Applications in the Middle East (SESAME) signed a scientific collaboration agreement. Aim of this cooperation is the development and implementation of Italian technology for the radio-frequency cavities for SESAME’s storage ring – radio-frequency cavities serve to re-supply the electrons with the energy they lose when emitting synchrotron light.

“SESAME is an ambitious project for the construction of the first synchrotron light source in the Middle East,” explains Giorgio Paolucci, scientific director of SESAME. “Today there are 12 synchrotrons in Europe (and a total of about 60 in the world) but none in the Middle East, although the need for them was recognized by eminent scientists such as the Pakistani Nobel Laureate Abdus Salam about 30 years ago”. The Centre, which is intergovernmental, brings together Bahrain, Cyprus, Egypt, Iran, Israel, Jordan, Pakistan, Palestinian Authority and Turkey (the Members), thus providing an extraordinary example of collaboration between entities with very diverse cultural, political and religious backgrounds.

“Perhaps the most significant feature of this project is that politics does not in any way interfere in the scientific research,” says Paolucci.

The project was born in the late nineties, thanks to the efforts of several scientists in and outside the region. These scientists proposed to use components of the BESSY I light facility in West Berlin, which was being decommissioned, to set up a synchrotron light source in the Middle East (following the re-unification of Germany it was decided to build a larger particle accelerator in East Berlin). The project then evolved and though a few of the BESSY I components, which have been greatly upgraded, are being used, SESAME is constructing a completely new 2.5 GeV storage ring, thus making it a state-of-the-art research centre.

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