New management at linear collider
Shinichiro Michizono from KEK has been appointed as associate director for the International Linear Collider (ILC), taking over from Mike Harrison, while Jim Brau of the University of Oregon has replaced Hitoshi Yamamoto as associate director for physics and detectors. The Linear Collider collaboration, which encompasses the ILC and CLIC, has recently been granted a further three-year mandate by the International Committee for Future Accelerators.
ESO appoints astronomer Barcons as new director general
The council of the European Southern Observatory (ESO), which builds and operates some of the world’s most powerful ground-based telescopes, has appointed Xavier Barcons as its next director general. The 57 year-old astronomer will take up his new position on 1 September 2017, when the current director general Tim de Zeeuw completes his mandate. He began his career as a physicist, completing a PhD on hot plasmas.
Next theory leader for Jefferson Lab
In October 2016, Jianwei Qiu joined the Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility as its new associate director for theoretical and computational physics. Qiu, whose research focus is QCD and its applications in both high-energy particle and nuclear physics, will oversee a broad programme of theoretical research in support of the physics studied with the Continuous Electron Beam Accelerator Facility (CEBAF).
LHC operations changes hands
Rende Steerenberg has been appointed head of operations in CERN’s Beams Department, effective from 1 January 2017. He takes over from Mike Lamont, who has been in the role since 2009 and oversaw operations from the LHC’s rollercoaster start-up to its latest record performance. Lamont remains deputy group leader of the Beams Department.
Heuer given highest French honour
Former CERN Director-General Rolf-Dieter Heuer has been appointed Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur (Knight of the Legion of Honour), one of the highest recognitions of achievement in France. Heuer, who is currently president of the German Physical Society (DPG) and president-elect of the SESAME Council, among other roles, was presented with the medal on 22 November at the residence of the French permanent representative in Geneva.
String theorists snare Breakthrough Prize
The 2017 Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics has been awarded to Joseph Polchinski, University of California at Santa Barbara, and Andrew Strominger and Cumrun Vafa of Harvard University. The three winners, who received the $3 million award at a glitzy ceremony in San Francisco on 4 December, have made important contributions to fundamental physics including quantum gravity and string theory. Polchinski was recognised in particular for his discovery of D-branes, while the citation for Strominger and Vafa included their derivation of the Bekenstein–Hawking area-entropy relation, which unified the laws of thermodynamics and black-hole dynamics.
Recipients of the previously announced Special Prize in Fundamental Physics – Ronald Drever and Kip Thorne of Caltech and Rainer Weiss of MIT, who were recognised in May along with the entire LIGO team for the discovery of gravitational waves – were also present. A further prize, the $100,000 New Horizons in Physics Prize, went to six early-career physicists: Asimina Arvanitaki (Perimeter Institute), Peter Graham (Stanford University) and Surjeet Rajendran (University of California, Berkeley); Simone Giombi (Princeton University) and Xi Yin (Harvard University); and Frans Pretorius (Princeton).
This year’s Breakthrough Prize, which was founded in 2012 by Sergey Brin, Anne Wojcicki, Yuri and Julia Milner, Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan, saw $25 million in prizes awarded for achievements in the life sciences, fundamental physics and mathematics.
Humboldt award for Brookhaven physicist
On 30 November, the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation in Bonn, Germany, granted a Humboldt Research Award to Raju Venugopalan, a senior physicist at Brookhaven National Laboratory and Stony Brook University. The €60,000 award recognises Venugopalan’s achievements in theoretical nuclear physics, and comes with the opportunity to collaborate with German researchers at Heidelberg University and elsewhere.
Atomic pioneer wins presidential medal
US physicist and science policy adviser to the US government, Richard Garwin, was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom at a White House ceremony on 22 November. The award is the highest honour that the US government can confer to civilians. Garwin was recognised for his long career in research and invention, which saw him play a leading role in the development of the hydrogen bomb, and for his advice to policy makers.
Introducing Garwin, President Obama remarked: “Dick’s not only an architect of the atomic age. Reconnaissance satellites, the MRI, GPS technology, the touchscreen all bear his fingerprints – he even patented a mussel washer for shellfish. Dick has advised nearly every president since Eisenhower, often rather bluntly. Enrico Fermi, also a pretty smart guy, is said to have called Dick the only true genius he ever met.”
Neutrino physicist takes up Pascal Chair
Fumihiko Suekane of Tohoku University, Japan, has been awarded a 2016 Blaise Pascal Chair to further his research into neutrinos. Established in 1996, and named after the 17th-century French polymath Blaise Pascal, the €200,000 grant allows researchers from abroad to work on a scientific project in an institution in the Ile-de-France region. Suekane will spend a year working at the Astroparticle and Cosmology Laboratory in Paris, where he will focus on R&D for novel neutrino detectors and measurements of reactor neutrinos.
Russian Academy of Sciences elects theorists as latest new members
In late 2016, theorists Mikhail Danilov, from the Lebedev Institute in Moscow, Sergio Ferrara from CERN and David Gross from the Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics and the University of California in Santa Barbara were elected as members of the Russian Academy of Sciences. Established in 1724, the body has more than 2000 members.
President of the Republic of Poland,
Andrzej Duda, visited CERN on 15 November and toured the CERN Control Centre.
Chi-Chang Kao, signed the guestbook with CERN Director-General Fabiola Gianotti on 23 November.
Triangulating in Mumbai
From 28 November to 2 December, more than 200 flavour physicists gathered at the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research in Mumbai for the 9th International Workshop on the Cabibbo–Kobayashi–Maskawa Unitarity Triangle (CKM2016). The workshop focuses on weak transitions of quarks from one flavour to another, as described by the CKM matrix, and on the charge–parity (CP) violation present in these transitions, as visualised by the unitarity triangle (UT). Input from theory, particularly lattice QCD, is vital to fully leverage the power of such measurements.
It is an exciting time for flavour physics. The mass scales potentially involved in such weak processes are much higher than those that can be directly probed at the LHC, due to the presence of quantum loops that mediate many of the processes of interest, such as B0(s) – B0(s) mixing. Compared with the absence of new particles so far at the energy frontier, LHCb and other B factories already have significant hints of deviations between measurements and Standard Model (SM) predictions.
An example is the persistent discrepancy in the measured differential distributions of the decay products of the rare flavour-changing neutral-current process B0 → K*0 μ+ μ–, first reported by the LHCb collaboration in 2015. A highlight of CKM2016 was the presentation of first results of the same distributions from the Belle experiment in Japan, which also included the related but previously unmeasured process B0 → K*0 e+ e–. The Belle results are more compatible with those of LHCb than the SM, further supporting the idea that new physics may be manifesting itself, via interference effects, in these observables. Progress on measuring CP violation in B decays was also reported, with LHCb presenting the first evidence for time-dependent CP violation in the decay of B0s mesons in two separate final states, D+s K– and K+ K–. The latter involves loop diagrams allowing a new-physics-sensitive determination of a UT angle (γ) that can be compared to a tree-level SM determination in the decay B– → D0 K–.
For the first time, LHCb also presented results with data from LHC Run 2, which is ultimately expected to increase the size of the LHCb data samples by approximately a factor four. Longer term, the Belle II experiment based at the SuperKEKB collider recently enjoyed its first beam, and will begin its full physics programme in 2018. By 2024, Belle II should have collected 50 times more data than Belle, allowing unprecedented tests of rare B-meson decays and precision CP-violation measurements. On the same timescale, the LHCb upgrade will also be in full swing, with the goal of increasing the data size by least a factor 10 compared to Run 1 and Run 2. Plans for a second LHCb upgrade presented at the meeting would allow LHCb, given the long-term future of the LHC, to run at much higher instantaneous luminosities to yield an enormous data set by 2035.
With more data the puzzles of flavour physics will be resolved thanks to the ongoing programme of LHCb, imminent results from rare-kaon-decay experiments (KOTO and NA62), and the Belle II/LHCb upgrade projects. No doubt there will be more revealing results by the time of the next CKM workshop, to be held in Heidelberg in September 2018.
PSI event probes the low-energy frontier
While there are many conferences focusing on physics at the high-energy frontier, the triennial PSI workshop at the Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI) in Switzerland concerns searches for new phenomena at non-collider experiments. These are complementary to direct searches at the LHC and often cover a parameter space that is beyond the reach of the LHC or even future colliders.
The fourth workshop in this series, PSI2016, took place from 16–21 October and attracted more than 170 physicists. Theoretical overviews covered: precision QED calculations; beyond-the-Standard-Model implications of electric-dipole-moment (EDM) searches; axions and other light exotic particles; flavour symmetries; the muon g-2 problem; NLO calculations of the rare muon decay μ → eeeνν; and possible models to explain the exciting flavour anomalies presently seen in B decays. On the experimental side, several new results were presented.
Fundamental neutron physics featured prominently, ranging from cold-neutron-beam experiments to those with stored ultracold neutrons at facilities such as ILL, PSI, LANL, TRIUMF and Mainz. Key experiments are measurements of the neutron lifetime, searches for a permanent EDM, measurements of beta-decay correlations and searches for exotic interactions. The future European Spallation Source in Sweden will also allow a new and much improved search for neutron–antineutron oscillations. Atomic physics and related methods offer unprecedented sensitivity to fundamental-physics aspects ranging from QED tests, parity violation in weak interactions, EDM and exotic physics to dark-matter (DM) and dark-energy searches. With the absence of signals from direct DM searches so far, light and ultralight DM is a focus of several upcoming experiments. Atomic physics also comprises precision spectroscopy of exotic atoms, and several highlight talks included the ongoing efforts at CERN’s Antiproton Decelerator with antihydrogen and with light muonic atoms at J-PARC and at PSI. For antiprotons and nuclei, impressive results from recent Penning-trap mass and g-factor measurements were presented with impacts on CPT tests, bound-state QED tests and more.
Major international efforts are under way at PSI (μ → eγ, μ → eee), FNAL and J-PARC (μ → e conversion) devoted to muons and their lepton-flavour violating decays, and the upcoming muon g-2 experiments at FNAL and J-PARC have reported impressive progress. Last but not least, rare kaon decays (at CERN and J-PARC), new long-baseline neutrino oscillation results, developments towards direct neutrino-mass measurements, and CP and CPT tests with B mesons were reported. The field of low-energy precision physics has grown fast over the past few years, and participants plan to meet again at PSI in 2019.
Nanotechnology meets HEP in Darmstadt
The fields of nanomaterials and nanotechnology are quickly evolving, with discoveries frequently reported across a wide range of applications including nanoelectronics, sensor technologies, drug delivery and robotics, in addition to the energy and healthcare sectors.
At an academia–industry event on 20–21 October at GSI in Darmstadt, Germany, co-organised by the technology-transfer network HEPTech, delegates explored novel connections between nanotechnology and high-energy physics (HEP).
The forum included an overview of the recent experiments at DESY’s hard X-ray source PETRA III, which allows the investigation of physical and chemical processes in situ and under working conditions and serves a large user community in many fields including nanotechnology. Thermal-scanning probe lithography, an increasingly reliable method for rapid and low-cost prototyping of 2D and quasi-3D structures, was also discussed. Much attention was paid to the production and application of nanostructures, where the achievements of the Ion Beam Center at Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf in surface nanostructuring and nanopatterning were introduced.
UK firm Hardide Coatings Ltd presented its advanced surface-coating technology, the core of which are nano-structured tungsten-carbide-based coatings that have promising applications in HEP and vacuum engineering. Industry also presented ion-track technology, which is being used to synthesise 3D interconnected nanowire networks in micro-batteries or gas sensors, among other applications. Neutron-research infrastructures and large-scale synchrotrons are emerging as highly suitable platforms for the advanced characterisation of micro- and nano-electronic devices, and the audience heard the latest developments from the IRT Nanoelec Platform for Advanced Characterisation of Grenoble.
The meeting addressed how collaboration between academia and industry in the nanotechnology arena can best serve the needs of HEP, with CERN presenting applications in gaseous detectors using the charge-transfer properties of graphene. The technology-transfer office at DESY also shared its experience in developing a marketing strategy for promoting the services of the DESY NanoLab to companies. Both academia and industry representatives left the event with a set of contacts and collaboration arrangements.
Super future for medical accelerators
On 24–25 November, academics and leading companies in the field of superconductivity met in Madrid, Spain, to explore the technical challenges of applying new accelerator technology to medicine. Organised by CIEMAT in collaboration with HEPTech, EUCARD2, CDTI, GSI and the Enterprise Europe Network, the event brought together 120 participants from 19 countries to focus on radioisotope production, particle therapy and gantries.
Superconductivity has a range of applications in energy, medicine, fusion and high-energy physics (HEP). The latter are illustrated by CERN’s high-luminosity LHC (HL-LHC), now near construction with superconducting magnets made from advanced Nb3Sn technology capable of 12 T fields. The HL-LHC demands greatly advanced superconducting cavities with more efficient and higher-gradient RF systems, plus the development of new devices such as crab cavities that can deflect or rotate single bunches of protons.
On the industry side, new superconducting technology is ready to go into production for medical applications. A dedicated session presented novel developments in cyclotron production, illustrated by the AMIT project of CIEMAT (based on a cyclotron with a compact superconducting design that will be able to produce low-to-moderate rates of dose-on-demand 11C and 18F) and the French industry–academia LOTUS project system, which features a compact 12 MeV superconducting helium-free magnet cyclotron suitable for the production of these isotopes in addition to 68Ga. Antaya Science and Technology, meanwhile, reported on the development of a portable high-field superconducting cyclotron for the production of ammonia-13N in near proximity to the PET cameras. The meeting also heard from MEDICIS, the new facility under construction at CERN that will extend the capabilities of the ISOLDE radioactive ion-beam facility for production of radiopharmaceuticals and develop new accelerator technologies for medical applications (CERN Courier October 2016 p28).
Concerning particle therapy, industry presented medical accelerators such as the MEVION S250 – a proton-therapy system based on a gantry-mounted 250 MeV superconducting synchrocyclotron that weighs less than 15 tonnes and generates magnetic fields in excess of 10 T. Global medical-technology company IBA described its two main superconducting cyclotrons for particle therapy: the Cyclone 400 for proton/carbon therapy and the S2C2 dedicated to proton therapy, with a particular emphasis on their superconducting coil systems. IBA also introduced the latest developments concerning ProteusONE – a single-room system that delivers the most clinically advanced form of proton-radiation therapy. Researchers from MIT in the US presented a novel compact superconducting synchrocyclotron based on an ironless magnet with a much reduced weight, while the TERA Foundation in Italy is developing superconducting technology for “cyclinacs” – accelerators that combine a cyclotron injector and a linac booster.
Finally, the session on gantries covered developments such as a superconducting bending-magnet section for future compact isocentric gantries by researchers at the Paul Scherrer Institute, and a superconducting rotating gantry for carbon radiotherapy designed by the Japanese National Institute of Radiological Sciences. With demand for medical isotopes and advanced cancer therapy rising, we can look forward to rich collaborations between accelerator physics and the medical community in the coming years.
Higgs Couplings 2016
The fifth in the series of Higgs Couplings workshops, which began just after the Higgs-boson discovery in 2012 to bring together theorists and experimentalists, was held at SLAC on 9–12 November and drew 148 participants from five continents.
Discussions focused on lessons from the current round of LHC analyses that could be applied to future data. Modelling of signal and background is already limiting for some measurements, and new theoretical results and strategies were presented. Other key issues were the use of vector-boson fusion production as a tool, and the power and complementarity of diverse searches for heavy Higgs bosons.
Two new themes emerged at the meeting. The first was the possibility of exotic decays of the 125 GeV Higgs boson. These include not only Higgs decays to invisible particles but also decays to lighter Higgs particles, light quarks and leptons (possibly with flavour violation) and new, long-lived particles. A number of searches from ATLAS and CMS reported their first results. The workshop also debated the application of effective field theory as a framework for parametrising precise Higgs measurements.
The 6th Higgs Couplings meeting will be held in Heidelberg on 6–10 November 2017. We look forward to new ideas for the creative use of the large data samples of Higgs bosons that will become available as the LHC programme continues.
Hard probe for QCD matter
The 8th International Conference on Hard and Electromagnetic Probes of High-energy Nuclear Collisions (Hard Probes 2016) was held in Wuhan, China, on 23–27 September. Hard and electromagnetic probes are powerful tools for the study of the novel properties of hot and dense QCD matter created in high-energy nucleus–nucleus collisions, and have provided much important evidence for the formation of quark–gluon plasma (QGP) in heavy-ion collisions at RHIC and the LHC.
Hard Probe 2016 attracted close to 300 participants from 28 countries. The main topics discussed were: jet production and modification in QCD matter; high transverse-momentum hadron spectra and correlations; jet-induced medium excitations; jet properties in small systems; heavy flavour hadrons and quarkonia; photons and dileptons and initial states and related topics. The most recent experimental progress on hard and electromagnetic probes from the ALICE, ATLAS, CMS, LHCb, PHENIX and STAR collaborations, together with many new exciting theoretical and phenomenological developments, were discussed. The next Hard Probe conference will be held in Aix Les Bains, France, in 2018.
Exotic nuclei and super-heavy elements
The International Symposium on EXOtic Nuclei (EXON-2016), took place from 5–9 September in Kazan, Russia, attracting around 170 nuclear experts from 20 countries. The scientific programme focused on recent experiments on the synthesis and study of new super-heavy elements, the discovery of which demonstrates the efficiency of international co-operation.
Interesting results were obtained in joint experiments on chemical identification of elements 112 and 114 performed at JINR (Russia), the GSI (Germany) and the Paul Scherrer Institute (Switzerland). A vivid example of co-operation with US scientists is an experiment on the synthesis of element 117 held at the cyclotron of JINR. Recently, the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry approved the discovery of the new elements with atomic numbers 113 (“nihonian”), 115 (“moscovium”), 117 (“tennessine”) and 118 (“oganesson”).
Five laboratories, which are the co-founders of the symposium, are now creating a new generation of accelerators for the synthesis and study of new exotic nuclei. Projects such as SPIRAL2, RIKEN RI Beam Factory, FAIR, DRIBs, NICA and FRIB will allow us to delve further into the upper limits of the periodic table.
Introduction to accelerator physics
The CERN Accelerator School (CAS) and the Wigner Research Centre for Physics jointly organised an introduction-to-accelerator-physics course in Budapest, Hungary, from 2–14 October, attended by more than 120 participants spanning 28 nationalities. This year, CAS will organise a specialised course on beam injection, extraction and transfer (to be held in Erice, Sicily, from 10–19 March) and a second specialised course on vacuum for particle accelerators (near Lund, Sweden, from 6–16 June). The next course on advanced-accelerator physics will be held in the UK in early September, and a Joint International Accelerator School on RF technology will be held in Hayama, Japan, from 16–26 October (www.cern.ch/schools/CAS).