European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN), with its multitude of accelerators, has opened up the possibility for scientists to answer some huge questions. I imagine CERN’s To Do list to read something like “1 – understand the intricacies of the Big Bang, 2 – find the Higgs boson, 3 – figure out dark matter, 4 – unify fundamental forces.” However, there is one underlying question that is arguably even more challenging – “How are we going to pay for all this?”
An era of tight budgets and devastating cuts in public funding is sweeping across Europe as governments make harsh decisions to avoid Greek-esk debt problems. These pressures have led CERN’s director general, Rolf-Dieter Heuer, to decide to put the accelerators at CERN on pause, delaying projects planned for 2012 for a year.
The news came as a shock to scientists working at CERN, many of which feel frustrated as they are stopped in their dead in their tracks. A 12 month delay will feel like an eternity.
A question I ask myself is how can somewhere like CERN make the case for continued funding in a time of financial constraints? How can CERN compete, in the eyes of the public, with the need for services like schools and health services?
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