Merger creates new institute for nuclear research


On 25 October, Grzegorz Wrochna was appointed director of the National Centre for Nuclear Research (NCBJ) in Świerk/Otwock, near Warsaw, for a 4-year term. The new institute came into operation on 1 September as the result of a decision by the Polish government to merge the POLATOM Institute for Atomic Energy and the Sołtan Institute for Nuclear Studies (IPJ) in Świerk. With approximately 1000 employees, NCBJ is now the largest research institute in Poland.

The centre is to continue basic research in physics in co-operation with various organizations, including CERN. Its strategic tasks also include support for the Polish nuclear-power programme and the construction of hi-tech devices (mainly accelerators and detectors) for research, industry and medicine.

Participation in the LHC programme at CERN remains a major priority of NCBJ. Its predecessor, IPJ, participated in the construction of straw tubes for the LHCb tracker, the ALICE electromagnetic calorimeter and the CMS muon trigger. Wrochna participated in this effort at CERN, co-ordinating activities on the CMS muon trigger in 1991–1998. Now, NCBJ is producing π-mode accelerating structures for Linac4 at CERN to provide a high-intensity proton beam for the LHC. NCBJ is also involved in neutrino experiments, including ICARUS and T2K, and is supporting the proposal of LAGUNA, a new-generation experiment, which could be located in the Sieroszowice mine in Poland.

NCBJ will also continue the tradition of nuclear physics. Over the past couple of years, its theorists published several widely cited papers explaining experimental results on the structure of nuclei and their interactions. Experimental groups have already started preparation for research at the Facility for Antiproton and Ion Research in Darmstadt.

One new direction for NCBJ is astroparticle physics. Experience with trigger systems and on-line processing of large data streams in particle-physics experiments led to the idea of the "Pi of the Sky" experiment (with the Institute of Theoretical Physics PAS and the Faculty of Physics, University of Warsaw), which detected the brightest γ-ray burst ever seen, GRB 080319B (CERN Courier June 2008 p12). Long experience with scintillating crystals is now paying off in the development of γ-ray detectors for satellite missions such as POLAR.

NCBJ participates actively in the construction of large research infrastructures, not only at CERN. This effort includes higher-order-mode absorbers for the XFEL linac in Hamburg, elements of neutral beam injection for the W-7X stellarator in Greifswald, co-operation with the European Spallation Source in Lund and the Solaris synchrotron in Cracow. In applications-related activities at NCBJ, the HITEC department exports medical accelerators for cancer radiotherapy and industrial accelerators for radiography of engineering structures, while the POLATOM Radioisotope Centre manufactures radioisotopes, mainly radiopharmaceuticals for medical diagnostics. Two large projects currently under development in NCBJ Świerk are the CIŚ Świerk Computing Centre, and the Świerk Science and Technology Park. The CIŚ Centre with its computing power of about 100 teraflops is going to start operations at the end of this year. The park is already accepting its first business customers.


First artist in residence at CERN starts in March

The first Prix Ars Electronica Collide@CERN has been awarded to Julius von Bismarck, a 28-year-old German artist. He will start his two-month residency at CERN in March, followed by a one-month residency with the transdisciplinary team at Futurelab at Ars Electronica, Linz. The work and experience of this joint collaborative residency will be showcased at the Ars Electronica Festival later this year.

The Prix Ars Electronica Collide@CERN is the digital-arts strand of the three-year Collide@CERN programme, initiated by CERN in 2011. It marks a three-year science/arts cultural partnership and creative collaboration between CERN and Ars Electronica, which began with CERN’s co-operation at Origin, the 2011 Ars Electronica Festival (CERN Courier October 2011 p43). The award was made following the jury meeting to assess 395 entries from more than 40 countries – received during the seven-week open call that was announced at the festival in September.

With a growing international reputation for his diverse and experimental artistic practice, von Bismarck received the award for "his proposal and work which manipulates and criticizes our notions of reality in unpredictable ways, often with inventive use of video, objects and public interventions". His works are also characterized by his fascination with complex philosophical and scientific ideas.

The artistic fields of the entries ranged from experimental sound work and music, architecture and sculpture to social-media projects that explore how people relate to science and technology. In recognition of the high level of interest and participation in the competition, as well as the quality and range of ideas shown by the international artists, the jury created an additional category of Honorary Mentions, which were awarded to the new-media artist Natasa Teofilovic, from Serbia; the interdisciplinary music theatre collaboration between composer Arnoud Noordegraaf, from the Netherlands, and writer Adrian Hornsby, from the UK; and the generative artist Eno Henze, from Germany.


Feeling Material XXXIV (2008) by Antony Gormley hangs over the stairwell in the entrance of CERN’s Main Building. Donated to CERN by the award-winning artist, it was formally unveiled by Sarah Gillett, the UK ambassador to the Swiss Confederation in a ceremony on 7 December. Gormley, winner of the Turner Prize in 1994, creates sculptures that explore the relation of the human body to space at large.


Greenberg reaches 80 as Matveev passes 70

Oscar Wallace "Wally" Greenberg, the theoretician best known for introducing the hidden three-valued colour charge carried by quarks, will celebrate his 80th birthday on 18 February. He continues as an active, full-time faculty member of the University of Maryland in College Park, where he has been since 1961.

Greenberg proposed the idea of colour in 1964 – soon after quarks were introduced – to resolve the paradox that quarks in the supermultiplet of ground-state baryons seemed to violate the Pauli exclusion principle. Because fractionally charged particles had not been observed, quarks with fractional charges seemed highly speculative at the time. Greenberg’s suggestion that quarks have a hidden three-valued charge, in addition to having fractional electric charge, seemed completely wild.

Undeterred by the scepticism of many physicists, to provide an experimental test for his proposal Greenberg calculated the pattern of excited states of baryons on the basis of the baryons having Fermi statistics. It took 10 years for data on excited states of baryons to show that his predictions were correct, thus establishing colour charge. Greenberg’s work, together with the gauging of the colour charge by Yoichiro Nambu and Moo-Young Han in 1965, provided the foundation for quantum chromodynamics, the current theory of strong interactions and an important component of the Standard model.

Greenberg is also known for proving that local and relativistically covariant quantum field theories must also obey CPT symmetry. He made a systematic analysis of possible quantum statistics in three or more space dimensions and of parastatistics with AML Messiah. He also invented "quons", a type of quantum statistics that interpolates between Bose and Fermi statistics, to provide a theory that can violate the usual statistics in three space-dimensions.

Viktor Matveev, director of the RAS Institute for Nuclear Research and director of the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research (Dubna), celebrated his 70th birthday on 11 December.

Matveev has made a number of important contributions in theoretical physics, including the development of methods of quantum field theory for studying high-energy scattering, the description of relativistic composite systems, the formulation of the quark theory of nuclear forces and studies of the effects of quark degrees of freedom in nuclei. He also introduced the notions of hidden colour and quark-counting rules.

As director of INR, Matveev played an important role in the realization of the Baksan and Baikal neutrino observatories and the Moscow Meson Factory at Troitsk. He also actively supports the integration of Russian physics programmes with international ones. He is a member of the Particle and Neutrino Astrophysics and Gravitation International Committee of IUPAP and serves as the chair of the Russia and Dubna Member States Collaboration Board in the CMS project at LHC at CERN.