Pakistan Accepted as Associate Member of CERN Ahead of India

"It would be embarrassing if Pakistan becomes an associate member of CERN before India", said eminent Indian scientist and Homi Bhabha Professor Bikash Sinha in early June, 2014. Well, it has happened this week. Pakistan is now an associate member of CERN, the world's largest and most prestigious center for science research.

Large Hadron Collider at CERN
Pakistan is the first Asian country and only the third in the world after Turkey and Serbia to be honored with CERN's associate membership. The status of associate member is a step before full membership. As an associate member, Pakistan  is entitled to attend open and restricted sessions of the organization.

The CERN was founded in 1953 by 12 European nations including Belgium, Denmark, France, the Federal Republic of Germany, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and Yugoslavia. The organization was subsequently joined by Austria (1959), Spain (1961-1969, re-joined 1983), Portugal (1985), Finland (1991), Poland (1991), Czechoslovak Republic (1992), Hungary (1992), Bulgaria (1999) and Israel (2014). The Czech Republic and Slovak Republic re-joined CERN after their mutual independence in 1993. CERN now has 21 member states and Romania is a candidate to become a member state. Serbia is an associate member in the pre-stage to membership. "Observer" status allows non-member states to attend council meetings and to receive council documents, without taking part in the decision-making procedures of the organization. Over 600 institutes and universities around the world use CERN's facilities.

Pakistan's National Center for Physics (NCP) has been collaborating with CERN since 2000.  Pakistan's associate membership application was unanimously approved at a meeting of the CERN council on September 17 this year. The final approval came this week after a report of a CERN “fact-finding mission” to Pakistan in February 2014 was accepted.

CERN is leading the most high-profile effort to find "God Particle" about 300 ft below ground in a tunnel at the French-Swiss border. Buried there is a massive particle accelerator and super collider called LHC (Large Hadron Collider) run by CERN (European Organization of Nuclear Research), which has two beams of particles racing at nearly the speed of light in opposite directions and the resulting particles produced from collisions are being detected by massive detectors in the hope of experimentally finding the fundamental particle of which everything in the universe is built from: God Particle.

Dr. Hafeez Hoorani and President Musharraf

Among the world scientists working at CERN on LHC project is Professor Hafeez Hoorani of Pakistan's Quaid-e-Azam University in Islamabad. He is one of 27 Pakistani scientists at CERN. Hoorani has acknowledged that Pakistan government's support for Pakistani scientists' serious involvement at CERN materialized only after 1999, the year former President Musharraf's government assumed power. He also gives credit to Dr. Abdus Salam, Pakistan's only Nobel Laureate, for inspiring him and his colleagues to pursue serious scientific research. Here's what Professor Hoorani says about Pakistan's involvement in LHC and CERN:

When I first came to CERN, I was mainly working on technical things but became increasingly involved in political issues. In 1999, I went back to Pakistan to set up a group working on different aspects of the LHC project. There I had to convince my people and my government to collaborate with CERN, which was rather difficult, since nobody associated science with Switzerland. It is known as a place for tourism, for its watches, and nice places to visit.

However, Pakistan already had an early connection to CERN through the late Abdus Salam, the sole Nobel laureate from Pakistan in science and one of the fathers of the electroweak theory. CERN has been known to the scientific community of Pakistan since 1973 through the discovery of neutral currents which eventually led to the Nobel Prize for Salam. We are contributing much more now because of the students who worked with Salam, who know his theories and CERN, and who are now placed at highly influential positions within the government of Pakistan. They have helped and pushed Pakistan towards a very meaningful scientific collaboration with CERN. People now know that there is an organization called CERN. It took a long time to explain what CERN is about, and I brought many people here to show them, because they did not imagine CERN this way. Many people support us now which gives us hope…”

In addition to the 27 scientists, Pakistan has made material contributions to the tune of $10m. Pakistan signed an agreement with CERN which doubled the Pakistani contribution from one to two million Swiss francs. And with this new agreement Pakistan started construction of the resistive plate chambers required for the CMS muon system. While more recently, a protocol has been signed enhancing Pakistan’s total contribution to the LHC program to $10 million.

Pakistan has contributed the LHC in numerous ways including some of the following in particular:

1. Detector construction
2. Detector simulation
3. Physics analysis
4. Grid computing
5. Computational software development
6. Manufacturing of mechanical equipment
7. Alignment of the CMS (Compact Muon Solenoid) tracker using lasers
8. Testing of electronic equipment
9. Barrel Yoke: 35 Ton each feet made in Pakistan
10. Assembly of CF (Carbon Fiber) Fins for the Silicon Tracker’s TOB (Tracker Outer Barrel).
11. 245 of the 300 CMS chambers required were made in Islamabad.

Pakistan has had an impressive 50 per cent increase in the number of research publications during just the last two years, going up from 3,939 to 6,200. This has been the second highest increase worldwide, according to SCimago, the world's leading research database. The latest QS world rankings include 10 Pakistani universities among Asia's top 300.

Rise of research and publications at Pakistani universities began during Musharraf years when the annual budget for higher education increased from only Rs 500 million in 2000 to Rs 28 billion in 2008, to lay the foundations of the development of a strong knowledge economy, according to former education minister Dr. Ata ur Rehman. Student enrollment in universities increased from 270,000 to 900,000 and the number of universities and degree awarding institutions increased from 57 in 2000 to 137 by 2008. Government R&D spending jumped seven-fold as percentage of GDP from 0.1% of GDP in 1999 to 0.7% of GDP in 2007.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Pakistani Scientists at CERN

10 Pakistani Universities Among Asia's Top 300

Genomics and Biotech Research in Pakistan

Human Capital Growth in Pakistan

Educational Attainment in Pakistan

Pakistan Human Development in Musharraf Years

Robotics Growth in Pakistan 


Riaz Haq said…
The world's top particle physics lab has admitted Pakistan as an associate member, a year after Israel was voted in as a full member.

Rolf Heuer, director general of the European Organization for Nuclear Research, known as CERN, says he signed a document Friday in Islamabad in the presence of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif that admits Pakistan if the government ratifies the associate membership.

Heuer said in a statement Friday that Pakistan has been "a strong participant" in CERN research since the 1990s ? and its inclusion in the lab's community serves other important purposes as well.

"Bringing nations together in a peaceful quest for knowledge and education is one of the most important missions of CERN," he said.

The status upgrade means nuclear-armed Pakistan will have more access and say in the research, and that it will be able to bid for contracts, but also that it must contribute more financially each year to the facility.

Pakistan and CERN signed a cooperation agreement in 1994 through which the nation has contributed to the lab's major experiments and become involved in developing CERN's particle accelerator.

Pakistan became a nuclear power in 1988. It routinely test-fires what it claims are indigenously developed missiles.

Last December, the governing council of CERN unanimously voted to accept Israel as the 21st full member, making it the first non-European country to achieve that status. Israel had gained observer status in 1991 and then became an associate member in 2011.
Riaz Haq said…
It's the birthday of Abdus Salam, who was born in 1926 in Jhang, a rural community in what is now Pakistan. Salam attended Punjab University and then Cambridge University, where he earned a PhD in 1952. In the 1960s, he and, independently, Sheldon Glashow and Steven Weinberg identified a symmetry that is shared in a class of field theories by the electromagnetic and weak nuclear forces. The symmetry implied that the two forces are really different manifestations of the same force, which Salam named electroweak. Glashow, Salam and Weinberg's unification also predicted the existence of two bosons: W, which mediates beta decay, and Z, which mediates the transfer of momentum, spin and energy in neutrino scattering. In 1973 a clear manifestation of the Z was discovered in CERN's Gargamelle bubble chamber. Six years later Glashow, Salam and Weinberg were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics. Salam was also a founder of the International Center for Theoretical Physics in Trieste, Italy, which has supported the studies of physicists from the developing world since its founding in 1964.
Riaz Haq said…
Inside the life of #Pakistan’s first female string theorist. #Physics #Science #MIT

Tasneem Zehra Husain, Pakistan’s first female string theorist at the mere age of 26, recently published her new book Only the Longest Threads, which fictionalises major breakthroughs in physics through the minds of the people who lived in those periods of discovery, reports the MIT Technology Review Pakistan.

Husain is an eminent scientist, writer and educator who obtained her bachelor of science in mathematics and physics from Kinnaird College and a masters degree in physics from the Quaid-i-Azam University.

She was awarded a scholarship by the Abdus Salam International Centre for Theoretical Physics (ICTP) to study in the field of High-Energy Physics in Trieste, Italy. Husain obtained her PhD in theoretical physics from Stockholm University, and then went on to do her post-doctoral research at Harvard University. While still a post-doc, she helped found the Lahore University of Managment Sciences (LUMS) School of Science and Engineering in Lahore, where she later taught as a faculty member.

Husain has represented Pakistan at the meeting of nobel laureates in Lindau, Germany. She has written extensively for several magazines and newspapers, including the award winning blog.

Tasneem Zehra Husain sat down with MIT Technology Review Pakistan to talk about her life, research and her aspirations for the field of theoretical Physics in the country, here is what she had to say.

A childhood surrounded by love, laughter and books
My parents were very supportive and involved in their children’s upbringing. My father is very hands-on so he would get involved in projects with us. My mother read to us since before we could even speak.

Growing up in the 80’s in Pakistan, there weren’t a lot of bookstores. There were maybe three or four like Anees book store or Iqbal book corner. They didn’t have a range of interesting things to read; only textbooks or classics were available. However, my parent’s had an extensive personal library of books at home and later my mother started the Alif Laila lending library when my brother and I were only one or two years old, so we grew up with books all around us.

Our parents would have to frequently bring home books to catalogue, so we saw them all the time and everywhere. We were encouraged to read voraciously and I think that was the main turning point for all of us.
Riaz Haq said…
New #IAEA Collaborating Centre in #Pakistan for #Nuclear #Technology. Partnership with PIAES in 3 key areas: Modelling and simulations with verification and validation capabilities, experimental nuclear #engineering, and education and training.

With a cooperation agreement signed today, the IAEA has designated the Pakistan Institute of Engineering and Applied Sciences (PIEAS) as an IAEA Collaborating Centre to support Member States on research, development and capacity building in the application of advanced and innovative nuclear technologies.

Islamabad-based PIAES is one of Pakistan’s leading public research university in engineering and nuclear technology and a major nuclear research facility of the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission.

“I cannot emphasize enough the importance of education and training for building the capacity of Member States in this field,” said IAEA Deputy Director General Mikhail Chudakov, Head of the Department of Nuclear Energy, at the signing ceremony at the Agency’s Vienna headquarters. “Through this network, the Agency encourages scientific studies and cooperation across Member States, making the centres a key IAEA cooperation mechanism.”

This partnership with PIAES is based on a holistic and multidisciplinary approach in three key areas: modelling and simulations with verification and validation capabilities, experimental nuclear engineering, and education and training. Member States will strengthen their capacities in reactor technology design, nuclear-renewable hybrid energy systems, and reactor numerical modelling and simulations.

“We are first and foremost a university, so academics and research and development is at the heart of what we do,” underlined Nasirmajid Mirza, Rector of PIAES. “It will be rewarding to further build and develop capacity in nuclear technology and non-electric applications of nuclear energy and teach it to those who want to learn.”

IAEA Collaborating Centres
Through the Collaborating Centres network, Member States can assist the IAEA by undertaking original research and development and training relating to nuclear science, technologies and their safe and secure applications. With the newly designated Collaborating Centre PIAES in Pakistan, there are now 43 active Collaborating Centres worldwide, with ongoing discussions in several countries to establish new Centres.
Riaz Haq said…
A team led by Pakistani scientist has developed a promising solar cell technology that sets two new world records of efficiency in the lab. The approach could help foster clean energy initiatives to combat the global warming issue.

Yasir Siddique – a PhD scholar at the Korea Institute of Energy Research (KIER) and the University of Science and Technology (UST), Daejeon, South Korea – has designed and fabricated solution-processed Copper Indium Sulphu Selenide (CISSe) solar cells.

The stable solution-processed, low bandgap CISSe device perfectly works as a single cell, but could also be sandwiched with other thin-film solar cell materials having suitable bandgap as top cell-like recently emerging solar cell technology of Perovskite in tandem solar cell configuration.

The bandgap is the amount of energy needed to free the electron from any semiconductor; the lower the bandgap the more it produces electricity.

Our sun is an average 150 million kilometres away but a primary source of light and heat for our planet. Theoretically, the sun throws 1,360 watts per square metre of mixed energy on a surface directly facing it.

However, the sunlight on any solar cell largely reflected or passed through the structure and a few per cent of energy converts directly from sunlight into electricity. So, the power conversion rate, roughly called the efficiency is the degree to which a solar cell converts energy from sunrays.

There are many types of solar cells with varied efficiencies. The first, second and third generation of solar cells is another way to describe them. Different types of solar cell have different efficiencies for instance traditional silicon cell has efficiency from 15 to 20 per cent while concentrated solar cells could be 41 per cent efficient but need focused beams at one place.

However, Siddique’s cell falls in the emerging trend of Tandem solar technology and is now most efficient in its category.
Riaz Haq said…
Migration of academics: Economic development does not necessarily lead to brain drain

A team of researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research (MPIDR) in Rostock, Germany, developed a database on international migration of academics in order to assess emigration patterns and trends for this key group of innovators. Their paper was published in PNAS on Jan. 18.

As a first step, the team produced a database that contains the number of academics who publish papers regularly, and migration flows and migration rates for all countries that include academics who published papers listed on the bibliographic database Scopus. The migration database was obtained by leveraging metadata of more than 36 million journal articles and reviews published from 1996 to 2021.

"This migration database is a major resource to advance our understanding of the migration of academics," says MPIDR Researcher Ebru Sanliturk. Data Scientist Maciej Danko adds: "While the underlying data are proprietary, our approach generates anonymized aggregate-level datasets that can be shared for noncommercial purposes and that we are making publicly available for scientific research."

MPIDR Researcher Aliakbar Akbaritabar explains how they processed the bibliographic data in order to receive information about the migration patterns of academics: "We used the metadata of the article title, name of the authors and affiliations of almost every article and review published in Scopus since 1996. We followed every single one of the roughly 17 million researchers listed in the bibliographic database through the years and noticed changes in affiliation and, by using that tactic we know how many academics left a given country every year."

The researchers' empirical analysis focused on the relationship between emigration and economic development, indicating that academic setting patterns may differ widely from population-level ones.

Previous literature has shown that, as low-income countries become richer, overall emigration rates initially rise. At a certain point the increase slows down and the trend reverses, with emigration rates declining.

This means that favoring economic development has the counterintuitive effect of initially increasing migration from low- and middle-income countries, rather than decreasing it.

Is this pattern also generally valid for migration of scientists?

Not really.

The researchers found that, when considering academics, the pattern is the opposite: in low- and middle-income countries, emigration rates decrease as the gross domestic product (GDP) per capita increases. Then, starting from around 25,000 US Dollars in GDP, the trend reverses and emigration propensity increases as countries get richer.

MPIDR Director Emilio Zagheni adds, "Academics are a crucial group of innovators whose work has relevant economic effects. We showed that their propensity to emigrate does not immediately increase with economic development—indeed it decreases until a high-income turning point and then increases. This implies that increasing economic development does not necessarily lead to an academic brain drain in low- and middle-income countries."

Unveiling these and related patterns, and addressing big scientific questions with societal implications, was possible only because of painstaking work in preparing this new global database of migration of academics. "We are putting the final touches on an even more comprehensive database, the Scholarly Migration Database, which will be released on its own website soon," says software developer Tom Theile.
Riaz Haq said…
Top European Research Labs Select Three teams of Secondary school students-- One Each Netherlands, Pakistan and the US--For Own Accelerator Beam Experiments at CERN and DESY

Geneva and Hamburg, 28 June 2023. In 2023, for the second time in the history of the Beamline for Schools competition, the evaluation committee selected three winning teams. The team “Myriad Magnets” from the Philips Exeter Academy, in Exeter, United States, and the team “Particular Perspective”, which brings together pupils from the Islamabad College for Boys, the Supernova School in Islamabad, the Cadet College in Hasanabdal, the Siddeeq Public School in Rawalpindi and the Cedar College in Karachi, Pakistan, will travel to CERN, Geneva, in September 2023 to perform the experiments that they proposed. The team “Wire Wizards” from the Augustinianum school in Eindhoven, Netherlands, will be hosted at DESY (Deutsches Elektronen-Synchrotron in Hamburg, Germany) to carry out its experiment.

Beamline for Schools (BL4S) is a physics competition open to secondary school pupils from all around the world. The participants are invited to prepare a proposal for a physics experiment that can be undertaken at the beamline of a particle accelerator. A beamline is a facility that provides high-energy fluxes of subatomic particles that can be used to conduct experiments in different fields, including fundamental physics, material science and medicine.

“Congratulations to this year’s winners – may they have good beams, collect interesting data and generally have the time of their lives,” says Christoph Rembser, a CERN physicist at the ATLAS experiment and one of the founders of Beamline for Schools. “Every year I am astonished by how many young people submit very creative, interesting proposals. In 2014, we weren’t sure at all whether this competition would work. Ten years and 16 000 participants later, I am proud to say that it is obviously a resounding success.”

The fruitful collaboration between CERN and DESY started in 2019 during the shutdown period of the CERN accelerators. This year, the German laboratory will host its fifth team of winners.


The Pakistan team “Particular Perspective” will measure in detail the beam composition of the T10 beamline of the CERN Proton Synchrotron accelerator. The experiment set-up they designed will make it possible to differentiate between different particle species and measure their intensity.

“I am grateful to BL4S for having provided me with an opportunity to represent my country, Pakistan, and its budding community of aspiring physicists. This is a chance for us to experience physics at the highest level and will inspire people with interests similar to ours to reach greater heights,” says Muhammad Salman Tarar from the “Particular Perspective” team.


The “Wire Wizards” team’s experiment focuses on detector development. The Dutch students designed and built a multi-wire proportional chamber (MWPC), a gas detector able to measure the position of a particle interacting with it, and they plan to characterise it using the electron beam available at DESY.

“The BL4S competition provides us with a unique educational experience that will be a highlight in our time as students,” says Leon Verreijt from the “Wire Wizards” team.

The winners have been selected by a committee of CERN and DESY scientists from a shortlist of 27 particularly promising experiments. All the teams in the shortlist will be awarded special prizes. In addition, one team will be recognised for the most creative video and 10 teams for the quality of physics outreach activities they are organising in their local communities, taking advantage of the knowledge gained by taking part in BL4S.

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