Faces & Places

• Tim Berners-Lee receives Turing Award • ICTP Dirac medallists 2016 • Guido Altarelli Award 2017 • Prizes galore for IceCube members • Firms to begin prototyping the science cloud • Beam gymnastics in Sicily • Testing gravity in Vancouver • Visits

Tim Berners-Lee receives Turing Award

On 4 April, CERN alumnus Tim Berners-Lee received the 2016 A M Turing Award for his invention of the World Wide Web, the first web browser, and the fundamental protocols and algorithms allowing the web to scale. Named in honour of British mathematician and computer scientist Alan Turing, and often referred to as the Nobel prize of computing, the annual award of $1 million is given by the Association for Computing Machinery. In 1989, while working at CERN, Berners-Lee wrote a proposal for a new information-management system for the laboratory, and by the end of the following year he had invented one of the most influential computing innovations in history – the World Wide Web. Berners-Lee is now a professor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of Oxford, and director of the World Wide Web Consortium and the World Wide Web Foundation.

ICTP Dirac medallists 2016

The International Centre for Theoretical Physics 2016 Dirac Medal has been awarded to Nathan Seiberg of the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, and Mikhail Shifman and Arkady Vainshtein of the University of Minnesota. The award recognises the trio’s important contributions to field theories in the non-perturbative regime and in particular for exact results obtained in supersymmetric field theories.

Guido Altarelli Award 2017

The second edition of the Guido Altarelli Award, given to young scientists in the field of deep inelastic scattering and related subjects, was awarded to two researchers during the 2017 Deep Inelastic Scattering workshop held in Birmingham, UK, on 3 April. Maria Ubiali of Cambridge University in the UK was recognised for her theoretical contributions in the field of proton parton density functions, and in particular for her seminal contributions to the understanding of heavy-quark dynamics. Experimentalist Paolo Gunnellini of DESY, who is a member of the CMS collaboration, received the award for his innovative ideas in the study of double parton scattering and in Monte Carlo tuning.

Prizes galore for IceCube members

Four members of the IceCube neutrino observatory, based at the South Pole, have independently won awards recognising their contributions to the field. Aya Ishihara of Chiba University in Japan was awarded the 37th annual Saruhashi Prize, given each year to a female scientist under the age of 50 for exceptional research accomplishments. This year’s prize, presented in Tokyo on 27 May, cites Ishihara’s contributions to high-energy astronomy with the IceCube detector.

Fellow IceCube collaborator Subir Sarkar of the University of Oxford, UK, and the Niels Bohr Institute in Denmark has won the 4th Homi Bhabha prize. Awarded since 2010 by the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR) in India and the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics, the prize recognises an active scientist who has made distinguished contributions in the field of high-energy cosmic-ray and astroparticle physics over an extended academic career. Sarkar has also worked on the Pierre Auger Observatory and is a member of the Cherenkov Telescope Array collaboration.

Meanwhile, former IceCube spokesperson Christian Spiering from DESY has won the O’Ceallaigh Medal for astroparticle physics, awarded every second year by the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies. Spiering, who led the collaboration from 2005 to 2007 and also played a key role in the Lake Baikal Neutrino Telescope, was honoured “for his outstanding contributions to cosmic-ray physics and to the newly emerging field of neutrino astronomy in particular”. Both he and Sarkar will receive their awards at the 35th International Cosmic Ray Conference in Busan, South Korea, on 13 July.

Finally, IceCube member Ben Jones of the University of Texas at Arlington has won the APS 2017 Mitsuyoshi Tanaka Dissertation Award in Experimental Particle Physics, for his thesis “Sterile Neutrinos in Cold Climates.

Firms to begin prototyping the science cloud

An awards ceremony took place at CERN on 3 April recognising companies that have won contracts to start building the prototype phase of the Helix Nebula Science Cloud (HNSciCloud). Initiated by CERN in 2016, HNSciCloud is a €5.3 million pre-commercial procurement tender driven by 10 leading research organisations and funded by the European Commission. Its aim is to establish a European cloud platform to support high-performance computing and big-data capabilities for scientific research. The April event marked the official beginning of the prototype phase, which covers the procurement of R&D services for the design, prototype development and pilot use of innovative cloud services. The three winning consortia are: T-Systems, Huawei, Cyfronet and Divia; IBM; and RHEA Group, T-Systems, Exoscale and SixSq. Each presented its plans to build the HNSciCloud prototype and the first deliverables are expected by the end of the year, after which two consortia will proceed to the pilot phase in 2018.

Beam gymnastics in Sicily

The CERN Accelerator School (CAS) organised a specialised course devoted to beam injection, extraction and transfer in Erice, Sicily, from 10 to 19 March. The course was held in the Ettore Majorana Foundation and Centre, and was attended by 72 participants from 25 countries including China, Iran, Russia and the US.

The intensive programme comprised 32 lectures and two seminars, with 10 hours of case studies allowing students to apply their knowledge to real problems. Following introductory talks on electromagnetism, relativity and the basics of beam dynamics, different injection and extraction schemes were presented. Detailed lectures about the special magnetic and electrostatic elements for the case of lepton and hadron beams followed. State-of-the-art kicker and septa designs were discussed, as were issues related to stripping-injection and resonant extraction as used in medical settings. An overview of optics measurements in storage rings and non-periodic structures completed the programme, with talks about the production of secondary and radioactive beams and exotic injection methods.

The next CAS course, focusing on advanced accelerator physics, will take place at Royal Holloway University in the UK from 3–15 September. Later in the year, CAS is participating in a joint venture in collaboration with the accelerator schools of the US, Japan and Russia. This school is devoted to RF technologies and will be held in Japan from 16–26 October. Looking further ahead, schools are currently planned in 2018 on accelerator physics at the introductory level, on future colliders and on beam instrumentation and diagnostics. See https://www.cern.ch/schools/CAS.

Testing gravity in Vancouver

Around 100 participants from 15 countries attended the 2017 Testing Gravity Conference at the Simon Fraser University, Harbour Centre, in Vancouver, Canada, on 25 to 28 January. The conference, the second such meeting following the success of the 2015 event, brought together experts exploring new ways to test general relativity (GR).

GR, and its Newtonian limit, work very well in most circumstances. But gaps in our understanding appear when the theory is applied to extremely small distances, where quantum mechanics reigns, or extremely large distances, when we try to describe the universe. Advancing technologies across all areas of physics open up opportunities for testing gravity in new ways, thus helping to fill these gaps.

The conference brought together renowned cosmologists, astrophysicists, and atomic, nuclear and particle physicists to share their specific approaches to test GR and to explore ways to address long-standing mysteries, such as the unexplained nature of dark matter and dark energy. Among the actively discussed topics were the breakthrough discovery in February 2016 of gravitational waves by the LIGO observatory, which has opened up exciting opportunities for testing GR in detail (CERN Courier January/February 2017 p34), and the growing interest in gravity tests among the CERN physics community – specifically regarding attempting to measure the gravitational force on antihydrogen with three experiments at CERNs Antiproton Decelerator (CERN Courier January/February 2017 p39).

Among other highlights there were fascinating talks from pioneers in their fields, including cosmologist Misao Sasaki, one of the fathers of inflationary theory; Eric Adelberger, a leader in gravity tests at short distances; and Frans Pretorius, who created the first successful computer simulations of black-hole collisions.

This is an exciting time for the field of gravity research. The LIGO–Virgo collaboration is expected to detect many more gravitational-wave events from binary black holes and neutron stars. Meanwhile, a new generation of cosmological probes currently under development, such as Euclid, LSST and SKA, are stimulating theoretical research in their respective domains (CERN Courier May 2017 p19). We are already looking forward to the next Testing Gravity in Vancouver in 2019.


On 12 April, CERN hosted the seven-member high-level group of scientific advisers to the European Commission, which provides independent scientific advice on specific policy issues. Led by former CERN Director-General Rolf Heuer, the group toured ATLAS and the AMS Payload Operations Control Centre.

On 18 April, Czech minister of health Miloslav Ludvik visited CERN, during which he toured the ALICE experiment and signed the guestbook with head of Member State relations Pippa Wells.

Minister for higher education and science in Denmark Søren Pind visited CERN on 25 April, touring the synchrocyclotron, the Antiproton Decelerator, ALICE and ATLAS. Here he is pictured (centre) meeting ATLAS spokesperson Karl Jakobs.

Dr Viktoras Pranckietis MP and speaker of the Seimas, Republic of Lithuania, visited CERN on 26 April, taking in CMS, ISOLDE and MEDICIS. He signed the guestbook with senior adviser for Lithuania Tadeusz Kurtyka (left) and director for finance and human resources Martin Steinacher.