Increasing membership of the CERN family featured strongly at the CERN council meetings this week, with Serbia’s ratification documents being received along with an application for Associate Membership from Ukraine. We also learned that an official application is on its way from Brazil and I can report that discussions are ongoing with several other countries around the world.
Serbia joins Israel as an Associate Member in the pre-stage to Membership, and since Yugoslavia was a founder member of CERN in 1954, it was good to welcome Belgrade back. Looking forward, the council has agreed to set up fast fact finding missions to other applicant countries, so I think it’s fair to say that 2012 will be a year of growth for CERN, fulfilling our mission of science bringing nations together.
In a similar vein, it was a pleasure for me to be able to report to the council an important development at SESAME, the light source for the Middle East established in Jordan on the CERN model. In a press release we received on 13 March, SESAME announced that Iran, Israel, Jordan and Turkey have each pledged $5M to the project: an important step towards SESAME becoming an operational laboratory.
The other major news of the week is, of course, the LHC restart, with the first beams of 2012 circulating just before midnight on Wednesday. We are now set to post a new world record beam energy of 4 TeV over the coming days. Collisions at that energy will begin around the end of the month, setting the LHC experiments on the home straight in the search for a Standard Model Higgs particle, news of which the world is eagerly awaiting.
Finally, I’m honoured to report that the council decided to extend my term of office as Director-General by two years, to the end of 2015. I look forward to serving the CERN community for this period, and to overseeing the LHC’s next record energy after the machine’s first long shutdown.