Paolo Giubellino to lead FAIR and GSI

Italian physicist Paolo Giubellino, who is currently spokesperson for the ALICE experiment at the LHC, has been appointed the first joint scientific managing-director and spokesperson of the directorate of the Facility for Antiproton and Ion Research in Europe GmbH (FAIR GmbH) and GSI Helmholtzzentrum für Schwerionenforschung GmbH in Darmstadt, Germany. Giubellino will take up his new position on 1 January, succeeding Boris Sharkov of FAIR and Karlheinz Langanke of GSI.

Giubellino has participated in many heavy-ion experiments at CERN and has been ALICE spokesperson since 2011. He has worked at the Torino section of the Italian National Institute for Nuclear Physics since 1985 and has served as research director since 2006.

“With the extensive international experience Paolo Giubellino gained at CERN in Switzerland, he has ideal prerequisites to tackle the assignment in Darmstadt,” says Otmar Wiestler, president of Germany’s Helmholtz Association. “Being able to attract people like Paolo Giubellino to FAIR shows the worldwide appeal of Helmholtz research. We have chosen the right path with our strategy to pursue a more international course.”


TRIUMF appoints new science associate director

Jens Dilling has been appointed TRIUMF’s new associate laboratory director (ALD) for its physical-sciences division, effective from 1 September. Dilling was recruited to TRIUMF in 2001 as a research scientist and has since served as deputy and department head for nuclear physics and deputy division head of the science division.

Dilling received both his diploma and PhD in physics from the University of Heidelberg, Germany. An expert on ion traps, his research interests include precision atomic-physics techniques applied to nuclear physics at accelerators. He led the design, construction and operation of TRIUMF’s Ion Trap for Atomic and Nuclear science (TITAN) facility.

As ALD of physical sciences, Dilling will provide leadership and direction for TRIUMF’s local and international scientific programme in particle and nuclear physics and molecular and material sciences. He will also work closely with TRIUMF’s accelerator division to foster isotope delivery and prepare the lab for upcoming facilities including the Advanced Rare IsotopE Laboratory (ARIEL).


LHCb recognises young scientists

The LHCb collaboration has announced the winners of its inaugural thesis prize, which recognises students who have produced the best theses and made exceptional contributions to the LHCb experiment. The recipients of the first awards for theses defended during 2015 are Lucio Anderlini of the University of Florence for his thesis “Measurement of the Bc+ meson lifetime using Bc+ J/ψμ+νμ X decays with the LHCb experiment at CERN”; Daniel Craik of the University of Warwick for “A measurement of the CKM angle γ from studies of D K π Dalitz plots”; and Agnieszka Dziurda of the Institute of Nuclear Physics PAN in Krakow for “Studies of time dependent CP violation in charm decays of Bs0 mesons”.


CHIPP prize for neutrino researcher

The annual prize of the Swiss Institute of Particle Physics (CHIPP) 2016 goes to Mohamed Rameez, a 27 year old neutrino physicist who recently completed his PhD at the University of Geneva, for his leadership in searches for dark-matter annihilation in the Sun with the IceCube Neutrino Observatory and his contribution to their theoretical interpretation.


Perimeter physicist wins early researcher award

Perimeter Institute faculty member Asimina Arvanitaki has received a grant of $140,000 to advance her research. The Early Researcher Awards are administered by Ontario’s Ministry of Research, Innovation and Science to help promising young faculty members build research teams. Arvanitaki, who holds the inaugural Stravros Niarchos Foundation Aristarchus Chair at the Perimeter Institute, is exploring novel experimental approaches to particle physics that may be done with small-scale experiments rather than large colliders.


DESY inaugurates new research halls

On 14 September, the DESY laboratory in Hamburg, Germany, celebrated the opening of two new experimental halls at its synchrotron X-ray facility PETRA III. The halls, which will provide highly specialised experimental stations that allow synchrotron users to examine materials and structures on the atomic scale, were named after two prominent scientists and X-ray users: Israeli Nobel laureate Ada Yonath, who conducted important research at DESY and other European light sources for her structural examination of ribosomes, and the late Paul P Ewald, who was one of the pioneers of structural analysis using X-rays.


CERN event links particles to astrophysics

The annual TeV Particle Astrophysics (TeVPA) conference series discusses the most recent advances in the booming field of astroparticle physics. This year’s event took place on 12–16 September and for the first time was hosted by CERN. It was a fitting location, given the well-established implications of particle physics for astrophysics and cosmology, as well as the long-standing commitment of CERN on related activities such as the CAST solar-axion experiment.

The five-day-long event was attended by almost 300 people, with topics including gamma rays,  gravitational waves and cosmology, indirect and direct dark-matter searches, and links with particle physics. The highlight of discussions was the Advanced LIGO discovery of gravitational waves from two binary black-hole mergers, which opens a new astrophysical window on the universe. Equally exciting were the broader perspectives of this field, including the mind-boggling reach of the space-based gravitational-wave detector LISA, which will target phenomena ranging from supermassive black-hole mergers to physics in the early universe.

During the conference, the POLAR gamma-ray burst polarimeter on board the Chinese TG-2 space lab was launched, and delegates also heard a report on preliminary observations made by the space-based DAMPE detector, which was launched at the beginning of the year. Whereas POLAR will focus on gamma-ray bursts, DAMPE targets cosmic-ray observations with an excellent energy resolution at TeV energies.

The field of charged cosmic rays also saw the presentation of the first scientific results of CALET, which is located on the Japanese module of the International Space Station. Launched 13 months ago, CALET has a very deep calorimeter and excellent nuclear-identification capabilities. Energetic electron candidates above the TeV have been identified and the experiment has also placed upper limits on the gamma-ray counterparts of the gravitational-wave merger event of last December. An update on AMS-02 results was also presented, hinting that the positron spectrum “turns off” at sub-TeV energies. The conference also brought physicists up to date with the latest positive progress of the innovative cosmic-ray anti-deuteron experiment GAPS – a high-altitude balloon experiment that aims to stop and capture anti-nuclei and identify them spectroscopically.

The maturity of gamma-ray astrophysics thanks to space-based instruments like Fermi and ground-based Cherenkov telescopes, both for galactic and extragalactic objects, was manifest. There was also a report on the first results from HAWC, which is the latest realisation of a “Cherenkov water pool” to detect byproducts of gamma-ray showers on the ground. In its first year of operation, HAWC already found around 40 galactic sources in the multi-TeV range, about 10 of which were unknown until now, and the instrument is ideally placed to study possible gamma counterparts to IceCube neutrino events.

Even fields in which no direct discoveries have yet been made have experienced a remarkable boost in sensitivity in recent years: the latest limits from LUX and PandaX, for example, are around 10 times better than those set by Xenon in 2012 for spin-independent cross-sections. The still puzzling interpretation of astrophysical neutrinos, which have now been detected up to energies of several PeV by IceCube, was another discussion point at TeVPA 2016. Plans to increase the performance of MeV–GeV neutrino detectors such as SuperKamiokande via gadolinium doping, which are important for diffuse supernova neutrino detection, are also proceeding well.

The path towards further key measurements from cosmology to particle physics, notably in the neutrino sector, was highlighted – as were some of the current difficulties of the cold dark-matter model and possible strategies to address them. The importance of the forward-physics programme at the LHC for cosmic-ray shower simulations, the role of effective field theories and simplified theories for dark-matter searches at the LHC, and the role of ongoing LHCb measurements of proton–helium cross-sections for cosmic-ray antiproton calculations were just a few examples of the numerous links between particle physics and the astroparticle field.

The next TeVPA meeting will be held next summer at Ohio State University, Columbus, in the US.


Netherlands focus for 2016 ENLIGHT meeting

The annual meeting of the ENLIGHT network, which gathers experts working on particle therapy for cancer treatment, was hosted by Nikhef and held at the University of Utrecht in the Netherlands on 15–17 September. Around 100 participants from 15 countries attended, and one of the key discussion topics was the design and realisation of four new centres for proton therapy in the Netherlands, following the recent approval by the Dutch government to make proton therapy available nationwide.

The new Dutch centres for proton therapy are distributed across the entire country. The Holland Proton Therapy Centre (PTC) in Delft and the UMC Groningen PTC are already under construction and foresee first patient treatments in autumn–winter 2017. The PTC in Maastricht is heading towards the construction phase and expects treatments to start in 2018, while the fourth PTC in Amsterdam is currently tendering for technical equipment and plans to enter into operation at the end of 2018. All four centres will have one or two treatment rooms equipped with gantries that allow a complete rotation of the beam axis to better target the tumour, and together are expected to treat more than 1000 patients each year.

The institutions involved in establishing the new centres are members of the ENLIGHT network, which was created in 2002 to co-ordinate and accelerate the activities of European centres (including CERN) and research groups working on particle therapy. A major achievement of ENLIGHT has been the blending of traditionally separate communities to allow clinicians, physicists, biologists and engineers to work towards a common goal. The flourishing of new centres such as those in the Netherlands is both an achievement and a raison d’être for the network.

In addition to the collaborative and interactive model of the new Dutch centres, many other hot topics were discussed, including recent breakthroughs in medical imaging. This is vital to deliver effective treatment while avoiding side effects caused by damage to healthy cells. Positron emission tomography (PET), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and computed tomography (CT) scans are used alone or in combination (multi-modal imaging) to assess the volume and the position of the tumour before, after and during treatment, whenever possible. In the case of moving organs such as the lungs, the situation is more complicated because it is necessary to monitor the patient during treatment. The integration of MRI with a linear accelerator, for example, can provide image-guidance concurrent with treatment, reducing the patient exposure to the additional ionising radiation of CT scans.

Image-guided proton therapy (IGPT) is an instance of the shift to more personalised and precise oncology, where treatments are tailor-made for each patient. Another strand of this paradigm shift in medicine is informatics based on past cases to assist doctors in selecting the best combination of treatments. Such systems can be built only if clinical data are accessible. This is controversial due to privacy concerns, but important changes in society are taking place towards massive data gathering and sharing.

Since its establishment, ENLIGHT has given primary importance to the training of young researchers and physicians in this specialised field. PTCs require highly trained staff comprising medical doctors, physicists, radiobiologists and technicians, yet few experts exist in this emerging field. Therefore, in a first for the ENLIGHT consortium, this year’s meeting included a one-day training event devoted to key aspects of particle therapy, including radiobiology, medical imaging and data sharing.

The next annual ENLIGHT meeting will be held in June 2017 in Aarhus, where Denmark’s first particle-therapy centre is under construction.


Higgs Hunting 2016

The seventh Higgs Hunting workshop took place in Paris between 31 August and 2 September, attracting 130 physicists for lively discussions about recent results in the Higgs sector. ATLAS and CMS presented results based on more than 13 fb–1 of data recorded at an energy of 13 TeV, which corresponds to around half of the data that has been taken so far at the LHC. The uncertainty on some measured properties of the Higgs boson discovered at CERN in 2012, such as the production cross-section, is already smaller with the 13 TeV data than it was after LHC Run 1 at 7 and 8 TeV – especially in cases where the measurement is dominated by statistical errors.

Several searches for phenomena beyond the Standard Model, in particular for additional Higgs bosons, were presented. In particular, ATLAS and CMS did not confirm with the 2016 data the small excess around a mass of 750 GeV in the diphoton invariant mass spectrum that was present in the 2015 data, which was thought by many theorists to be a spin-0 Higgs-like object. At the end of the 2016 run, which is expected to increase the recorded luminosity at 13 TeV by a factor of three, searches for heavier Higgs-like objects will be possible. The increased luminosity will also decrease the statistical errors by almost a factor of two, demanding that the experiments work hard to reduce systematic uncertainties.

The next Higgs Hunting workshop will be held in Orsay and Paris on 24–26 July 2017.


African school goes from strength to strength

The fourth biennial African School of Fundamental Physics and Applications took place on 1–19 August in Kigali, Rwanda. The event saw 75 students, who were chosen from 439 applicants from around the African continent, spend three weeks at the University of Rwanda’s College of Sciences and Technology, during which 40 lecturers from different fields in physics flew in from CERN and many parts of the world to teach and mentor the students.

“What makes this programme unique is that we tailor-make each programme according to what area of physics is interesting to the host country,” says Ketevi Assamagan, a physicist at Brookhaven National Laboratory in New York and member of the International Organising Committee of the school. “The ultimate goal is to host the school in as many countries on the continent as possible, with the help of host-country governments.”

The biennial summer school, which was launched in South Africa in 2010, has previously been hosted by Ghana in 2012 and by Senegal in 2014. This year, the school received financial support from CERN and 19 other institutions, including the International Centre for Theoretical Physics (ICTP), Brookhaven National Laboratory, the South African National Research Foundation and Department of Technology, the Rwandan Ministry of Education, INFN and other major particle-physics laboratories.

The next event will be hosted by Namibia in 2018, and promises to attract an even greater number of applications from students across Africa. Visit www.africanschoolofphysics.org for more information.


Event spotlight

The first Future Circular Collider (FCC) physics workshop will take place at CERN on 16–20 January 2017, focusing on the broad physics opportunities offered by the FCC programme. The workshop will also address experimental requirements and machine–detector interface issues that are directly relevant to the physics programme. All sessions will be plenary, with an emphasis on the complementarity of the different components of the programme (ee, hh and eh). Original ideas and contributions on alternative experimental approaches in the global context of the FCC – also including physics with beam dumps and the injector complex, and physics in the forward region – are strongly encouraged. The event will precede the 2017 FCC week due to take place in Berlin from 29 May to 2 June (fccw2017.web.cern.ch).


Visits

Around 70 participants in the Virgin Galactic space programme were joined by Richard Branson (third from left), founder of the Virgin group, on 31 August for a tour of CERN, which took in the SM18 hall.


On 13 September, Canadian rock group Nickelback took a day out of their European tour to visit CERN, which included a trip to the CMS building.