Austria Breaks Up With CERN

The particle physics community is abuzz with the surprising news that Austria plans to pull out of CERN, a move that dampens the rising enthusiasm for the looming restart of CERN's Large Hadron Collider. The Austrian science minister attributed the decision to budget issues—Austrian scientists, however, had thought the latest budget brought good news. On his Web site, Austrian physicist Daniel Grumiller published an open letter about the importance of CERN to Austrian science and called himself "speechless" at the decision. He notes that 173 Austrian scientists are now actively working at CERN. Whether the weakening European economy could make other countries question their financial commitments to CERN will be an important question to follow. Some physics blogs are wondering if non-European states, such as China or the United States, might now be allowed full membership in CERN.