When complete, a vast nuclear physics complex being built near Darmstadt, Germany, should enable scientists to study why the universe is made of matter and not antimatter, and to test ion beams that might be used to treat cancer. First, however, countries funding the Facility for Antiproton and Ion Research (FAIR) must cough up an extra €1 billion to complete the project, now estimated to cost €2.3 billion.
At a FAIR council meeting this month, officials said the German government is likely to pay its share of the extra money—about €700 million—but other member states could take longer. Some experts also worry the huge cash injection could mean that big science projects in Germany and elsewhere will suffer. “They will have to find the money somewhere,” says Lyn Evans, a particle physicist at the CERN particle physics laboratory near Geneva, Switzerland. “It is going to have an impact.”
FAIR is an ambitious extension of the GSI Helmholtz Centre for Heavy Ion Research being developed by a collaboration of eight European countries plus Russia and India. Originally due to cost €675 million and switch on in 2009, the project has since suffered from a series of price rises and delays. In response, partner countries agreed in 2015 to impose a cost cap, in 2005 prices, of just under €1.3 billion.