Monday 18 December 2017

€1m to sign up with CERN? That's worth a Bob or two

Bob Geldof on stage at the ESOF in
Dublin yesterday.
Bob Geldof on stage at the ESOF in Dublin yesterday.
Mark O'Regan

Mark O'Regan

THE head of the prestigious research laboratory CERN has said Ireland could join for just €1m -- and not the €20m claimed by the Government.

Dr Rolf-Dieter Heuer is in Dublin for the Euroscience Open Forum (ESOF) and confirmed Ireland could become a full member of the research centre for €11.6m per year.

But given our difficult economic circumstances, Ireland could become a part-member for €1m. This would mean that companies could bid for major contracts and Irish scientists could get involved in the project.

The forum also welcomed Bob Geldof as one of the main peakers, who admitted he was out of his depth when it came to matters of science.

Ireland is the only western European country not involved, and the Government had previously indicated it could cost between €20m and €30m to join.

Asked about Ireland's non-membership, Dr Heuer told RTE it was a question for Ireland. He went on to say that he felt Ireland should belong to "our family".

He added that Ireland had strong scientists and should be involved in the CERN work. That work recently saw CERN make its Higgs boson announcement.

Martin Shanahan, head of the Government's science advisory body Forfas, said Ireland could not afford to join the group at this time but it could become involved in the future.

Among the other speakers at ESOF yesterday was Bob Geldof. The 60-year-old took a philosophical view about the meaning of life while questioning the overall "point of science".

"I'm completely out of my depth here. I know absolutely f*** all about science. But people say what's the point of science, and the answer is there doesn't need to be a point," he said.

"Science seeks to prove the biggest questions of all, such as the 'who am I, why am I here' questions. But I don't believe that human experience is driven towards some end goal, I think we simply are."

He was speaking 27 years to the day since Live Aid.

Mr Geldof said there was still grotesque malnutrition in parts of Africa, but that the continent had seven of the top growing world economies.

He also told his audience how a 104-year-old relative was "waiting for death" and was so old and frail that her quality of life hardly made life worth living.

"Scientists have said to me that they eradicate diseases, which they do, but there will be new ones. Some of them said to me, 'but we're living longer'. But who cares?

"My auntie lives down the road and she's in her 104th year. Why? She's lying in bed waiting to die. We don't want to live forever."

Irish Independent

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