Charles Planner 1938-1998

Charles Planner, who joined the Rutherford Laboratory in 1961, died on 14 August after a two-year fight against cancer.

Charles started his career in accelerators on the 15 MeV Linac Injector for the 7 GeV Proton Synchrotron Nimrod, where he developed his expertise in radiofrequency (rf) system design and beam theory. During his career he contributed to the design of many accelerators, including HERA at DESY, the ESRF at Grenoble, the TRIUMF Kaon Factory design and the European Spallation Source study.

At Rutherford he was responsible for the rf system of the 70 MeV proton linac as a new injector for Nimrod. It is a tribute to its robust design that the repetition rate of this linac could be increased from 1 Hz to 50 Hz, with little change, when it was used as the ISIS injector. On ISIS he was responsible for the injection system, the elegant rf shields in the ring magnets, the optics of the extracted proton beam and the development of extraction kicker magnets. His novel approach to the manufacture of the large but very thin (0.25 micron) foils needed for beam injection into ISIS has been a major success and typifies his work.

For the last few years he was group leader of the ISIS Linac and Radiofrequency Quadrupole linac (RFQ) Group concentrating on increasing the performance of the ISIS linac. His innovative and determined approach has led to developments in RFQ design codes and to the development of a beam-matching system between the ISIS ion source and the RFQ.

American Academy of Arts and Sciences

New members of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences include: William Bardeen of Fermilab; Darleane Hoffmann, Director of the Glenn T Seaborg Institute for Transactinium Science at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory; John Mather at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center; Helen Quinn at SLAC; Pierre Ramond at Florida; and Miguel Virasoro, Director of the Abdus Salam Centre for Theoretical Physics, Trieste.

Bulgarian visit

The Bulgarian Minister of Education and Science Vesselin Metodiev visited CERN on 29 September.

Field theory, Fields Medal

The 1998 award of the prestigious Fields Medal for Mathematics reflects a continuing trend of mathematicians obtaining inspiration from theoretical physics.

The Fields Medal, officially called the "International Medal for Outstanding Discoveries in Mathematics", is awarded every four years at the International Congress of Mathematicians, and is widely considered the highest scientific award for mathematics.

The 1998 award went to Richard Borcherds of Cambridge, Maxim Kontsevich of the French Institut des Hautes Etudes, Timothy Gowers of Cambridge and Curtis McMullen, currently visiting Harvard.

Borcherds' award recognizes in particular his proof of the "Moonshine conjecture" which links "monster groups" ­ which have more elements than there are elementary particles in the universe ­ and elliptical functions. He employed many of the ideas of physics string theory.

Also an expert in string theory is Maxim Kontsevich, who has been motivated by the work of Richard Feynman and Edward Witten. He has proved a conjecture of Witten and shown the mathematical equivalence of different models of quantum gravity.

Witten, of Princeton's Institute for Advanced Study, has long spearheaded the challenge to achieve the ultimate objective of physics ­ a unified theory which encompasses quantum gravity, a quest which has had to invoke both bold new physics ideas and considerable mathematical sophistication. He won the Fields Medal in 1990 for mathematical advances (proving the so-called positive mass conjecture) using ideas of particle supersymmetry.