DPG President Rolf-Dieter Heuer chairs the council of the new SESAME Accelerator Centre in the Middle East

By . Published on 22 May 2017 in:
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On 16 May 2017 the ultra-modern accelerator centre opened in the presence of King Abdullah II of Jordan. A scholarship program of the German Physical Society enables young scientists to carry out research there.

On 16 May, King Abdullah II of Jordan opened the SESAME Accelerator Centre in the Middle East. Analogous to the founding of the particle research centre CERN near Geneva, SESAME is under the patronage of UNESCO. The presidency of the council of this light source of the most modern generation was taken up by the President of the German Physical Society (DPG) and ex-CERN CEO Rolf-Dieter Heuer. “Science can help promote a culture of tolerance and cooperation,” says Heuer. “Therefore, SESAME is so important to the region.”

SESAME stands for Synchrotron Light for Experimental Science and Applications in the Middle East. SESAME members include Jordan, Egypt, Iran, Israel, Pakistan, the Palestinian Authority, Turkey and Cyprus. Current observers are Brazil, Canada, the People’s Republic of China, the European Union, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Japan, Kuwait, Portugal, the Russian Federation, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States of America. The research centre is at the disposal of a growing community of about 300 scientists, who mainly come from the region. The research covers a very wide range of topics, extending from the search for new cancer drugs to the exploration of fine art objects and antiques.

Together with the European Physical Society (EPS), the Institute of Physics (IoP) and the American Physical Society (APS), the German Physical Society has been supporting the project for many years by means of a travel scholarship program. The scholarships enable talented physicists from the region to work and research at the accelerator centre. At least a quarter of the funds are earmarked for the promotion of brilliant women, while a further 25 per cent goes to young physicists or physicists.

The idea for the construction of the accelerator centre was established in the late nineties. Following the example of the European Particle Research Centre (CERN), the aim is to foster intercultural dialogue through scientific cooperation and – like CERN in Europe – to promote stability and peace in the region. The nucleus of the facility near Allan, north-east of the Jordanian capital Amman, was the Berlin electron accelerator BESSY I, which after modernisation is now part of the injector system of the new, state-of-the-art synchrotron light source.

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