A $100 million project to build the Middle East’s new particle accelerator – the Synchrotron-Light for Experimental Science and Applications, or Sesame, is currently being developed in Jordan, bringing together scientists from across the Middle East.
Sesame’s members are Iran, Pakistan, Israel, Turkey, Cyprus, Egypt, the Palestinian Authority, Jordan and Bahrain. Iran and Pakistan both do not recognise Israel.
Giorgio Paolucci, the scientific director of Sesame, said: “We’re cooperating very well together…That’s the dream”. He added: “I don’t know how many places there are where all these governments have representatives who have the opportunity to come and talk to each other”.
The aim of Sesame is to “foster scientific and technological excellence in the Middle East and neighbouring countries”.
Sesame is a synchrotron – a large device that accelerates electrons around a circular tube, guided by magnets and other equipment, close to the speed of light. This generates radiation which is filtered and flows down beamlines – essentially long pipes in which instruments are placed to collect the radiation and perform the various experiments.
Sesame’s scientists plan to open the synchrotron with three main beamlines, though the project can house up to 20. The first is an X-ray beam which scientists say can be used to analyse soil samples and air particles, identifying contaminants in the environment, as well as, potentially, their sources, in a region suffering from high levels of pollution.