European Physical Society awards particle physicists

The opening morning of the International Europhysics Conference on High Energy Physics, HEP2003, on 21 July, was the occasion for the presentation of the 2003 prizes of the High Energy Physics Board of the European Physical Society (EPS).

The EPS High Energy and Particle Physics Prize was awarded to David Gross, David Politzer and Frank Wilczek "for their fundamental contributions to quantum chromodynamics". By demonstrating that the theory is asymptotically free, they paved the way for showing that the theory is correct. Gross is currently director of the Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics, Santa Barbara; Politzer is with the California Institute of Technology, and Wilczek is at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

The Young Physicist Prize was awarded to Guillaume Unal of Orsay "for his contribution to the analysis of NA48 data, whereby direct CP violation in K decays was established". Unal has been involved in most aspects of the experiment and has been the driving force in the physics analysis.

The Gribov Medal was awarded to Nima Arkani-Hamed of Harvard "for his original approaches to hierarchy problems in the theories of fundamental interactions. In particular, for considering the possibility of large extra dimensions where only gravity can propagate and exploring its broad phenomenological implications."

Arkani-Hamed has authored several influential works exploring possible explanations of the observed hierarchies of physical scales in the theories of fundamental interactions.

The Outreach Prize was awarded to Rolf Landua of CERN and Nicolas Tracas of Athens. While active as spokesman of the ATHENA collaboration, Landua has efficiently collaborated in many outreach activities at CERN, including events with a European dimension such as "Physics on Stage" and "Life in the Universe". Tracas has been very active and successful in promoting the public image of physics in Greece, in particular through programmes for high-school teachers, and through activities such as "Physics on Stage". He has also been active in translating CERN's outreach material into Greek for use by Greek students and teachers.

Berlin's Humboldt University has awarded its 2003 Lise Meitner Prize for outstanding PhD work in physics to Lars Meinhold for his diploma thesis on "Stochastic oscillations in cytolic calcium concentration". The prize is sponsored by the Association of Friends and Sponsors of Physics at the Humboldt University Berlin, where Meinhold studied. He is interested in biophysical applications and has investigated the dynamics of calcium in intercell space and developed cluster models. Meinhold is now at the University of Heidelberg, where he is continuing his research. The Lise Meitner Lecture at the award ceremony was given by Herwig Schopper, former director-general of CERN, on "Fundamental research as a gateway to human understanding".

CAS steams ahead under new head Brandt

A specialized course on Synchrotron Radiation and Free-Electron Lasers, which was held on 2-9 July in Brunnen, Switzerland, was the first under the leadership of Daniel Brandt, the new head of the CERN Accelerator School (CAS). Brandt, who is an accelerator physicist, has been at CERN since 1981, working on aspects of LEP from the early days of design and throughout most of its operation. More recently, his responsibilities have included the LHC Heavy Ions Programme.

Brandt became head of CAS in January, taking over from Ted Wilson, who retired from CERN in March (CERN Courier May 2003 p37). The latest course in Brunnen was run in collaboration with the Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI) and was attended by 58 students, not only from Europe and North America, but also from Brazil, Taiwan and South Africa. A particular highlight was a visit to the Swiss Light Source at the PSI in Villigen, which allowed the students to visualize the theoretical aspects of the course. Brandt is seen here on the footplate of the old Rigi steam engine, during the school's excursion to Mount Rigi.

ALICE presents its first award to industry

On 19 June, the French-Italian company STMicroelectronics received the first ALICE award to industry. STMicroelectronics made available to the ALICE collaboration the design of one of its most advanced circuits, the TSA1001. This has been integrated into the ALTRO (ALICE TPC Read Out) chip designed by the CERN EP-ED group.

As with the other experiments being prepared for CERN's Large Hadron Collider, ALICE has to push data handling and processing technologies well beyond the current state of the art. In particular, ALICE, which aims to study quark-gluon plasma, has to operate efficiently in two widely differing running modes: the proton-proton mode with very frequent but quite small events, with few particles produced, and the heavy-ion mode with relatively low rate, but extremely large events, with tens of thousands of particles produced.

These requirements call for a single chip with circuits to digitize, process, compress and store the information of a large number of channels. ALTRO, the chip produced by STMicroelectronics and the ALICE collaboration for the Time Projection Chamber (TPC), meets this challenge perfectly.

The development of the ALTRO chip is the result of the joint effort of several ALICE teams from CERN, GSI, Heidelberg and Lund. Due to its versatility and excellent performance, the chip is now being considered for two other parts of the ALICE detector, the Forward Multiplicity Detector (FMD) and the Photon Spectrometer (PHOS), as well as for an upgrade of the Time Projection Chamber in the STAR experiment at Brookhaven National Laboratory.

Friends and colleagues recently celebrated the 65th birthday of A P Balachandran during a meeting on Spacetime and Fundamental Interactions: Quantum Aspects, which was held on 26-31 May in Vietri sul Mare, near Napoli in Italy. Balachandran (or "Bal" as he is more usually known) has played a crucial role in the introduction of topological ideas in quantum physics, and in particular in the development of Skyrmions as a model for low-lying baryons. More recently, he has been active in noncommutative geometry and "fuzzy" physics. Bal, seen here on the right of the picture talking at the meeting with Giuseppe Marmo of Napoli, has been on the faculty at Syracuse University since 1964. He has also played a central role in the development of theoretical physics in the Napoli area, with several collaborators from the universities of Napoli and Salerno, including some of his former students from Syracuse.