BERLIN--Physicists and atmospheric researchers in Germany got good news today. The government announced that it will support the construction of four large facilities, amounting to $1.75 billion, in the coming decade. But it said its decision on a $4 billion accelerator must wait for more discussion from the scientific community.
Receiving a green light were a $27 million lab outside Dresden that will use extremely high magnetic fields to study condensed matter and materials science; and a $105 million airplane that will investigate the high atmosphere and climate change. Two larger projects will go forward if they find partners to support part of the cost: Germany would foot three quarters of the bill for a $734 million heavy ion and antiproton accelerator at the Heavy Ion Research Center in Darmstadt, and half of the $730 million tab for a X-ray Free Electron Laser at the DESY synchrotron in Hamburg.
Government officials, however, said they could not yet commit to the proposed TESLA linear accelerator. The project would be international, but as its host Germany would bear a substantial fraction of the cost. The government encouraged scientists at DESY to continue developing their plans for the project, but declined to promise to host the facility until international support has solidified.
The reluctance isn't surprising given tight budgets, says Wedig von Heyden, general secretary of the German Science Council, which has endorsed TESLA (Science, 22 November 2002, p. 1534). And nuclear physicist Konrad Gelbke of Michigan State University in East Lansing, who helped the science council evaluate this round of proposed projects, says, "the judgments that were made were sound."