Planning the route for new APPEC road map

Where next for European astroparticle physics? It’s less than five years since the last road map for astroparticle physics in Europe was published. In that short time, key scientific discoveries have been made, helping to indicate the direction for future research. The discovery of the Higgs boson at CERN, the detailed mapping of the cosmic microwave background by the Planck space telescope, and the recent direct detection of gravitational waves, have all energised the discipline. The Astroparticle Physics European Consortium (APPEC, has developed and expanded since the last road map in 2011, and on 6 and 7 April, APPEC convened a meeting in Paris to examine the current state of astroparticle physics, seek input from the community for the new road map, and hear its recommendations for funding agencies, research institutes and universities. The meeting was organised by former APPEC chair Stavros Katsanevas (APC) and his team, and the schedule and slides are available to view online ( Physicists and astronomers responded to the call enthusiastically and debated the first-draft "Considerations" presented by APPEC and its Scientific Advisory Committee.

More than 200 scientists and invited speakers gathered at the Sorbonne to review the different topics covered in astroparticle physics – a discipline at the intersection of particle physics, astronomy and cosmology – and to weigh up potential recommendations for inclusion in the road map. Those recommendations will look ahead to developments in the fields of multimessenger astronomy, neutrino properties, dark matter and energy, the cosmic microwave background and gravitational waves. While the scope for new discoveries across these fields is almost limitless, APPEC is committed to producing a "resource aware" road map that will respect the impact and constraints of available technology and funding, and also look at the important roles of computing infrastructure, education and outreach.

Joint actions

CERN’s Director-General, Fabiola Gianotti, was among the invited speakers at the meeting. She highlighted some of the complementarity between astroparticle-physics and particle-physics work at the LHC. She also laid out opportunities for the astroparticle-physics community – and said that in the future, there was potential for joint actions on detector research and development, technology transfer and infrastructure development. Fabiola Gianotti reminded the group about the opportunities to interact and develop ideas with the International Particle Physics Outreach Group at CERN.

Projects across the next decade will help to reveal some secrets about physics, and perhaps address questions where the Standard Model does not hold all of the answers with some "new physics". The CERN community can look forward to complementary particle-physics observations from the Pierre Auger Observatory – looking at natural particle accelerators and the potential of proton astronomy. Speakers from several countries highlighted the impetus that the direct discovery of gravitational waves has given to gravitational-wave research, and Advanced Virgo will allow Europe to become part of the global network of gravitational-wave detection and move towards the era of gravitational-wave astronomy. Observations of the high-energy universe such as those to be conducted by the Cherenkov Telescope Array and KM3NeT will also be important – these projects feature in the ESFRI road map and will certainly be included in the APPEC one. International collaboration will be vital for scientific advances, and co-ordination and ambition at a European level will help to boost worldwide experiments.

Speaking at the close of the meeting, APPEC chair Frank Linde (Nikhef) said that he believed there was room for developing greater ties with CERN, as well as uniting the community for APPEC common calls and European funding applications. He pointed out that astroparticle physics covers excellent and appealing science, incredible experiments, and a distributed but united community of researchers. APPEC will publish its road map later this year.

FCC Week 2016 showcases progress and challenges

From 11 to 15 April, more than 450 participants from all over the world met in Rome to discuss the progress achieved in the Future Circular Collider (FCC) study, and the challenges that lie ahead.

The future of high-energy physics in the timescale of the 21st century hinges on designing and building future colliders that could take an order of magnitude beyond the present energy and intensity frontiers. Reaching this goal in an efficient way calls for a large circular collider, and the FCC study explores different options.

The FCC study develops concepts for post-LHC circular colliders. The emphasis of the study is on a 100 TeV hadron collider, while an electron–positron collider is considered as a potential first step. A hadron–electron scenario is also examined, testifying to the rich programme of such a large-scale infrastructure. It was launched in 2014 as a direct response to the European Strategy for Particle Physics, and today embraces more than 70 institutes from 26 countries (CERN Courier April 2014 p16).

The second FCC Week showed that CERN and the worldwide physics community must now come together to prepare for the future. The full exploitation of the LHC, including its high-luminosity phase (HL-LHC), sets a timescale of 20 years (CERN Courier May 2016 p5). This timescale, along with the complexity of the FCC project and the desire to profit from other international studies for future accelerators, makes the FCC study a timely effort.

The physics potential for each of the FCC-study scenarios (proton–proton, electron–positron or electron–proton) was reviewed during the meeting. Each has its specific virtues, although there is also strong complementarity while they set certain challenges for the design of the machine and the experiments. Detector-design concepts for all three scenarios were also presented, while areas where further theoretical or experimental input is needed were identified. Technologies that need to be developed for the detectors (including electronics, trigger, and data links) were discussed, while a detailed report on physics at 100 TeV was presented in Rome and will soon be available online. The FCC physics programme shows that this infrastructure is not a mere follow-up on the past, but involves machines that could open new horizons in our quest to understand nature.

The meeting showcased the copious R&D efforts to push key technologies to meet the requirements of the FCC. Physicists, engineers and representatives from industry discussed the present challenges and opportunities in different areas, including: the development of superconducting materials; the 16 T superconducting magnets programme; the new superconducting radiofrequency cavities; and innovative vacuum systems and efficient cryogenics.

Finally, substantial progress has been made on infrastructure and operation studies. This includes the civil-engineering studies for a 90–100 km tunnel in the Geneva area that fits with the geographical conditions. Operational aspects also become crucial when thinking about such a machine – controls and machine protection, as well as energy-consumption, reliability and safety, were some of the topics covered during the meeting.

The FCC Week also featured the work of younger researchers: more than 100 presented their latest research in the poster sessions. Three of them received the FCC Innovation Award, which distinguishes early-stage researchers or engineers for outstanding work carried out within the scope of the study.

The efforts presented during the 2016 FCC Week will culminate in a Conceptual Design Report by 2019. This will serve as a decision aid for a future particle-research infrastructure.

Finally, a public event, "Discovery Machines", was organised during the FCC Week. Physicists and experts from economics met to discuss intriguing questions in modern physics and the societal impact of large-scale research infrastructures, including the development of new technologies, the training of young researchers, and cultural and major scientific breakthroughs.

The next FCC Week will take place in Berlin from 27 May to 2 June 2017. This meeting will mark a major review of the study, and will be an important step in launching the preparation of the FCC Conceptual Design Report.

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A successful year for SEENET-MTP

The Southeastern European Network in Mathematical and Theoretical Physics (SEENET-MTP) was founded in 2003 to organise scientific and research activities in the Balkan region, to promote the exchange of students and encourage communication between them, and to build institutional capacity in physics and mathematics The programme is a tool to provide an exciting working atmosphere for students from different centres and countries, who often share a feeling of isolation during their PhD studies (CERN Courier December 2013 p21).

In January 2015, with the support of the CERN Theory Department, the network launched a joint PhD training programme aimed at students from southeastern European countries. The main part of the programme was designed to be a series of intense, one-week schools for PhD students, advanced masters students, and young postdocs who study high-energy physics and related fields. Each school included lectures followed by appropriate exercises.

The first school was organised in 2015 in Belgrade (Serbia), on 21–27 June. The main topic of the seminar was supergravity, which was covered by the two guest lecturers, Leonardo Castellani (INFN Torino) and Hagen Triendl (CERN). The seminar was organised by the Faculty of Physics of the University of Belgrade, whose scientists also gave lectures and prepared exercises to test the students’ learning achievements. In total, 15 participants from six countries attended the seminar.

The second school was held later in the year in Bucharest (Romania) on 8–14 November. The title of the seminar was Modern Aspects of Quantum Field Theory. This event was mainly intended for PhD students who study high-energy physics and related fields. The topics of the school covered modern aspects of quantum field theory and applications. There were several guest lectures: Hubert Spiesberger (University of Mainz) gave a lecture on "Path integral formalism in QFT", and Nikolaos Tetradis (University of Athens and CERN) gave a talk entitled "Field theory, renormalization and cosmology". The programme was completed by Ciprian Acatrinei (Department of Theoretical Physics, IFIN-HH, Bucharest), who presented the challenges of "QFT in strong backgrounds – applications for ELI-NP" . The talk was followed by a colloquium on "Tachyon field theory and inflation" given by Goran Djordjevic (University of Niš, Serbia). The tutorial exercises were given by Nikolaos Brouzakis (University of Athens) and other scientists from Bucharest.

In total, 31 participants from seven countries attended this second school organised by SEENET-MTP. We are very much indebted to the local organising team at Horia Hulubei National Institute and the Faculty of Physics, Bucharest.

The SEENET-MTP activities, including the very successful PhD programme, are possible thanks to the support of the 14 full members of the network and, in particular the main local organisers. Importantly, most of the travel and local expenses were covered through a CERN grant transferred to the local organising institutions.

The SEENET-MTP network, expressing its thanks for support of the programme, gave awards of merit to Sergio Bertolucci, director of Research and Scientific Computing at CERN (2009–2015), and Wolfgang Lerche, head of the CERN TH Group (2013–2015). Ignatios Antoniadis’s support of the programme, in its initial phase, and that of Luis Alvarez-Gaume during the whole period, is warmly acknowledged.

It is expected that new schools will be organised in the framework of the SEENET-MTP PhD training programme in 2016.

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Events calendar (click to enlarge)

Events calendar