Faces and Places

Dyson and Rubakov share the Pomeranchuk Prize for 2003

Freeman Dyson, from the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, and Valery Rubakov, from the Institute for Nuclear Research (INR) in Moscow, have been awarded the Pomeranchuk Prize for 2003, which is administered by Moscow’s Institute for Theoretical and Experimental Physics (ITEP).

Dyson, who is one of the founders of modern quantum electrodynamics (QED), receives the prize for outstanding contributions to quantum field theory. With the publication in 1949 of his papers on QED, there was at last a general and systematic formalism physicists could easily learn to use, and which provided a common language for the subsequent applications of quantum field theory to problems in physics. The famous Schwinger-Dyson equations are still used to solve many problems in quantum field theory, not only in QED. Nowadays, Dyson is working on ecological problems, in particular the issue of global warming.

Rubakov, who receives the prize for the theoretical analysis of the baryonic asymmetry of the universe at the electroweak scale, is one of the best known Russian theorists. His popular papers include those on monopole catalysis and, together with Vladimir Kuzmin and Mikhael Shaposhnikov, on the effect of electroweak non-conservation of baryon and lepton numbers at high temperatures, currently a cornerstone of modern astroparticle physics. Recently, Rubakov has been working on the brane world; indeed, he and Shaposhnikov suggested the possibility that we are living on a brane as early as 1983. These ideas have been greatly boosted by recent developments.

Indian awards for the physics of plasmas

The Indian Physics Association has named the recipients of its prestigious R D Birla Memorial Award for 2002; they are Predhiman Kaw of the Institute of Plasma Research, Ahmedabad, and Bikash Sinha of the Saha Institute of Nuclear Physics and Variable Energy Cyclotron Centre, Kolkata. The R D Birla Award is given biennially for excellence in pure physics, and previous winners have included Nobel laureates Abdus Salam and Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar.

Sinha receives the award for his sustained and outstanding contribution to the field of quark-gluon plasma (QGP) physics, proposing signals for QGP that are now used as an essential part of the experimental set up for the nucleus-nucleus programme at the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider at Brookhaven and for the future Large Hadron Collider at CERN. He has also contributed significantly to the consequences of the density inhomogeneity created in the early universe due to a possible first-order phase transition from QGP to hadrons. In addition, Sinha has been responsible for establishing an internationally recognized school of QGP physicists in India, which carries out experiments in relativistic heavy-ion collisions at CERN and Brookhaven.

Kaw, an internationally acclaimed plasma physicist, has made several pioneering contributions to the physics of nonlinear collective phenomena in plasmas and magnetically confined fusion plasmas. These contributions include the laser-plasma interaction, thermonuclear fusion and astrophysical dusty plasmas. He has also been mainly responsible for starting a major programme in plasma research and thermonuclear fusion at the Institute for Plasma Research in India.

Young physicist wins Gustav Hertz Prize

Klaus Blaum, of GSI Darmstadt and the project leader of the ISOLTRAP experiment at CERN, has been awarded the Gustav Hertz Prize for 2004 for his outstanding work on the mass determination of unstable atomic nuclei. This is the highest award given by the German Physical Society to a young physicist without a professorship. Blaum extended the measuring capability of the ISOLTRAP experiment at CERN’s ISOLDE facility by installing a source of carbon clusters. These provide the reference of choice for precision mass spectrometry, since the atomic mass standard is based on the mass of 12C. Using carbon clusters as mass references in this way allows ISOLTRAP to make higher precision and absolute atomic mass measurements on short-lived isotopes.

New Year knighthood for Tim Berners-Lee

Tim Berners-Lee has been awarded his country’s highest honour – a knighthood – in the UK’s New Year’s Honours List for his work, while at CERN, on the “World Wide Web”. The idea for the Web goes back to March 1989 when Berners-Lee wrote a proposal for a “Distributed Information Management System” for the high-energy physics community. By Christmas 1990 this had become the World Wide Web, with its first servers and browsers running at CERN. On 30 April 1993 CERN issued a statement declaring that the software was in the public domain, thus opening the floodgates to Web development around the world.

In the same honours list Roger Cashmore has been made a Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George (CMG) “for his services to international co-operation in particle physics”. Cashmore was CERN’s director for collider programmes between 1999 and 2003, and is now principal of Brasenose College, Oxford. Chris Damerell of the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory has also received the Order of the British Empire (OBE) for services to particle physics.

DESY holds colloquium for Schmidt-Parzefall

On 27 November 2003 the Faculty of Physics at Hamburg University and the DESY laboratory held a special colloquium – a “Festkolloquium” – in honour of Walter Schmidt-Parzefall, who retired on 31 March. After studying in Göttingen and Karlsruhe, Schmidt-Parzefall joined the group of Klaus Winter at CERN in 1970, where he was involved in experiments at the Intersecting Storage Rings and in the preparation of the CHARM neutrino experiment. He then went to DESY in 1977 to work at the DORIS electron-positron collider, where as spokesperson of DASP (between 1977 and 1980) and ARGUS (between 1978 and 1990) he played a decisive role in both experiments, contributing to the outstanding scientific results of the ARGUS collaboration. He became professor at the University of Hamburg in 1990, and was elected director of the 2nd Institute of Experimental Physics one year later. Schmidt-Parzefall is seen in the picture with Michael Danilov of the Moscow Institute for Theoretical and Experimental Physics. Danilov reviewed “20 Years with ARGUS” for the approximately 300 participants at the Festkolloquium.

J C Sens celebrates his 75th birthday

One of the pioneers of the first muon g-2 experiments at CERN, “Hans” (J C) Sens, celebrated his 75th birthday on 30 November 2003. Sens, who gained his PhD working on muons with Valentin Telegdi at the University of Chicago, came to CERN in 1958 at the same time as Leon Lederman, and together they initiated a study of the methods for measuring the muon g-2. In 1966, after working on various experiments with muons, Sens left CERN to join the Foundation for Fundamental Research on Matter in the Netherlands and the University of Utrecht. With the advent of the Intersecting Storage Rings (ISR) at CERN, he became spokesman of the CERN-Holland-Lancaster-Manchester collaboration at the ISR.

In 1976, while on leave of absence in the US, Sens joined Lederman’s experiment that discovered the upsilon particle and hence the fifth quark, “bottom” or “beauty”. He later spent seven years at SLAC (between 1979 and 1986) working with fellow Dutch collaborators on electron-positron and photon-photon collisions at the PEP collider. Sens then returned to particle physics at CERN, and worked on the development of the analysis programs for the L3 experiment at the Large Electron Positron collider. He retired in 1993, but has since spent time as a visiting scientist at the Academica Sinica and the National Central University of Taiwan, and is now at the Institut Non-Linéaire de Nice.