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17 April 2014 12:48 pm ,
Vol. 344 ,
Officials last week revealed that the U.S. contribution to ITER could cost $3.9 billion by 2034—roughly four times the...
An experimental hepatitis B drug that looked safe in animal trials tragically killed five of 15 patients in 1993. Now,...
Using the two high-quality genomes that exist for Neandertals and Denisovans, researchers find clues to gene activity...
A new report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) concludes that humanity has done little to slow...
Astronomers have discovered an Earth-sized planet in the habitable zone of a red dwarf—a star cooler than the sun—500...
Three years ago, Jennifer Francis of Rutgers University proposed that a warming Arctic was altering the behavior of the...
- 17 April 2014 12:48 pm , Vol. 344 , #6181
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Austria Reverses Course, Stays in CERN
19 May 2009 12:15 pm
Austria will remain a member of CERN. Yesterday, Austrian chancellor Werner Faymann overruled his science minister, Johannes Hahn, and said that Austria would not pull out of the European particle physics center near Geneva at the end of 2010, as Hahn had asserted on 7 May. Faymann said he didn't want to damage Austria's reputation as a reliable partner in international collaborations, but there appear to be other factors involved in the U-turn.
The government of Lower Austria is understood to have kicked up a fuss because CERN scientists are helping it build a particle-beam cancer therapy center called MedAustron. Lower Austria officials were concerned that a severing of ties with CERN would delay the project. The announced withdrawal also prompted a public debate about the value of such fundamental research. Austria's scientific community rallied very rapidly, and an online petition garnered more than 32,000 signatures within days.
The governing coalition's internal politics may have played a role as well, as Faymann is a Social Democrat and Hahn a Conservative. A few weeks ago, some high school reforms proposed by the Social Democrat education minister were quashed after a public outcry, and Hahn's shaming may have an element of scores being settled.
Whatever the internal squabbles, Hahn was widely criticized for failing to consult first with the scientific community, CERN, or the Austrian chancellor. "It was not very well handled," says Christian Fabjan, director of the Institute for High Energy Physics in the Austrian Academy of Sciences. "There were very many arguments against withdrawal, and very few for it."