Long the jewel in the crown of European science, CERN will truly become the undisputed world leader in the field of sub-atomic physics when the LHC, the world’s most powerful particle accelerator is switched on. The experiments at the new accelerator will be watched with intense interest by scientists the world over, for information on the fundamental structure of matter, and on the evolution of our early universe
Unfortunately, journalist Derek Scally repeats the concern that the experiments might create a giant black hole that will swallow the earth, a concern that is completely unfounded.
More sensibly, Mr Scally points out that the participation of Irish scientists in the historic LHC experiments will be severely limited by the fact that Ireland, almost uniquely among 20 major European nations, is not a member of CERN. For decades now, Ireland has baulked at joining this most successful of European scientific collaborations. The omission has decimated Irish research in elementary particle physics, a field of fundamental importance in science, and sits awkwardly with our efforts to become a world leader in science and technology. It has also cost us financially, with Irish engineers and scientists unable to bid for large international contracts in high-tech software and hardware projects.
All this from a country whose only Nobel Prize in science was for splitting the atom!