A new chair and new initiatives at ECFA

Manfred Krammer of the Institute of High-Energy Physics of the Austrian Academy of Sciences has become the chair of the European Committee for Future Accelerators (ECFA) and its "restricted’ subcommittee RECFA as of 1 January. He takes over from Tatsuya Nakada of École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne.

ECFA represents the interests of the high-energy particle-physics community from the CERN member states. It provides a unique forum for discussing developments, future projects and common interests in the field of high-energy physics. Information and views are exchanged between representatives from the various countries, as well as from the large laboratories. Biannual meetings allow the discussion of proposals and progress reports for new facilities, as well as reports from dedicated ECFA study groups and other items of importance for the community.

The RECFA subcommittee regularly visits the ECFA countries. These visits monitor the evolution of high-energy physics activities in the respective countries and – through contact with national policy-makers and funding agencies – promote the importance of high-energy physics in science and society.

A recent activity has been the study of the proposals and reports for future accelerator-based neutrino facilities. The review report of the relevant study group was presented at ECFA’s latest plenary meeting in November. The Conceptual Design Report of A Large Hadron Electron Collider at CERN (LHeC) was also presented at the same meeting. This report will be the focus of another ECFA review panel under the chair of Thomas Müller of Karlsruhe Institute of Technology.

During the meeting, a decision was also taken to create a European committee to review the R&D effort for future projects. High-energy physics relies heavily on detector R&D developments: every significant improvement in detection techniques opens a new area for fundamental-physics research. Considerable amounts of labour and financial resources are committed to this field across Europe and around the world. R&D programmes related to approved and well established scientific projects and collaborations, such as the LHC, are evaluated and followed up by existing committees run by the host laboratories. This is not the case, however, when an important, large-scale project is in its preliminary and preparatory phase but not yet approved and supported by a leading or host lab.

The new European committee will receive R&D proposals, make recommendations after evaluation and monitor progress. It will help to create coherence in the global R&D effort by encouraging synergies between different activities and advising funding agencies. It is primarily concerned with large R&D projects related to accelerator experiments, involving many laboratories and requiring significant resources. DESY will host this new committee, which will meet twice yearly, chaired by Yannis Karyotakis, director of the Laboratoire d’Annecy le Vieux de Physique des Particules. A first meeting is planned for 2–3 May at DESY.

The coming years will be exiting for particle physics, with spectacular results expected soon from the LHC experiments. These results will be the long-awaited input for the discussion on future projects in particle physics. The process to update the European Strategy for Particle Physics has just started with the aim to conclude in 2013 (CERN Courier January/February 2012 p5). ECFA will certainly play an active role in these discussions.

French labs form a cluster of excellence

On 11 January, the Laboratoire d’excellence (LABEX) P2IO (Physics of the 2 Infinities and Origins) was officially launched. LABEX is a recent initiative from the French government to promote clusters of excellence in various disciplines. P2IO is one of the largest such networks, regrouping the nine laboratories south of Paris that deal with particle physics, nuclear physics, astroparticle physics, cosmology, astrophysics and planetology, as well as three smaller teams.

Some 2000 people work in the P2IO teams, making it one of the strongest nodes in subatomic physic worldwide.

P2IO has three main objectives. It will explore the most pressing scientific and technological issues in the physics of the infinitely small and the infinitely large, and of the conditions for appearance of life. It will help to transform the way that these large laboratories – which represent a major fraction of the French national potential in these fields – work together by fostering greater synergy between them. It will also serve as a contact point and form a better structure for all of the new collaborations stemming from the future Paris-Saclay University.

P2IO has been granted an annual budget of €1.4 million for the next 10 years. This will be used mainly to recruit post-doctoral positions in the areas that are P2IO’s scientific priorities and to launch innovative and significant R&D programmes in the P2IO technological areas of accelerators, sensors and computing. In addition, P2IO will also support related activities in health (radiotherapy and imaging) and energy (nuclear energy for the future).

The launch ceremony, attended by 300 people, provided the occasion to present details of the various programmes and actions lines within P2IO. In the formal session, Jacques Martino, in the name of all the P2IO funding agencies (CNRS, CEA, Paris Sud University, École Polytechnique), expressed his satisfaction with P2IO’s rapid start-up (the 2012 budget has already been fully allocated), the attractiveness of the programme it supports, the strategic importance of such a network for all of the partners and the key role that it will play in the future Paris-Saclay University. He wished good luck to Guy Wormser, co-ordinator of the P2IO steering committee, and to all of the labs and teams involved.

• For more information on P2IO, see www.labex-p2io.fr.

New protocol links CERN, Georgia and JINR

A new tripartite protocol on Scientific and Technical Co-operation in High Energy Physics and Information Technologies was signed between CERN, the government of Georgia and the Joint Institute of Nuclear Research (JINR) in Dubna on 20 December. The minister of education and science, Dimitri Shashkini, visited CERN to sign on behalf of Georgia. The signature by the minister reflects both Georgia’s interest in expanding its co-operation with CERN and the new responsibility of the ministry of education and science for funding scientific activities. The agreement will provide enhanced participation of Georgian scientists in CERN’s projects, either directly or through Georgia’s membership in JINR.

Georgian physicists began participating in CERN’s activities in the early 1960s. Some of them played leading roles in the Boson Spectrometer experiment, which was approved at CERN in 1969 and carried out at Serpukhov. In the 1980s, individual Georgian physicists made contributions to the DELPHI and ALEPH experiments. Now, two Georgian teams – essentially supported by JINR – are involved in the ATLAS experiment; indeed, young Georgian physicists took part in detector construction, specifically for the muon chambers and the tile calorimeter, in JINR. Other groups from the Georgian Academy of Science and Tbilisi State University participate in the CMS experiment.

Beyond participation in the LHC experiments, the protocol also provides enhanced collaboration in theoretical physics, accelerator science and technology, engineering, and educational programmes, in which Georgia takes a great interest. In recent years, 16 teachers have participated in CERN’s High-School Teachers Programme, and a number of students have attended various programmes organized by CERN.

On 10 January, the President of the Republic of Serbia, Boris Tadí (left), and CERN’s director-general, Rolf Heuer, signed the agreement concerning the granting to Serbia of the status of associate membership as the pre-stage to membership of CERN (CERN Courier January/February 2012 p5).