Slovenian scientists welcome CERN associate membership

Geneva, 20 December - Slovenian scientists working at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) have welcomed the agreement signed on Friday to make Slovenia an associate member of CERN. They believe Slovenian science as well as business can benefit from the new status.

Senior researcher Andrej Gorišek told the STA Slovenian businesses have so far not benefited much from CERN, but the member status will give Slovenian companies better chances of getting projects with the main particle physics laboratory in the world.

Marko Mikuž, the head of the Slovenian team on the ATLAS detector, meanwhile sees the main benefits in the legalisation of the status that Slovenia has had in CERN for seven years, and in a chance for the entire Slovenian society to get something back from CERN.

Slovenia's associate membership in CERN, which now still needs to be ratified by the Slovenian parliament, may also help make science more popular among young people since it opens the door for visits by secondary school teachers.

Gorišek explained that CERN holds a number of programmes for teachers that are only accessible to member states, so Slovenian physics teachers will now be able to visit CERN in the summer to learn more about particle physics and how to present it to their students.

Already on Friday, when the agreement was signed, Education, Science and Sport Minister Maja Makovec Brenčič addressed the students of one of Ljubljana's top secondary schools via video link from Geneva as the first step in this exchange.

Although only a handful of Slovenian scientists work in CERN, the institution has entrusted Slovenians the coordinator position twice.

After the parliament ratifies the agreement, the country is to become a full-fledged member in five years, which is a standard transitional period for new members.

Nevertheless, Slovenian researchers and companies will immediately have full access to all of CERN's programmes and infrastructure.