Carlo Rubbia awarded China’s highest scientific prize

Carlo Rubbia, Nobel laureate for physics in 1984 and CERN’s Director-General from 1989 to 1994, has been awarded the International Scientific and Technological Co-operation Award by the People’s Republic of China.

The award honours the significant contributions that Rubbia has made to China’s scientific development in the field of high-energy physics.

During the last 30 years, Rubbia has been devoted to promoting co-operation in science and technology between China and Europe. Particularly since 1989, when serving as Director-General of CERN, he promoted collaboration between CERN and the Institute of High Energy Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences (IHEPCAS), helped to construct the experimental high-energy physics base in China, and supported IHEPCAS in accessing the internet.

Under his leadership, in 1993 CERN proposed free internet protocols and procedures, which had important significance for the development of the internet as well as its application in China. Moreover, he enhanced co-operation in the fields of energy and the environment between Italy and China, and supported China’s research in accelerator-driven systems, with significant achievements.

Rubbia, who was appointed a senator-for-life of the Italian Republic in 2013, is currently a president of the Chinese University of Mining and Technology’s Institute of Sustainable Energy. The institute’s main research focus is on zero-emission energy systems, energy-storage systems, and transmitting electric power over long distances using superconductors.

This work follows his recent research on finding solutions to the world’s energy crisis through renewable sources. As a result of this, Rubbia has held several positions on energy advisory boards, including the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America. He is currently a professor at the Gran Sasso Science Institue (INFN) and spokesman of the ICARUS experiment (one of the three SBN experiments at Fermilab).

The prize – considered to be the top honour for foreign individuals – is awarded to several scientists each year for their contributions to China’s social, technological and economic development.

CERN is extremely proud of this new recognition for Rubbia, whose contribution to the history of both particle physics and CERN itself has been critical.

Rubbia was presented with the award by president Xi Jinping and premier Li Keqiang in Beijing on 8 January.


New director for Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

Michael Witherell, vice chancellor for research at the University of California Santa Barbara (UCSB), has been appointed the new director of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Lawrence Berkeley National Lab), in the US.

Witherell is a leading particle physicist with a highly distinguished career in teaching, research and managing complex organisations. He has received numerous honours and recognitions for his scientific contributions and achievements. Witherell is the former director of the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab) and currently holds the presidential chair in physics at UCSB.

Witherell is a member of the LUX collaboration (CERN Courier December 2013 p8) and he was also a member of the CMS collaboration. Before that, he studied e+e collisions with the BaBar, CLEO and SLD detectors, and charm production in fixed-target experiments at Fermilab E-691, with a particular interest in heavy-quark physics.

Lawrence Berkeley National Lab, the internationally renowned institution whose scientific expertise has been recognised with 13 Nobel prizes, is managed by the University of California on behalf of the US Department of Energy (DOE) since it was founded in 1931.


New leadership structure accelerates TRIUMF

With a fresh leadership structure at TRIUMF, the laboratory’s new deputy director (DD), Reiner Krücken, will guide the realisation of TRIUMF’s scientific vision.

TRIUMF recently instituted changes to the laboratory’s management structure, as the organisation enters into its latest five-year plan (FYP), 2015–2020. Changes included renaming the Science Division the Physical Sciences Division, and creating the Life Science Division, into which the current Nuclear Medicine Division will be integrated as a department. All divisions will be under the leadership of associate laboratory directors (ALDs, replacing division heads). Most significantly, a DD position was created, with Dr Reiner Krücken being appointed to the new role by director Jonathan Bagger. All changes were effective as of 1 October 2015.

The DD’s responsibilities include supporting the director in driving TRIUMF’s projects in the current FYP, such as the Advanced Rare IsotopE Laboratory (ARIEL) and the upcoming Institute for Advanced Medical Isotopes (IAMI). The DD will work across TRIUMF’s divisions – accelerator, physical sciences, life sciences, and engineering – to realise the FYP in a safe and effective manner, as well as to develop the laboratory’s long-term science strategy.

Krücken is ready for the job. He developed a profound knowledge of TRIUMF’s research programme while leading the laboratory’s (now) Physical Sciences Division since 2011, co-editing TRIUMF’s 2010–2015 FYP, and creating the ARIEL science workshop series. Moreover, he founded the Isotopes for Science and Medicine (IsoSiM) programme, a joint venture between TRIUMF and the University of British Columbia under the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) Collaborative Research and Training Experience (CREATE) programme umbrella. IsoSiM will expose students and postdocs to the interdisciplinary nature and applications of isotope science, providing them with a unique training opportunity within UBC and TRIUMF’s diverse research programmes. His broad scientific interests, which have evolved from experimental nuclear physics to applications of nuclear physics in medicine and other scientific fields, are particularly well suited for his role, interacting with all of the associate lab directors.

As the new DD, Krücken declares his primary goal to be achieving TRIUMF’s FYP vision. He emphasises that ARIEL is a key priority upon which the laboratory’s future is based, because it will solidify TRIUMF’s position as a world-leading isotope-production facility for studies in particle physics, nuclear physics, materials science and nuclear medicine.

With both Bagger and Krücken at the helm, and a new management structure in place, TRIUMF is well poised to navigate the challenges facing the laboratory in the exciting times ahead.


Aleksandr Skrinsky celebrates his 80th birthday

Aleksandr (Sasha) Skrinsky, currently the scientific leader of Budker Institute of Nuclear Physics (Russia), turned 80 on 15 January.

Skrinsky is well-known for his contribution to the development of colliding beams in storage rings. At the VEP-1 and VEPP-2 colliders in Novosibirsk, Skrinsky and colleagues conducted a series of pioneering tests of quantum electrodynamics and studies of vector mesons. Studies on the beams in storage rings led to the discovery of the longitudinal and transverse coherent instabilities and, subsequently, to the development of methods for their suppression. Skrinsky was also the first to show the nonlinear nature of the beam–beam effects in circular accelerators. In particular, he showed the role of nonlinear resonances and stochastic instability in reducing the luminosity of colliders.

In the 1970s, Skrinsky played a leading role in the development of the theory of spin motion in circular accelerators, based on the invention of the periodic spin precession axis. Together with colleagues, he proposed a method for the precise measurement of elementary particle mass by resonant depolarisation of electron–positron beams. In 1974, Skrinsky and colleagues developed the theory of "electron cooling" (proposed by G I Budker in 1967), and confirmed it experimentally. The method has been widely used at many laboratories around the world, including CERN, GSI (Germany), and IMP (China).

During the past few years, Skrinsky has worked on the ionisation cooling of muons for muon colliders. Skrinsky is an expert on free-electron lasers (FELs), for which he proposed the optical klystron. Largely through his efforts, a number of Russian laboratories have been involved in the LHC programme.

Today, while he continues to ski and run regularly, Skrinsky participates in experiments at the VEPP-4M and VEPP-2000 colliders, and is involved in the design of the Super-tau-charm factory, one of the most ambitious scientific projects in the field of high-energy physics.


JINR celebrates 90th birthday of academician Alexander Baldin

On 26 February, the scientific community of the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research (JINR) celebrated Alexander Mikhailovich Baldin, who was born on the same day in 1926 in the Krasnaja Presnja district of Moscow.

Baldin’s youth and student years were lived during the Second World War and post-war reconstruction. In 1946, he was invited to continue his studies at the newly established Moscow Mechanics Institute of Ammunition – later named the Moscow Engineering Physics Institute (MEPhI) – from which he graduated in 1949.

Baldin’s first research work was on the theory of particle motion in a cyclic accelerator. These investigations allowed him to develop a method that was used to improve the performance of JINR’s Synchrophasotron, and it is still being widely used in calculations for the design of new accelerators. In the early 1950s, Baldin developed the theory of meson photoproduction off nucleons and nuclei, and in 1973 he was awarded the USSR State Prize for pioneering research in pi-meson photoproduction.

In 1968, in his capacity as a scientific leader of JINR, Baldin set nuclear interactions at relativistic energies as a major research activity. Under his guidance, the Synchrophasotron was modified to become a specialised accelerator of relativistic and polarised nuclei, which led to the discovery of the nuclear cumulative effect predicted by Baldin. The results of the first period of studies with relativistic nuclei enabled Baldin to suggest the idea of a new, superconducting accelerator – the Nuclotron.

Baldin’s scientific and organisational activities were extremely versatile. He was president of the Council on Electromagnetic Interactions and a member of the Bureau of the Nuclear Physics Department of the Russian Academy of Sciences, editor-in-chief of the journals Physics of Elementary Particles and Atomic Nuclei and Physics of Particles and Nuclei Letters, as well as a member of the editorial boards of many scientific publications. Baldin was also very much appreciated for the effort he put into training younger scientists, giving lectures and organising international schools of physics.

The achievements of this outstanding scientist have been awarded with the Lenin Prize, the State Prize, and the V I Veksler Prize, as well as with several governmental awards. He has also been awarded orders and medals of the JINR member states. Baldin was also given the title of honorary citizen of the town of Dubna. The street that leads to the main gates of the laboratory is named after him.