Artem Alikhanian: the father of Armenian physics

Artem Alikhanian was born 100 years ago on 24 June 1908. With Piotr Kapitsa, Lev Landau, Igor Kurchatov, Abraham Alikhanov (Artem’s elder brother) and others, he laid the foundations of nuclear physics in the USSR. His role as a founder of a large-scale physics research centre in Armenia – the Yerevan Physics Institute – is especially notable.

Alikhanian’s research focused mainly on nuclear physics, cosmic rays and elementary particle physics, accelerator physics and technology. In 1934, with Alikhanov and Michael Kozodaev, he discovered the production of electron–positron pairs by internal energy conversion. Then in 1936, with Alikhanov and Lev Artsimovich, he experimentally confirmed energy conservation in positron annihilation. Together with Alikhanov, he conducted precision measurements on the beta spectra of a large number of radioactive elements and discovered the dependence of spectral shape on the atomic number. He also proposed the experimental method to prove the existence of neutrinos through nuclear recoil in electron capture in 7Be.

In 1942 Alikhanian and his co-workers began their well known research on cosmic rays on mount Aragats near Yerevan. They discovered streams of fast protons in the cosmic rays; the intense production of protons by fast neutrons; a new type of shower (the so-called narrow shower); and the first hints of particles with masses ranging between those of the muon and the proton. Alikhanian also made significant contributions to the development of methods for the detection of high-energy particles, in particular the Alikhanian–Alikhanov mass spectrometer, wide-gap spark chambers, and X-ray transition radiation detectors.

As one of the founders and the first director of the Yerevan Physics Institute, Alikhanian led the development and construction of the 6 GeV Yerevan electron synchrotron. He also promoted the training of young physicists and from 1961 to 1975 organized the International Schools of High Energy Physics at Nor-Amberd, of which he was director. A staunch supporter of the international co-operation of scientists, his fidelity to science, his personality, and his great erudition captivated everyone.

Sissakian elected academician, Foster FRS

At its meeting in Moscow on 26 May–2 June, the General Assembly of the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS) elected Alexei Sissakian, director of JINR, as RAS full member (academician) and member of the RAS Presidium. This followed soon after Brian Foster, European regional director for the International Linear Collider (ILC) and head of particle physics at Oxford University, was elected Fellow of the Royal Society (FRS) in the UK.

Sissakian started his scientific career in 1968 at the Bogoliubov Laboratory of Theoretical Physics of JINR, and he became JINR vice-director in 1989. He has been director since 2006. Under his direct leadership for the past decade, JINR has implemented the research programme for the Nuclotron Accelerator Complex, including activities in the design and development of the Nuclotron-based Ion Collider Facility to collide heavy-ions at high energies. In addition to his many scientific accomplishments, Sissakian has contributed much to the development of JINR as an open international scientific centre, co-operating with other national and world scientific centres, in particular CERN.

Meanwhile, Brian Foster has been elected FRS on the basis of his leadership in the development of particle accelerators and detectors. Before becoming part of the core management for the ILC Global Design Effort, he was spokesman of the ZEUS experiment at DESY and chairman of the European Committee for Future Accelerators. The Royal Society recognizes Foster’s role as an "international leader in the development of accelerators, instrumentation and physics analysis of electron–positron and electron–proton colliders", and it stresses that his "vision of a strong UK contribution to this effort and to accelerator science is reflected in his founding the Adams Institute for Accelerator Science in Oxford and Royal Holloway University of London, of which he was the first director."