Carlile honoured for bringing the ESS to Sweden

The Swedish minister for education, Jan Björklund, presented Colin Carlile with the Royal Order of the Polar Star at a ceremony in Stockholm on 27 June. The distinction marked Carlile's significant contributions to the European Spallation Source (ESS) project, a facility for materials research and life sciences that will be built in Lund in Sweden.

British-born Carlile moved to Sweden in 2006 as a visiting professor at Lund University, following his directorship at the Institut Laue-Langevin in Grenoble. His aim to bring the ESS to Sweden was achieved in May 2009, after a long and determined campaign with Allan Larsson. After seven years as ESS director-general, Carlile stepped down in February this year with the delivery of all promised pre-construction documentation to the 17 ESS partner countries. He continues to develop a strong scientific environment around ESS, while also driving scientific development at Science Village Scandinavia.

The Royal Swedish Order of the Polar Star was established in 1748 by King Fredrik I and is now only awarded to foreign nationals or stateless persons who have made personal efforts for Sweden or for Swedish interests.

Honorary degrees for Johannes Blümer and Carlos Pajares

The close connection between the Universidad Nacional de San MartÆn (UNSAM) in Buenos Aires and the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) is reflected in the award of Doctor Honoris Causa to Johannes Blümer, a senior member of the Pierre Auger Observatory and spokesperson of the KIT Center Elementary Particle and Astroparticle Physics (KCETA).

Blümer was honoured for his "outstanding support and dedication to the development of astroparticle physics in the country, where he participated in major joint projects, and the training of international young researchers" He received the award from Carlos Ruta, rector of UNSAM. UNSAM and KIT set up a dual degree PhD programme that began in May.

The ceremony on 11 June in Buenos Aires was followed by a two-day German-Argentinean astroparticle-physics workshop at the Universidad Nacional de La Plata and the Universidad de Buenos Aires.

On the same day, in Russia, Carlos Pajares received an Honorary Doctoral Degree from the University of St Petersburg. He is honoured for his work on high-energy nuclear interactions, for forming a widely known phenomenological group in the University of Santiago de Compostela and for his role in the active collaboration between the two universities for more than two decades. Pajares has been the Spanish scientific delegate to the CERN Council (2008–2012) and was the first dean of the physics faculty (1980–1984) and then rector (1984–1990) of the University Santiago de Compostela.

Buras elected to Warsaw academy

Andrzej Buras, professor of theoretical elementary particle physics at the Technische Universität München (TUM) and the TUM Institute for Advanced Study, has been elected a foreign member of the Polish Academy of Sciences in Warsaw. A leading researcher in applied quantum field theory, he is elected on the basis of his studies of strong-interaction (QCD) effects in deep-inelastic processes, calculations of higher-order QCD effects in weak and rare meson decays and extensive studies of the physics beyond the Standard Model in flavour-changing neutral-current processes.

CAQCD: 20 years of developments in QCD

Some 40 experts from around the world descended on Minneapolis on 16–19 May to analyse the latest developments in strongly-coupled gauge theories and to exchange their opinions. They were attending the Continuous Advances in QCD (CAQCD) conference, which was held at the William I Fine Theoretical Physics Institute at the University of Minnesota.

The 2013 CAQCD meeting was special because it was the tenth meeting in the series. The proceedings of the previous conferences – they are held biannually – reveal the developments of QCD and related theories from the early 1990s. Some topics, such as the chiral symmetry breaking – and chiral physics in general – are evergreen: they have been discussed at every meeting during the 20 years since the first conference. It is instructive to trace how new themes came into being and took centre stage: exact results in multi-parton amplitudes, high-temperature and high-density QCD, baryons at large N (1994), heavy-quark theory (1996), supersymmetry-based tools in strongly coupled gauge theories (1998), approaches based on holography (2000), supersymmetric critical solitons (2002), the pentaquark controversy (2004), planar equivalence between supersymmetric and nonsupersymmetric theories (2006), anti-de Sitter/QCD (2008) and – finally – QCD in cylindrical geometry and bions (2011).

Among highlights of the 2013 conference were the talks by Thomas Cohen, Nikita Nekrasov, Mithat Ünsal, Zvi Bern, Maxim Pospelov and others.

EDIT goes to Asia for young experimenters to learn more about detectors

The international school Excellence in Detectors and Instrumentation Technologies (EDIT), which aims to provide graduate students and young postdoctoral researchers with in-depth knowledge of major aspects of detectors and instrumentation technologies, started in Europe at CERN in 2011. Having been hosted by Fermilab in North America in 2012, it moved to Asia this year when KEK hosted EDIT 2013.

Forty-nine highly motivated students from 23 countries were selected to participate, about 30% having a background in particle physics. An indication of the school's successful global nature is that half of the participants came from Asia and the other half from the West.

The school's programme consisted of plenary lectures, laboratory courses and facility tours. The morning sessions began with plenary lectures on topics ranging from particle and nuclear physics to astrophysics. Leading researchers from various international physics programmes provided exciting talks. They had time to discuss not only the experimental results but also the structure of the detector system and the ingenuity of its instruments. The lectures were broadcast via a live channel of "Ustream" for those who had not been accepted onto the course.

The laboratory courses took place in the afternoons with a variety of "hands-on" exercises, on topics ranging from data acquisition (DAQ) through to various types of detector to work with cosmic rays. In the exercise on FPGA and DAQ systems, for example, the participants learnt how to work with a field-programmable gate array (FPGA) and DAQ, including data-taking software, by constructing a system to measure the muon lifetime using a FPGA training board.

Six of the exercises focused on a specific kind of detector. As an example of a silicon tracking detector, students assembled their own silicon-strip sensors and practised wire-bonding manipulation, before evaluating the sensor's characteristics. They then confirmed their detector's response using pulsed green LED light. Superconducting detectors were represented by the microwave-kinetic-inductance detector (MKID) device. Each student fabricated a device using a photolithography technique and evaluated its performance at a temperature of 0.3 K.

Other exercises provided experience of using a particle detector of a liquid noble liquid gas, by detecting scintillation light and ionization charges in liquid xenon. For gaseous detectors, each student constructed a chamber with a single wire and measured various radiations. After a briefing on micropattern gaseous detectors, they observed the signals from a gas electron multiplier (GEM) and measured how the gain varied with several parameters.

The participants also learnt the basics of two typical photon sensors, the photomultiplier and the Geiger-mode avalanche photodiode – the silicon photomultiplier, or multi-pixel photon counter (MPPC) – through measurements to characterize various properties. In another exercise, this time focusing on neutrino detection, the students first learnt how to measure the basic performance of the MPPC, wavelength-shifting fibres and plastic scintillator bars that are used in the T2K neutrino experiment. Then they used cosmic rays to test a small hodoscope.

The participants also had the opportunity for one exercise to stay at the Tokai site of the Japan Proton Accelerator Research Complex (J-PARC). The aim was to gain experience in detector tests using a test beam – but an unfortunate problem with the accelerator meant that the students took data using cosmic rays instead.

On the first and last days, tours took place at KEK'S Tsukuba campus and J-PARC. Before the farewell party, participants received a Japanese-style certificate from KEK's Junji Haba, the director of EDIT 2013. Altogether, the school created a close friendship among participants, which could prove invaluable in their future lives as experimentalists.

• For more information, see the EDIT 2013 website