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CERN Taking Applications For Membership

June 22, 2010

Europe’s “Big Bang” particle research group CERN, plans to open membership to all countries around the world who qualify to join.

The more than half-century-old organization, located near Geneva on the borders of France and Switzerland, has an annual budget of 8.7 billion dollars and had previously only admitted European states as full members, although many other countries take part in its work.

“This is a giant leap for particle physics that recognizes the increasing globalization of the field,” said Michel Spiro, president of CERN’s ruling council, which made the decision this past weekend.

The change will not necessarily mean more money immediately for CERN, whose budget is fixed for the next five years and then shared among its members, spokesman James Gillies, told Reuters.

However, it will mean a potential source for extra revenue, which critics say could help the organization that swallows huge amounts of money that could be used for more practical ventures.

Both supporters and governments say there are many economic benefits from its work.

CERN was founded in 1954 by 12 European countries with the aim of restoring the continent’s role in physics research after the perils of World War II. Currently the organization has 20 members. It also has an estimated 8,000 scientists from more than 80 countries working with or in CERN’s programs.

India, Israel, Japan, Russia, Turkey and the United States are all CERN observer members. The European Commission and the U.N. educational, scientific and cultural organization UNESCO, are also observer members.

Israel and Turkey are working to become full members by the end of the year. The plan provides for observer members to be gradually replaced by a new category of associate members.

Like observers, these associate members will have no voting rights on the council but will have to take a share of CERN’s budget. However, the announcement said, associate status would be a halfway house to full membership.

Image Caaption: The Globe of Science and Innovation at CERN. Credit: Adam Nieman – Wikipedia

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