SAN FRANCISCO—Israel, Iran, Jordan and Turkey will join forces to launch a new particle accelerator in the Middle East as part of a Unesco-sponsored project.
Announced on Wednesday (March 14), each of the four countries will put $5 million toward the new facility, dubbed Sesame, or Synchrotron-light for Experimental Science and Applications in the Middle East.
A further $15 million is being fundraised from Europe and the United States, with estimates saying the center will probably cost closer to $100 million in total, by the time it starts functioning in 2015.
The accelerator is different than the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland in that instead of being based on particle collisions, it uses cyclic beaming of electrons within the accelerator. The result is that when the electrons are accelerated they begin to radiate, and that radiation is then used for screening across a wide range of fields including pharmacology, physics, life sciences and archeology.
There are around 60 synchrotrons already in the world, but Sesame would be the first in the Middle East. The project will be using a synchrotron donated from Germany.
Unesco said the project aimed to "foster scientific and technological excellence in the Middle East and neighboring countries (and prevent or reverse brain drain) by enabling world-class research." It is also meant to "build scientific and cultural bridges between neighboring countries."
Sesame, which will be built in Amman, Jordan, will also boast representatives from the Palestinian Authority, Pakistan, Bahrain and Cyprus, according to Unesco. Egypt was initially pegged to be another co-sponsor, but had to pull out of the project owing to the recent political instability.
Speaking to Israel's Haaretz newspaper, the head of Israel's Planning and Budgeting Committee for the country's Council for Higher Education, Moshe Vigdor, said the initiative proved that "science crosses borders."