Sunday, January 04, 2009

"SESAME opens doors to international collaboration"

Source: Herman Winick, Science News, January 17th, 2009; Vol.175 #2 (p. 32).

The international Centre for Synchrotron-light for Experimental Science and Applications in the Middle East(SESAME),created under the auspices of UNESCO, came into existence as an intergovernmental organization (IGO) on 15 April 2004. It is located in Allan (Jordan). The facility is now under construction as a "third-generation" 2.5 GeV (X-ray) light source which will have a total value of perhaps $100 million. The facility should offer great opportunities for scientists in the Middle East. "Nothing approaches the impact of X-rays as a tool for understanding materials — biological materials, semiconductor materials, catalytic chemical materials, environmental toxins, whatever."

I quote from the interview of Herman Winick, one of the originators of the concept of SESAME by Science News editor in chief Tom Siegfried:
The motivation for SESAME is as a facility for doing science and also for working together across countries and cultures as an example of how science can foster that kind of cooperation, right?

Precisely. UNESCO called it a model project for other regions.... It has brought together people. These nine countries include Turkey and Greek Cyprus, which sit at the same table. They don’t recognize each other. It includes Israel, the Palestinian authority, Iran and Pakistan
Editor's Note: The importance to U.S. long term science policy of a collaborative effort among the scientists of these often antagonistic countries is quite significant, especially as it has been achieved without major funding from the U.S. taxpayer. JAD

Physicist Herman Winick of the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center in Menlo Park, Calif proposed using equipment from a German synchrotron, BESSY, that was being replace as the seed for the international research facility in the Middle East. He also coined the name SESAME. Photo credit: Tom Siegfried

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