Oct 3, 2004
Faces and Places (page 2)
Bjorken and Callan awarded the Dirac medal for 2004
James Bjorken, professor emeritus of physics at Stanford University, and Curtis Callan, professor of physics at Princeton University, have been awarded the 2004 Dirac medal. They are being honoured for their theoretical investigations in the 1960s and 1970s, which led to the use of deep-inelastic scattering for shedding light on the nature of strong interactions.
Bjorken has been recognized as the first to realize the importance of deep-inelastic scattering and the first to understand the scaling of cross-sections, an insight that ultimately bore his name - the Bjorken scaling of cross-sections. Callan, together with Kurt Symanzik (now deceased), reinvented the perturbative renormalization group (in a form that now bears the name Callan-Symanzik equations) and recognized these groups as measures of scale-invariance anomalies. Callan has applied these techniques to analyses of deep-inelastic scattering and has made substantial contributions to particle physics and, more recently, string theory.
The annual award, which includes $5000 for each winner, is sponsored by the Abdus Salam International Centre for Theoretical Physics (ICTP) in Trieste, Italy, and is given to scientists who have made significant contributions to theoretical physics and mathematics. The announcement of the Dirac medal is made on 8 August, the anniversary of the birth of Paul Dirac, who was a close associate of the ICTP.
UK's Institute of Physics honours particle physicists
Theoretical and experimental particle physicists figure among the 2004 winners of Britain's most prestigious prizes for physics, awarded by the Institute of Physics (IOP). The IOP's own Paul Dirac medal and prize goes this year to CERN's John Ellis for "his highly influential work on particle-physics phenomenology; in particular on the properties of gluons, the Higgs boson and the top quark". One of the IOP's premier awards, the Dirac medal and prize is made for outstanding contributions to theoretical (including mathematical and computational) physics.
The Duddell medal and prize, in memory of William du Bois Duddell, the inventor of the electromagnetic oscillograph, is awarded for outstanding contributions to the advancement of knowledge through the application of physics, including the invention or design of scientific instruments or the discovery of materials used in their construction. It is shared this year by Geoff Hall of Imperial College London, Alessandro Marchioro from CERN and Peter Sharp of the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory and CERN. The trio received the Duddell award for their "development of radiation-hard analogue electronics for silicon detectors, enabling their use as a means of precision detection and measurement of charged-particle production at the Large Hadron Collider".
The Maxwell medal and prize, which is given for outstanding contributions to theoretical physics in the past 10 years, is awarded to Clifford Victor Johnson of the University of Durham. He receives the award, which is intended to recognize physicists in the early part of their careers, for "his outstanding contribution to string theory, quantum gravity and its interface with strongly coupled field theory, and in particular for his work on understanding the censorship of singularities, and the thermodynamic properties, of quantum space-time".
Young physicists meet Nobel laureates in Lindau
The 54th annual meeting of Nobel laureates, and the 18th of physics laureates, took place on 27 June - 2 July in Lindau, Germany. The original aim of these reunions was to help German scientists restore contacts with world leaders in their fields of research. What began with mainly German audiences of students and young researchers in physics, chemistry and medicine has, half a century later, grown into a truly international event. This year more than 500 students from 21 countries worldwide came to meet the laureates.
The lectures given were not only on work that won medals. Douglas Osheroff, a one-time member of the board investigating the Columbia shuttle accident, pointed out that apart from organizational weaknesses, insufficient attention to the basic principles of physics was also to blame. Ivar Giaever recalled the pitfalls he experienced when starting a high-technology biophysics enterprise, Robert Richardson dealt with pseudoscience and related gadgetry, while Sir Brian Josephson spoke on fact and fantasy in science. More predictably, Masatoshi Koshiba outlined the development of neutrino astrophysics, Gerardus 't Hooft introduced supertheories and Martinus Veltman wittily scanned the history of particle physics from Röntgen to the Large Hadron Collider.
Laureates and the audience interacted in a round-table discussion on the role of astrophysics in tackling many riddles of the universe. Another discussion on the relative merits of fundamental and applied physics showed such evaluation to be meaningless, as one kind of research often leads to another; however, potential applications can work wonders in attracting funding.
These meetings are most valuable in offering students numerous opportunities for talking to the leading personalities in their chosen professions. The laureates too benefit from lively conversations with the new generation of scientists. During its existence this unique institution has brought hundreds of laureates into contact with many thousands of students. Alfred Nobel may not have foreseen such a positive consequence of his generosity.
Summer student programme extends its welcome to the UAE
Each year CERN plays host to more than a hundred young physicists who attend the summer student programme, coming not only from CERN's 20 member states but also from countries including Israel, Japan, Madagascar and the US. This year, for the first time, they were joined by students from the United Arab Emirates. Five theoretical physics and medical physics students from the United Arab Emirates University (UAEU) spent eight weeks attending lectures and working with experimental teams.
The practical work available at CERN has been on a different scale from that at UAEU. Aminah Al Abdouli and Shaikha Al Kalbani worked with the CMS/Crystal Clear group; Mariam Al Yateem and Alya Ali Binghurair assisted on muon chambers for the ATLAS experiment; and Mariam Al Hassani did programming for the ALICE collaboration.
All five have another year of work towards their degrees, and after that the possibility of further academic work or a move into the practical application of medical physics. Medical physics is a relatively new field in the UAE, and contributing to its development would be an opportunity the students would appreciate. "Physics is difficult to study - but I like a challenge," said Shaikha Al Kalbani. "As well as that, physics is going to be a useful asset to my country. I think it's important and helpful to everyone."
Chafia Hejase de Trad, who will be one of their lecturers in the next academic year, was also at CERN to discuss the opportunities for future collaboration. The university plans to start MSc programmes in both general and medical physics, so the opportunity to collaborate with CERN is both useful and timely.
TRIUMF's correspondent steps down after 29 years
In May 1975 Brian Southworth, then editor of CERN Courier, took on a correspondent from TRIUMF, Canada's national laboratory for particle and nuclear physics. Michael (Mike) Craddock had been with the TRIUMF laboratory since its very beginnings, as he had joined the Physics Department at the University of British Columbia in 1964, just in time to help in drafting the proposal for the laboratory and later in building the 500 MeV 100 µA H- cyclotron. From 1981-1994 he served as head of TRIUMF's Accelerator Research Division, and was responsible for the design of the 30 GeV KAON (Kaon-Antiproton-Otherhadron-Neutrino) factory accelerator chain. His more recent interests have included collimation at the Large Hadron Collider, synchrotron light sources and radioactive ion storage rings. Now retired, he is also stepping down as our correspondent, but his interest in physics is continuing with fixed-field alternating-gradient synchrotrons (FFAGs) for accelerating muons, which he says is "perhaps a suitably far-out project for a retiree!" His last article for the Courier was, appropriately, on FFAGs (CERN Courier July/August 2004 p23).
Replacing Mike is Marcello Pavan, who assumed the duties of TRIUMF's first Outreach Coordinator in April 2003. Prior to that his research was primarily as an experimentalist in the field of pion-nucleon chiral dynamics. Recently, his research activities have shifted towards the nuclear astrophysics programme at TRIUMF's ISAC facility, working with the DRAGON and TUDA groups. While juggling all his responsibilities at TRIUMF for outreach, communications and research, Marcello says he wonders how on earth he will be able to fill Mike Craddock's considerable shoes as TRIUMF's new CERN correspondent, but he promises to try his very best.