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CERN | Geneva | Switzerland

View Blog | Read Bio

SESAME: opening doors through science

Two Pakistani scientists arrived at CERN in the midst of the cold snap in early February. They will spend the coming year working in collaboration with CERN’s magnet experts both learning the technology and contributing to ongoing projects

Sumera Yamin, a physicist, and Khalid Mansoor Hassan, an electrical engineer, both from the National Centre for Physics in Islamabad, came to CERN thanks to an agreement with Pakistan.

“They started contributing right away, helping us build new magnets for the ALPHA experiment,” says Davide Tommasini, Head of the resistive magnet section. “They fitted right in, just like I had expected. It is amazing to see that all scientists share the same approach.”

The two scientists will also contribute to some aspects of the magnet design and technical specifications for the SESAME project, the Synchrotron-light for Experimental Science and Applications in the Middle East, the first major international research centre in the making for the region.

Sumera Yamin (left) and Khalid Mansoor Hassan (right) next to a quadripole magnet in one of CERN test areas.

SESAME was set up on CERN model and likewise, it is being developed under the auspices of UNESCO. Its current members are: Bahrain, Cyprus, Egypt, Iran, Israel, Jordan, Pakistan, Palestinian Authority and Turkey. The goal is to build scientific and cultural bridges between diverse societies, and contribute to a culture of peace through international cooperation in science. It also aims at preventing or even reversing brain drain by enabling world-class scientific research in basic properties of materials science, physics, chemistry, and life sciences.

CERN is supporting this initiative by sharing its expertise in particular for the magnet system. In 2010, CERN and SESAME Directors signed a collaboration protocol. CERN’s experts will also deliver training to SESAME personnel on request.

Pakistan is both a member of SESAME and the CMS collaboration. Its goal is to support CERN in its effort in favor of SESAME, and, by the same token, build expertise in accelerator science, technology and design for domestic use.

SESAME main building was completed in Allan, Jordan in 2008. By 2015, this research center will start welcoming scientists from all member states. As a “user facility”, scientists will come for short visits, perform a specific experiment and return home for the data analysis. The goal is to create a motivating scientific environment that will encourage the region’s best scientists and technologists to stay in the area or to return if they have left.

The two scientists are now hard at work learning how to build magnets from scratch for the SESAME main ring. They are working on the design and the specifications should be finalized by late spring. The goal is to have most components produced and/or assembled in the Middle East. In parallel, Pakistan counts on scientists like Sumera and Khalid to build expertise in accelerator technology and develop its own skills for medical applications.

“We are getting a lot of help and attention from the whole group”, says Khalid. “Every time we need to discuss something, someone proposes we go for coffee!” But discussing everything and nothing over coffee is not the only memory they will have of CERN. “This is a very different learning experience,” adds Sumera, “more cooperative, more open”. Both Sumera and Khalid enjoy the multicultural environment and are happily soaking up all the new knowledge.

Pauline Gagnon

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