New chair of Brookhaven physics department

Hong Ma has been named chair of the physics department at the Brookhaven National Laboratory in Upton, New York. He succeeds Laurence Littenberg, who became physicist emeritus at the end of June after having worked in the department since 1974. Ma, who took up the post on 1 July, will oversee a staff of 244 and an annual budget of about $100 million for nuclear and particle physics.

Ma earned a bachelor-of-science degree from Fudan University in Shanghai in 1983 and a PhD in physics in 1988 from the California Institute of Technology, where he continued as a research fellow until joining Brookhaven as a research associate in 1989. He is best known for developing detector components for particle-physics experiments at colliders, and since 1999 he has played a major role in designing and commissioning various detector systems and data-analysis software for the ATLAS experiment at CERN’s LHC. Ma was involved at every stage of the construction of ATLAS, including making important contributions to the liquid-argon calorimeter, and is currently contributing to Brookhaven’s efforts to upgrade the ATLAS silicon detector and liquid-argon calorimeter for the High Luminosity LHC. Brookhaven also serves as the host laboratory for US scientists involved in ATLAS research.

“It is a huge honour and responsibility to serve as the chair of this great department,” says Ma. “We are proposing, designing, and constructing the next-generation detectors while exploring the unknown with our currently running experiments. I am committed to maintaining the excellence required to do this fascinating science.”

Jefferson Lab director wins Glazebrook Medal

Hugh Elliot Montgomery, director of the Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility and president of Jefferson Science Associates LLC, has been awarded the Glazebrook Medal by the UK’s Institute of Physics (the IOP).

The Glazebrook Medal, which is named after the first director of the UK National Physical Laboratory and first president of the IOP, Richard Tetley Glazebrook, was first awarded in 1966. It is one of four gold medals awarded annually by the IOP in recognition of those who display outstanding leadership within the physics community. Montgomery was recognised for his leadership at Jefferson Lab and distinguished research in high-energy physics. He will receive the medal and a prize of £1000 at an event to be held later this year. “It is flattering and pleasing to receive such a prestigious award,” Montgomery says. “Of course, it is also a reflection of the people with whom it has been my privilege to work during my career.”

Non-locality bags Dirac Medal

Sandu Popescu of the University of Bristol, UK, has been awarded the 2016 Dirac Medal and Prize by the UK’s Institute of Physics for his influential research into non-locality.

Popescu identified non-locality as a defining aspect of quantum mechanics that is central to quantum information, and his work has played a crucial role in the modern view of non-locality as a resource that can be stored, transformed and consumed while performing useful tasks. In particular, he developed a scheme for quantum teleportation and collaborated in the first experimental realisation of this phenomenon. In collaboration with Daniel Rohrlich, Popescu identified the Popescu–Rohrlich correlations – which are now regarded as the basic unit of non-locality. He has also deepened our understanding of quantum thermodynamics – demonstrating that almost all subsystems are canonical, and that thermal equilibrium is reached for almost all initial states.

Daresbury physicist wins Rutherford Medal

John Simpson of the STFC Daresbury Laboratory, UK, has won the 2016 Rutherford Medal and Prize of the Institute of Physics for his outstanding leadership in the development of new detector technologies and systems for experimental nuclear-physics research, and for his seminal contributions to our understanding of the structure of atomic nuclei. Simpson has made important contributions in areas such as the discovery of robust exotic triaxial super-deformed collective structures, which represent possibly the highest spin values ever observed in atomic nuclei, and has contributed significantly to the health and vitality of world-leading nuclear-physics research over the past four decades through his leadership. This includes germanium detectors used in the European gamma-ray spectrometer collaboration EXOGAM, for example, and Simpson also played a leading role in the development of the EUROBALL gamma-ray spectrometer.

APS recognises nucleon structure

Anatoly Radyushkin, a scientist at the Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility and Old Dominion University in Virginia, US, has received the 2015 Jesse W Beams Research Award from the Southeastern Section of the American Physical Society. The award has been presented since 1973 to honour those whose “research led to the discovery of new phenomena or states of matter, provided fundamental insights into physics, or involved the development of experimental or theoretical techniques that enabled others to make key advances in physics”.

The citation for Radyushkin’s medal reads: “For the development of generalised parton distributions within the framework of quantum chromodynamics, enabling for the first time experimental measurements of the 3D structure of the nucleons.”

Artist wins CERN residency

South Korean artist Yunchul Kim has been awarded a two-month-long residency at CERN, having been announced as the winner of the 5th COLLIDE International Award in June.

Kim, whose work focuses on the artistic potential of fluid dynamics and metamaterials, will take up his residency in February 2017. He plans to develop a project called “Cascade”, which concerns the propagation of light through colloidal suspensions of photonic crystals.

The COLLIDE awards are a collaboration between CERN and an international cultural partner, which this year is the Foundation for Art and Creative Technology (FACT). Arts@CERN and FACT opened a call for entries in March, and this year more than 904 entries were received from a record 71 countries.

Milan exhibition opens its doors

On 13 July, a new exhibition opened in Milan, Italy, with the aim of opening visitors’ eyes to what makes the universe tick at the most fundamental level. Designed and produced by the Leonardo da Vinci National Museum of Science and Technology in partnership with CERN and the Italian National Institute of Nuclear Physics (INFN), the exhibition – titled “Extreme. In search of particles” – transports visitors into the history of particle physics. They discover a prototype of Carlo Rubbia’s UA1 detector, the Delphi experiment’s vertex detector and the University of Milan’s cloud chamber. 

Next ATLAS spokesperson selected

Karl Jakobs of the Albert-Ludwigs-Universitaet Freiburg, Germany, has been selected by the ATLAS collaboration board as the next spokesperson of the ATLAS experiment.

Jakobs, who has previously also worked on the UA2 and ALEPH experiments at CERN, and the D0 experiment at Fermilab, will start his term on 1 March 2017. He succeeds Dave Charlton of the University of Birmingham, who has been in the post since March 2013.

SUSY reports from down under

From 4 to 8 July, 254 physicists gathered at the University of Melbourne in Australia for the 24th International Conference on Supersymmetry and Unification of Fundamental Interactions (SUSY 2016). Around 65 students participated in the pre-SUSY school leading up to the event.

Summaries from ATLAS and CMS on their continued searches for supersymmetric particles confirmed no striking excesses in data recorded by the LHC at 13 TeV during 2015. These results have enabled the experiments to eclipse previous limits on the masses of squarks and gluinos set by data recorded at 8 TeV. While no evidence for SUSY was presented, the data points to several interesting hints – including a lingering excess in dileptons, jets and missing transverse momentum from ATLAS, for instance – that will surely be followed up as the LHC continues to deliver stable beams at high luminosity throughout 2016.

In particular focus at SUSY 2016 were corners of phase space that are difficult for the conventional searches to probe. CMS introduced their “data-scouting” technique, which allows them to probe lower in HT than their typical trigger strategy permits. Interesting new ideas to probe “compressed” spectra were also discussed, in addition to the range of techniques being used to search for SUSY now and potential improvements for the future. A busy flavour-physics session served as a timely reminder of indirect constraints on SUSY from the B factories, neutrinos and other low-energy observables.

SUSY 2016 saw a diverse range of talks representing many sectors of the vibrant theory community. The mass and properties of the Higgs boson continue to be a strong motivational force, leading to new results in higher-order precision Higgs-mass calculations in a variety of models and detailed studies of the alignment limit. The absence of any signal thus far from the LHC has also led to much work on “non-minimal” SUSY, which goes beyond the usual minimal supersymmetric Standard Model.

As expected, there was strong interest from the theory community in the recent 750 GeV diphoton excess observed by ATLAS and CMS, with a cornucopia of models presented in parallel sessions. Theorists were also interested in probing new directions, and the conference saw a number of parallel talks devoted to the opportunities for new-physics studies presented by the LIGO experiment’s discovery of gravitational waves.

SUSY 2017 will be held at the Tata Institute in Mumbai, India.

X-ray focus for CERN Accelerator School

A special course devoted to free electron lasers (FELs) and energy recovery linacs (ERLs), which was jointly organised by the CERN Accelerator School (CAS) and DESY, took place in Hamburg in Germany from 31 May to 10 June. The intensive programme comprised 44 lectures and one seminar, and was attended by 68 participants from 13 different countries including China, Iran and Japan.

FELs and ERLs produce extremely intense beams of X-rays by harnessing the synchrotron radiation emitted by electrons manipulated by powerful linacs, and are used by scientists from a broad range of disciplines to study the structure of materials.

Following introductory lectures on electromagnetism, relativity and synchrotron radiation, the school taught students the basic requirements of linacs and ERLs followed by detailed lectures on the theory of FEL science. Undulators and the process of lasing and seeding were treated in some detail, as were the topics of beam dynamics and beam control. Case studies also saw students split into small groups to pursue given tasks to complete the basic design of an FEL or an ERL.

Next year CAS will hold a specialised course devoted to beam injection, extraction and transfer on 10 to 19 March 2017 in Erice, Italy. A specialised course in collaboration with the Max IV Laboratory on vacuum for particle accelerators will also take place on 6 to 16 June in Lund, Sweden. Further information on forthcoming accelerator courses can be found on the CAS website

EuroScience Open Forum discusses science on a European scale

The seventh EuroScience Open Forum (ESOF 2016), which is billed as Europe’s largest public-facing scientific event, took place in late July in Manchester, UK. The event saw CERN Director-General Fabiola Gianotti take part in a keynote panel discussion with the science director of the European Southern Observatory, Rob Ivison (far left), and director-general of the European Molecular Biology Laboratory, Iain Mattaj (second from left). Moderated by Pallab Ghosh, the BBC̓s science correspondent, the panel discussed the importance of science on a European scale.

CERN and Turkey transfer knowledge

CERN and Turkey held a joint knowledge-transfer (KT) summit in Istanbul on 30–31 May, aimed at strengthening the links between science, technology and industry. The summit, held at Istanbul Bilgi University, brought together leaders from academia and industry, and was attended by representatives of the CERN Knowledge Transfer Group, Turkish technology-transfer offices and industrialists.

Around 100 participants from more than 35 university technology-transfer offices, 20 companies and several state institutions exchanged ideas on best KT practice – including Mehmet Durman, president of Istanbul Bilgi Univesity, and Serkant Ali Çetin, director of the university’s High Energy Physics Research Centre.

The summit was held roughly one year after Turkey became an Associate Member State at CERN, and the first session addressed the range of Turkish activities at CERN. There are currently 11 CERN programmes in which Turkish institutes collaborate, including the ATLAS and CMS experiments. Head of the KT Group at CERN, Giovanni Anelli, presented the broad range of activities at CERN that aim to accelerate the innovation process and maximise the impact of CERN’s activities on society. These range from medical applications for cancer diagnosis and treatment to providing clean energy through novel solar panels, and include licensing of CERN’s technologies and opportunities for Turkish start-ups. In addition, CERN has a Business Incubation Centre network for its full Member States. CERN has a direct link with Turkey’s innovative industry via CERN’s Turkish industry liaison officer Hakan Kızıltoprak.

Event spotlight

The IEEE Nuclear Science Symposium and Medical Imaging Conference 2016 (NSS/MIC) will take place in Strasbourg, France, from 29 October to 6 November. The NSS programme concerns the latest developments in instrumentation and data processing in fields ranging from particle physics to radiation therapy, and spans techniques from both single-channel small detectors to larger detector systems. MIC is a unique international scientific meeting devoted to nuclear medical imaging, and this year’s event will cover hardware and software developments both in multimodality imaging and radiation therapy. The Strasbourg event is also being held in conjunction with the 23rd International Symposium on Room-Temperature Semiconductor Detectors (RTSD), which represents the largest forum for semiconductor radiation detectors and imaging arrays. More details can be found at

HEPTech takes research out of the lab

The third annual symposium of the High-Energy Physics Technology Transfer Network (HEPTech), held on 19 to 25 June and hosted by Romania’s Horia Hulubei National Institute of Physics and Nuclear Engineering, brought together early stage researchers in high-energy physics and related scientific domains to discuss how to take their research out of the lab. Seventeen participants from nine European countries met entrepreneurs and experienced scientists to learn how science can impact society.

The topics covered intellectual-property rights and their protection, national and European funding sources for research and innovation, incubators in support of business ideas and start-ups, and rules of collaboration in physics. “Win-win” negotiation techniques were the focus of a role-play exercise to help students define business objectives, identify the interest of the other party and find a creative solution to a negotiation problem. Entrepreneurship case studies such as the Raspberry Pi and TravelTime platform API of iGeolise revealed how developments in research are transformed into marketable products.

The last two days of the symposium saw young researchers undertake exercises in preparing pitches, networking at a meeting, and introducing each other. Experts guided them through the secrets of where to find potential investors, how to attract their attention and how to identify the market share of their potential product and bring it to market.

HEPTech was created by CERN Council in 2006 to enhance and broaden the impact of particle physics on society, and its members are Technology-Transfer Offices of CERN Member States. The fourth HEPTech symposium will take place in Darmstadt, Germany, hosted by GSI Helmholtzzentrum für Schwerionenforschung, on 12 to 16 June 2017.


On 15 July, Iranian-US cosmonaut Anousheh Ansari visited the AMS (Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer) Payload Operations Control Centre on CERN’s Prévessin site, where she met AMS spokesperson and Nobel laureate Samuel Ting. Ansari was the first ever female space-flight participant, spending eight days on the International Space Station (to which the AMS experiment is attached) in 2006.

On 19 July, UK rock band Muse took a tour of the CERN site, which included a trip to the Antiproton Decelerator facility and the CERN Control Centre (pictured, with Muse frontman Matt Bellamy). The group was in the region for the Paléo Festival in Nyon, during which they dedicated their song “Supermassive Black Hole” to “our friends at CERN” before a capacity crowd of 35,000.