Vladimir Kadyshevsky, director of the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research, Dubna, near Moscow, has been elected a full member of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

Christoph W Leemann, former associate director of the Jefferson Laboratory, Newport News, Virginia, has been elevated to the newly created position of deputy director. He was the original head of the laboratory's Accelerator Division, having come from Berkeley with the initial nucleus of key people to build Jefferson's CEBAF electron machine.

The Division of Particles and Fields of the American Physical Society has presented a Certification of Appreciation to Jean Trân Thanh Vân of Paris XI, Orsay, in recognition of his many contributions to particle physics and international understanding by initiating regular meetings. These include the annual Rencontres de Moriond, established in 1966, the Rencontres de Blois (1989) and the Rencontres du Vietnam (1993). The certificate was presented in Paris on 8 July.

Ghulam Murtaza becomes the first Salam professor of physics at Government College, Lahore, Pakistan. The chair was established to honour Abdus Salam, 1979 Nobel prizewinner and co-architect of the electroweak theory, who was a student and, briefly, a teacher at the college. Murtaza was a student of Salam at London's Imperial College.

CERN physicist Edwige Tournefier, who works on the CMS experiment for the LHC, received an "Award for brilliant activity in high energy physics detection techniques" at the Eighth Pisa Meeting on Advanced Detectors held in Elba in May. The award was made for her presentation on CMS's pre-shower detector, designed to identify and reject neutral pions, which fake photon signals in the experiment's lead tungstate calorimeter.

Sven Reiche of Hamburg receives this year's prize from the Friends and Promoters of DESY for the best doctorate work. The title of his thesis is "Numerical studies for a single pass high gain free electron laser".

The 2nd Topical Seminar on Global and Local Network for Research and Education will take place at the Certosa of Pontignano near Siena, Italy, on 6-9 November. The seminar is organized by F-L Navarria of Bologna and PG Pelfer of Firenze, and it is sponsored by INFN, Universita di Bologna, Universita di Firenze and Universita di Siena. It is the second in a series devoted to information networks in research and education. The previous one was held in 1994 on The World Wide Web and beyond in Physics Research and Applications.

The seminar will address present and future developments and applications of information and communication technologies for research and education in physics and other natural sciences. Special sessions will be dedicated to new information technologies for human and historical sciences.

For further information, e-mail "pelfer@fi.infn.it/kaos@bo.infn.it" or visit "http://www.bo.infn.it/sminiato/sminiato00.html".

An International Symposium on Nuclear Physics will be held on 18-22 December at the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, Bombay, India. For further information see "http://www.barc.ernet.in/barc/isnp2000" or e-mail "kailas@magnum.barc.ernet.in".

A Gordon Research Conference on Nuclear Physics - QCD in Extreme Conditions: High Temperature, High Density and Small-x will take place on 22-27 July 2001 at Newport, Rhode Island. Contact Wit Busza, Bldg 24-510, Massachusetts Instiute of Technology, Laboratory for Nuclear Science, 77 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge, MA 02139-4307; e-mail "busza@mit.edu".

The 84th Exhibition of the French Physical Society, held on 19-21 September at the Paris Expo, Porte de Versailles, highlights cutting-edge instrumentation technology. Related events running in parallel are devoted to measurement, sensors, optophotonics, etc. See "http://sfp.in2p3.fr/expo" and "http://www.physiquerechercheindustrie.com".

Bohr's tall story

A physics student at the University of Copenhagen was once faced with the following challenge:

"Describe how to determine the height of a skyscraper using a barometer."

The student replied: "Tie a long piece of string to the barometer, lower it from the roof of the skyscraper to the ground. The length of the string plus the length of the barometer will equal the height of the building."

This answer so incensed the examiner that the student was failed immediately. However, the student appealed on the grounds that the answer was indisputably correct, and the university appointed an independent arbiter to decide.

The arbiter judged that the answer was indeed correct, but that it did not display any noticeable knowledge of physics. To resolve the problem, it was decided to call the student and allow six minutes for him to provide an oral answer.

For five minutes the student sat in silence, his forehead creased in thought. When the arbiter pointed out that time was running out, the student replied that he had several extremely relevant answers but could not decide which to use.

"Firstly, you could take a barometer up to the roof of the skyscraper, drop it over the edge and measure the time it takes to reach the ground, but too bad for the barometer.

"If the sun is shining you could measure the height of the barometer, then set it on end and measure the length of its shadow. Then you measure the length of the skyscraper's shadow, and thereafter it is a simple matter of proportional arithmetic.

"If you wanted to be highly scientific, you could tie a short piece of string to the barometer and swing it as a pendulum, first at ground level, then on the roof of the skyscraper. The height of the building can be calculated from the difference in the pendulum's period.

"If the skyscraper has an outside emergency staircase, it would be easy to walk up it and mark off the height in barometer lengths.

"If you wanted to be boring and orthodox, of course, you could use the barometer to measure the air pressure on the roof of the skyscraper and on the ground, and convert the difference into a height of air.

"But since we are continually being urged to seek new ways of doing things, probably the best way would be to knock on the janitor's door and say: 'If you would like a nice new barometer, I will give you this one if you tell me the height of this building'."

The student was allegedly Niels Bohr.

This story ties in well with an anecdote recounted in Abraham Pais' book Niels Bohr's Times, in Physics, Philosophy and Polity (Oxford, 1991). In his youth, Bohr played goalkeeper in soccer. On one occasion his team was playing against a German side, and most of the action was taking place in the German half of the field. Suddenly the German team counterattacked, and a spectator had to shout to warn Bohr, who was using the goalpost to write down a mathematical problem.

Dubna plays host to scientific academies

The 10th meeting of the Board of the International Association of Academies of Sciences (IAAS) took place at the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research (JINR), Dubna, near Moscow, in June. The IAAS was established in 1993 to unite efforts of the National Academies of Sciences for solving major scientific problems and for keeping and developing traditional and new collaborative ties between scientists.

At present the IAAS includes the Academies of Sciences of all of the CIS countries - Azerbaijan, Armenia, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Moldova, Russia, Turkmenistan, Ukraine and Uzbekistan, as well as Vietnam. The JINR is an associate member of the IAAS as well as the Russian Humanitarian Scientific Foundation, the Russian Foundation for Basic Research, the Moscow Physics and Technology Institute and the Belarusian Republican Foundation for Basic Research. The IAAS president is B E Paton, Academician of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine. The JINR was also recently the scene of an ATLAS Week - a major meeting of the collaboration building the ATLAS detector for CERN's LHC collider.

First presentation of the Wiik prize

On 15 June Dr Margret Becker-Wiik presented for the first time the Bjørn H Wiik prize, established in honour of the DESY director-general, who died tragically in 1999. The winners are the Russian scientists Evgeny Saldin, Evgeny Schneidmiller and Mikhail Yurkov. The three physicists were awarded the prize for their outstanding contributions to the Free Electron Laser (FEL) project at DESY. Yurkov was one of the speakers at the recent DESY 40th anniversary celebrations (July p6).

In 1994 - shortly after the start of the project - Saldin, Yurkov and Schneidmiller joined the FEL team at DESY's TESLA test facility. Earlier this year the FEL emitted its first laser light (July p26).

In future the Bjørn H Wiik prize will be presented every two years. Financed by donations, it aims to acknowledge outstanding contributions to the advancement of research programmes or technical development projects at DESY.

Pomeranchuk prize

The Pomeranchuk prize for 2000 is awarded to E L Feinberg (Lebedev Institute, Moscow) and J D Bjorken (SLAC).

Evgenii L'vovich Feinberg receives the award for his outstanding contributions to theoretical physics and especially to the theory of inelastic collisions of hadrons. A staff member at the Lebedev Institute and a member of the Russian Academy of Science, he was originally a postgraduate student of Igor Tamm. During his long career his interest has varied from problems of radiophysics and statistical acoustics, and of low-energy neutron physics and neutron spectroscopy, to particle physics and nuclear interactions at high energies. He is the author of more than 100 scientific publications, including "About the external diffractive production of particles in nuclear collisions" (with I Ya Pomeranchuk, 1953); "Propagation of radiowaves along the terrestrial surface" (1961); "Direct production of photons and dileptons in multiple hadron production" (1976); and "Hadron clusters and half-dressed particles in quantum field theory" (1980).

J D Bjorken receives the award for his outstanding contributions to particle physics and quantum field theory, in particular for formulating the scaling law in deep inelastic processes. His most important theoretical research achievements include the development, simultaneously and independent of Johnson and Low, of limiting the behaviour of interaction amplitudes in quantum field theory - the so-called BJL asymptotic limit - and the formulation of the rigorous Bjorken Sum Rules for the difference between spin-dependent scattering amplitudes of polarized electrons from polarized protons and neutrons.

In collaboration with Sheldon Glashow, Bjorken extended the underlying symmetry structure of elementary particles from SU(3) to SU(4) and introduced the "charm" quantum number. Together with Sidney Drell he wrote the famous textbooks Relativistic Quantum Mechanics and Field Theory, which have served for many years as standard references for graduate education.

Established in 1998, the Pomeranchuk prize is awarded annually for outstanding achievements in all of the fields of theoretical physics to which Isaak Yakovlevich Pomeranchuk (1913-1966) contributed. Administered by Moscow's Institute of Theoretical and Experimental Physics (ITEP), the prize was awarded in 1998 to A I Akhiezer (Kharkov, Ukraine) and Sidney Drell (Stanford, USA), and in 1999 to K A Ter-Martirosyan (ITEP, Moscow) and Gabriele Veneziano (CERN).

Nominations for the Pomeranchuk prize 2001 should be sent to "pomeron@heron.itep.ru" no later than 1 February 2001. Further information is available via "http://face.itep.ru/pomeranchuk.html".

CERN Council news

At the meeting of CERN's governing body, Council, on 23 June, Kurt Hübner was reappointed CERN's director of accelerators from 1 January to 30 June 2001, and Carlo Wyss was appointed as director of accelerators from 1 July 2001 to 31 December 2003. Georgio Goggi was reappointed leader of CERN's EP Division from 1 January to 30 June 2001 and Wolf-Dieter Schlatter was appointed as leader of the division from 1 July 2001 to 30 June 2004. Walter Majerotto was re-elected as vice-president of Council for one year from 1 July 2000. Wilfried Buchmüller of DESY and Paolo Strolin of Naples were elected as new members of the Scientific Policy Committee.

Lazarus Gershon Ratner 1923-2000

Lazarus (Larry) Gershon Ratner, an outstanding and dedicated accelerator physicist who played a major role in developing the acceleration of polarized beams, died on 9 March of pneumonia.

Ratner graduated from Berkeley in 1951. Joining Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory as a staff physicist in 1950, he initially worked on the 184 inch cyclotron and was involved in the design and construction effort of the Bevatron. He then moved to Argonne in 1960 and became a key member of the team that designed, constructed and commissioned the Zero Gradient Synchrotron (ZGS). After the completion of the ZGS, he was principally responsible for the slow extraction of the proton beam and the tuning of secondary beams.

During this period Ratner joined a Michigan team in pioneer experiments at the ZGS. He also made major contributions to the Argonne-Bologna-Michigan collaboration, which carried out an early proton-proton collider experiment when the CERN Intersecting Storage Rings first operated in 1971.

Next Ratner rejoined his Michigan colleagues as a major collaborator in the pioneering large-angle proton-proton elastic experiments that found large and unexpected spin effects, first using the Argonne ZGS polarized proton beam in 1975-9 and then using Brookhaven's AGS in 1984-90. However, Ratner's major role in the world's first successful effort to accelerate polarized protons to high energy at the ZGS will remain one of his lasting legacies. He was a pioneer in the use of correction dipoles and pulsed quadrupoles to overcome the many depolarizing resonances encountered during acceleration to high energy. The successful acceleration of polarized protons at the ZGS made it possible to conceive of polarized beam acceleration at even higher energies. This is now a very active field of accelerator physics.

After the 1979 shutdown of the ZGS, Ratner joined Brookhaven in 1981 to apply his unique talents and expertise to the construction and commissioning of the polarized proton beam project at Brookhaven's Alternating Gradient Synchrotron (AGS). The AGS's strong focusing fields made the task of overcoming its many depolarizing resonances truly formidable. However, Ratner persevered and in 1988 a polarized beam was successfully accelerated to 22 GeV. Again he played a key role in all aspects of the project - from magnet and power supply design to the design, testing and operation of three polarimeters.

The experience at the AGS, although successful, also demonstrated that new techniques were needed to accelerate polarized protons to even higher energy. In 1975 Derbenev and Kondratenko at Novosibirsk had proposed that inserting local spin rotators called Siberian snakes should eliminate all depolarizing resonances, but the concept had never been tested. Ratner enthusiastically joined the pioneering Michigan-Indiana-Brookhaven-KEK experiment at the Indiana University Cooler Ring, which provided the "proof-of-principle" in 1989.

Then, as co-spokesperson of an experiment at the AGS, he led the effort to design, install and successfully test a solenoid partial Siberian snake. Based on these successful tests, full Siberian snakes are now being built and installed in Brookhaven's Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC), which will allow the study of spin effects in 500 GeV proton-proton collisions. Until last year, Ratner remained actively involved with his long-term Michigan colleagues and with the RHIC spin project. His dedication and thoughtfulness continued to serve as an inspiration to all of us. With Larry's passing, his colleagues lost a wise and creative physicist and a good friend.
A D Krisch, Brookhaven, and T Roser, Michigan.