Faces and places

New director for particle physics at RAL • Friedrich Wilhelm Bessel award for Higgs phenomenology • NSREC accolade for radiation paper • Swiss Physical Society presents annual awards • Particle interactions up to the highest energies • Higgs hunters meet up in Orsay and Paris • Göttingen hosts HASCO summer school • Research infrastructures event brings particle physics into focus • CERN is guest of honour at Swiss National Day • Packed house for CHEP public event

New director for particle physics at RAL

Dave Newbold

Dave Newbold from the University of Bristol has been appointed director of the particle physics department for the UK’s Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC), based at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory (RAL) in Oxfordshire. Previously head of particle physics at the University of Bristol, Newbold is a member of the CMS collaboration and currently leads the UK’s CMS upgrade programme. He is also trigger and data-acquisition coordinator for the international Deep Underground Neutrino Experiment based in the US. Succeeding Dave Wark of the University of Oxford, Newbold took up the new position at RAL in September.

Funded and managed by the STFC, RAL supports the UK particle physics programme by providing capabilities that complement and go beyond what can be done in individual universities. The laboratory recently marked its 60th anniversary (CERN Courier March 2018 p46) and comprises more than 1000 researchers, engineers and technicians working across a number of areas. It currently hosts two major research facilities – the ISIS neutron and muon source and the Central Laser Facility – and is a Tier-1 node of the CERN–UK distributed computing grid, GridPP.

Among his goals as director of the particle physics department, Newbold intends to focus on integrating RAL more closely with UK universities and to strengthen relations with CERN and other international laboratories. “RAL particle physics has a world-class team, backed with all the facilities of the national lab,” he says. “With LHC upgrade construction now starting, we have an intense few years of activity coming up across the UK institutes – we’ll be supporting that, and developing plans for a number of new projects in particle physics. I’m looking forward to the challenge.”


Friedrich Wilhelm Bessel award for Higgs phenomenology

Michael Spannowsky

Theorist Michael Spannowsky of the Institute for Particle Physics Phenomenology at Durham University in the UK has been awarded a Friedrich Wilhelm Bessel Research Award in recognition of his work on Higgs-boson phenomenology.

The award recognises a recipient’s outstanding research record and covers a number of disciplines, not just physics. The Alexander von Humboldt Foundation grants about 20 awards per year and winners receive funding to enable them to spend up to a year collaborating on a long-term research project with colleagues at a German institution.

Spannowsky’s research has contributed to the design of novel reconstruction and analysis strategies to improve measurements of the top- and bottom-quark Yukawa couplings and the Higgs self-interaction. He will use his award to collaborate with colleagues at the University of Tübingen in southwest Germany on research into dark matter and Higgs phenomenology.


NSREC accolade for radiation paper

Faccio and co-authors

Federico Faccio from CERN has received the Outstanding Conference Paper Award for the 2017 IEEE Nuclear and Space Radiation Effects Conference (NSREC), as lead author of the paper titled “Influence of LDD spacers and H+ transport on the total ionising-dose response of 65 nm MOSFETs irradiated to ultra-high doses”. The prestigious award was presented at this year’s NSREC, which took place in Kona, Hawaii, on 16–20 July.

The paper (doi:10.1109/TNS.2017. 2760629), which summarises the work of a collaborative effort between CERN and the universities of Padova, Salento, Udine and Vanderbilt, marks an important contribution to the understanding of how radiation influences the behaviour of modern CMOS processes. Faccio leads a small team of experts at CERN studying radiation effects in microelectronics, for instance identifying commercially available processes for use in the extreme radiation environment of the LHC detectors.


Swiss Physical Society presents annual awards

Award winners

At its 2018 annual meeting, held at École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) on 28–31 August, the Swiss Physical Society (SPS) recognised the achievements of four researchers working in the area of high-energy physics.

Theorist Lavinia Heisenberg, a junior fellow at ETH Zurich, was presented with the ABB General Physics Prize “for her pioneering and essential contributions to alternative theories of gravity”. Heisenberg studies the fundamental properties of field theories, their cosmological consequences and possible signatures, with the aim of comparing general relativity with alternative theories of gravity.

The Charpak-Ritz Prize 2018, granted jointly by the SPS and the French Physical Society, was presented to Roland Horisberger of the Paul Scherrer Institute at the Journées de la Matière Condensée in Grenoble on 27 August for his extensive work development of precision silicon vertex detectors. Horisberger made important contributions to the silicon microstrip detector for the DELPHI experiment at CERN’s Large Electron Positron Collider, the H1-central vertex detector at DESY’s HERA collider, and the pixel detector for the CMS experiment at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC). He has also successfully transferred novel detector technologies, such as PILATUS pixel detectors, to the field of synchrotron science.

Accelerator physicist Claudia Tambasco of EPFL received the 2018 Swiss Institute of Particle Physics (CHIPP) Prize for PhD research that improved the understanding of the stability of proton beams in the LHC. In her thesis work she measured the Landau damping of the LHC beams, a process that reduces beam losses caused by interactions between the proton beam and the vacuum pipe. The results led to a proposal that increased the integrated luminosity, and have also been applied to future colliders such as the FCC.

Finally, Maurice Bourquin of the University of Geneva, who in 2001 was elected as the first and so-far-only Swiss president of the CERN Council, was made an honorary member of the SPS. Bourquin was recognised for his enormous scientific achievements in particle and astroparticle physics, his extraordinary commitment in science policy at CERN and at Swiss universities implementing the Bologna Reform, and also for his far-sighted commitment to the promotion of future thorium-based nuclear reactors.


Particle interactions up to the highest energies

ISVHECRI 2018 participants

The 20th International Symposium on Very High Energy Cosmic Ray Interactions (ISVHECRI 2018) was held in Nagoya, Japan, on 21–25 May. More than 120 attendees from 19 countries discussed various aspects of hadronic interactions at the intersection between high-energy cosmic-ray physics and classical accelerator-based particle physics. The 65 contributions reflected the large diversity and interdisciplinary character of this biennial series, which is held under the auspices of the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics.

In his opening address, Sunil Gupta paid a tribute to Oscar Saavedra, one of the leading scientists and founders of the ISVHECRI series, who passed away in 2018. Following the long tradition of this symposium series, the main topic was the discussion of particle physics of relevance to extensive air showers, secondary cosmic-ray production, and hadronic multi-particle production at accelerators. This time, the symposium expanded its coverage of multi-messenger astrophysics, especially to neutrino and gamma-ray astrophysics. Many talks were invited from the Pierre Auger Observatory and Telescope Array, as well as from IceCube, Super-Kamiokande, CTA and HAWC, and space-borne experiments such as AMS-02, Fermi and CALET.

Participants discussed how many open questions in high-energy astroparticle physics are related to our understanding of cosmic-ray interactions from the multi-messenger point of view; for example, the relevance of production and propagation of positrons or antimatter for indirect dark-matter searches, or of atmospheric-neutrino production for neutrino oscillations or neutrino astronomy.

Showcasing several models of high-energy cosmic-ray interactions, and their verification by accelerator measurements, was also a highlight of the symposium. The event offered a unique opportunity for developers of major cosmic-ray interaction models to gather and engage in valuable discussions. Other highlights were the talks about accelerator data relevant to cosmic-ray observations, reported by the teams behind CERN’s large LHC experiments as well as smaller fixed-target experiments such as NA61. Emphasis was put on forward measurements by ATLAS, CMS, LHCb and LHCf, including first results from the SMOG gas-jet target measurements of LHCb (see “Fixed-target physics in collider mode at LHCb“).

A public lecture, “Exploring the Invisible Universe” by Nobel Laureate Takaaki Kajita, attracted more than 250 participants, which was complemented by a tour of the nuclear emulsion lab of Nagoya University to see state-of-the-art emulsion technology. The progress in this technology was clearly visible when Edison Shibuya and others recalled the early days of studying cosmic rays with emulsion chambers and Saavedra’s related pioneering contributions.

There were many discussions on future studies of relevance to cosmic-ray interactions and astroparticle physics. Hans Dembinski discussed prospects in the near and far future in collider experiments, including possible proton–oxygen runs at the LHC and a study of multi-particle production at a future circular collider. The cosmic-ray community is very enthusiastic about a future proton–oxygen run since, even with a short run of 100 million events, charged particle and pion spectra could be measured to an accuracy of 10% – a five-fold improvement over current model uncertainties that would bring us a crucial step closer to unveiling the cosmic accelerators of the highest energy particles in the universe.

The next ISVHECRI will be held in June 2020 at Ooty, the location of the RAPES air-shower experiment in India.

  • Yoshitaka Itow, Nagoya University, and Ralph Engel (KIT, Karlsruhe).


Higgs hunters meet up in Orsay and Paris

Higgs hunters

The 9th Higgs Hunting workshop took place in Orsay and Paris on 23–25 July, attracting 120 physicists for lively discussions about recent results in the Higgs sector. The ATLAS and CMS collaborations presented results based on up to 80 fb–1 of data recorded at an energy of 13 TeV, which corresponds to almost all the data that has been taken so far at the LHC. The statistical uncertainty on some measured properties of the Higgs boson, such as the production cross-section, is now almost three times smaller with the 13 TeV data than it was after LHC Run 1 at energies of 7 and 8 TeV, and in several cases the overall uncertainty is reaching a point at which the systematic uncertainty becomes dominant.

Several searches for phenomena beyond the Standard Model, in particular for additional Higgs bosons, were presented. No significant excess above background expectations was reported. The historical talk was given by Lyn Evans, who served as the project leader of the LHC. The last day of the event was devoted to the physics potential of the High Luminosity LHC and possible future colliders, in view of the upcoming update of the European strategy for particle physics. The last session was chaired by Halina Abramowicz, the strategy secretary for the update.

The next Higgs Hunting workshop will be in Orsay and/or Paris from 29 to 31 July 2019.

  • Louis Fayard, Laboratoire de l’Accélérateur Linéaire.


Göttingen hosts HASCO summer school

HASCO 2018 students

This year’s Hadron Collider Physics Summer School (HASCO 2018) took place on 22–27 July in Göttingen, Germany, marking the seventh consecutive year that this dynamic and international school, primarily aimed at master’s students, has been offered.

This year, 40 undergraduate students from 18 different institutes in 12 countries came together for a week to learn about hadron-collider physics. The nine lecturers also came from a variety of institutes throughout the world. The students learnt about the foundations of quantum field theory and hadron-collider physics, particularly in the context the Large Hadron Collider (LHC).

At the HASCO school, numerous research topics are discussed, among them quantum chromodynamics, jet physics, statistical methods in data analysis, accelerator physics, detector physics, top-quark physics and searches for supersymmetry or exotic models and particles. The focus was on the physics of the Higgs boson and the new opportunities that come with the high-statistics data sample being recorded during the LHC’s 13 TeV run.

Almost all participating students passed the written examination at the end of the school and received three European Credit Transfer System points, for which they can obtain course credits at their home universities.

  • Stan Lai and Arnulf Quadt, University of Göttingen.


Research infrastructures event brings particle physics into focus

Photography exhibition

The 4th International Conference on Research Infrastructures (ICRI 2018), held in Vienna on 12–14 September, offered a forum for discussions about international cooperation for research infrastructures (RIs), with participants from more than 50 countries taking part. During an intense programme, participants drafted a roadmap to inform Europe’s policy and investment in RIs, with CERN’s director for international relations, Charlotte Warakaulle, offering a glimpse of the organisation’s plans and ongoing R&D for future colliders and detectors. The new ESFRI 2018 roadmap was presented, including a “landmark” portfolio of 37 long-term engagements in all fields of science and 18 projects.

During the event, a new exhibition “CODE of the Universe” also made its first international stop. The exhibition (pictured) addresses open questions in physics and the role of particle accelerators both in fundamental research and as concrete applications. It is organised by CERN, the Institute of High Energy Physics (HEPHY), the Natural History Museum of Vienna and publisher Edition Lammerhuber. A public event was hosted on the evening of the same day, bringing together scientists, entrepreneurs and politicians to discuss: “Research: Why does it matter to me?” Participants included former CERN Director-General Rolf Heuer and George Bednorz, who shared the 1987 Nobel Prize in Physics for the discovery of high-temperature superconductivity.

  • Panos Charitos, CERN.


CERN is guest of honour at Swiss National Day

Swiss National Day

On 1 August, CERN was the City of Geneva’s guest of honour at the Swiss National Day celebrations. Many thousands of visitors had the opportunity to learn about the laboratory’s activities via workshops, virtual-reality tours, physics demonstrations, educational games and a new “Particle Identities” quiz. Participants also visited the CERN Data Centre via virtual-reality headsets.


Packed house for CHEP public event

Audience Q&A

A large and enthusiastic crowd attended “Universal Science,” a public event preceding the International Conference on Computing for High Energy and Nuclear Physics (CHEP), in Sofia, Bulgaria, on 8 July. With the three-part theme of research, computing and diversity, tickets for the event sold out well before deadline, and overflow had to be accommodated through online participation.

Such an outreach event is not typical for CHEP, a conference that focuses on specialised topics such as distributed computing, event reconstruction, data handling and virtualisation. This year’s organising committee, however, saw it as an opportunity to reach out to the local public and to foster open discussion on the impact of particle-physics research on society. Similar events have grown in popularity at other major conferences, such as ICHEP, EPS and LHCP, and the particle-physics-computing community has become increasingly engaged in public outreach.

Hands-on exhibits, including interactive virtual-reality displays, entertained and informed the audience. Andreas Salzburger, a physicist on the ATLAS experiment, kicked off the evening with a short talk on the motivation for and history of particle physics. This was followed by talks on diversity by Lee Bitsoi of Stony Brook University and on the growth of distributed computing by CERN computer engineer Hannah Short. Talks were followed by a panel discussion generating a barrage of questions from both the local audience and those connecting via Facebook Live. The event was organised by CHEP, Ratio, IPPOG, Brookhaven National Lab, ATLAS and Belle II.

  • Steven Goldfarb, University of Melbourne.