The latest initiative of the Physics for Development group was to launch a program on 3D printing for science with the Cameroon Physical Society in cooperation with Paul Woafo (head of the physics department at Yaoundé 1 University), the founder of the Cameroon Physical Society and its first president. The main goal of this project was to improve the availability of laboratory equipment for use in university, especially for optics accessories. Nowadays taking advantage of the open source availability of 3D design of laboratory equipment it is possible to improve the situation in many universities in which workshops are scarce or not available at all. Through a close cooperation with the Scientific Fab Lab of ICTP (Trieste) a physicist of Yaoundé University Mr Nana Bonaventure was trained for three months and two 3D printer kits with spare parts were sent to him. He was able to build the two 3D printers and to print different objects.
With the announcement, on 11 February 2016, of the first detection ever of a gravitational wave by the LIGO and Virgo Collaborations, a New Astronomy, based on listening to the space-time vibrations, was born.
This long-awaited wave, 100 years after the theoretical prediction by Albert Einstein and 50 years after the first experimental efforts, arrived on Earth on 14 September 2015 and was finally perceived by humans with very smart “microphones”.
2016 marks the centenary of Ernst Mach’s death. Some five years ago, in anticipation of this anniversary, the Czech physical society proposed to designate the building in Prague where Ernst Mach worked as an EPS historic site. Once accepted, the administrative and design planning for the plaque could begin. Indeed, the historical building, the former Institute of Physics, is located in the UNESCO protected Old Town of Prague, recognised by UNESCO’s cultural heritage programme, where patience and attention to details is required. Fortunately enough, the building is still part of Charles University, which – after initial detailed scrutiny of the project – considerably helped obtain the necessary authorisations.
The International Year of Light and Light-based Technologies 2015 [IYL 2015] has been a tremendous success in bringing together academic and industry organisations around the world to join forces to raise awareness of the many ways in which the physics and applications of light impacts our lives in areas such as energy, education, climate-change and health. The success of IYL 2015 crowns six years of hard work by the European Physical Society [EPS] since the first discussions of the idea in 2009.
Particle accelerator SuperKEKB in Japan starts commissioning phase
After five years of upgrade work, the particle accelerator SuperKEKB at the Japanese research centre KEK has taken up operation again. In the first days of March 2016, the first stable beams of electrons and positrons were turning in the 3-kilometre-long ring. This is an important step towards producing particle collisions inside the similarly refurbished detector Belle II, which is still under construction by an international collaboration and will start operation in 2017. In the unprecedented large number of collisions of electrons and their anti-particles, physicists want to produce large numbers of B and D mesons as well as tau leptons. By studying very rare processes they hope to find new physics beyond the standard model of particle physics as well as an answer to the question why the universe consists of largely of matter even though equal amounts of matter and antimatter should have been produced in the Big Bang.
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The EPS Executive Committee met in Athens, Greece on 22-23 January 2016. The meeting was hosted by S. Sotiriou, who is the head of the physics department at the Ellino Germaniki school in Athens. This school is a leader in inquiry based science education. The Executive Committee discussed, among other affairs, the preparation of the EPS Council meeting 2016, the creation of a new EPS Advisory Board for Science Policy and the review of the EPS Strategy. A short summary of the meeting is available for EPS members here.
The 12th EPS Young Minds Action Committee meeting took place at the University of Konstanz (Germany) on 28 November 2015. The YMAC meets twice a year to discuss the most relevant information of the EPS Young Minds project. This time, all members of the committee were present (Ulrike Ritzmann, Antigone Marino, Enrique Sanchez, Bence Godó and Eva Salvador) along with the President of the EPS, Christophe Rossel, the EPS Project leader for YM activities, Ophélia Fornari and the Director of the Institute of Nuclear Research (Debrecen, Hungary), Zolt Fülöp. They welcomed two new members, Robert Caruso and Jonas Berzins. The meeting opened with a presentation of the activities of the Konstanz YM-jDPG section by Karl-Philipp. The continuous growing of the number of Young Minds Sections around Europe was highlighted.
In 2014, three Japanese scientists (Akasaki, Amano, Nakamura) were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics for the invention of efficient blue light-emitting diodes (LEDs). This event has attracted the attention of the Japanese public to the importance of light. Coincidentally, the 2015 International Year of Light and Light-Based Technologies (IYL 2015) began relatively soon thereafter
A European education platform for STEM teachers
Over the past years there have been many discussions about the fact that Europe faces both a marked decrease in the interest of young people in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics [STEM] subjects and a decline in the uptake of STEM careers. It is widely acknowledged that the key to address this problem is to re-imagine science education in order to make it more appealing and fit the needs of all students.
The 2016 Hermann Weyl Prize has been awarded to Vasily Pestun of the Institut des Hautes Études Scientifiques (France) for his ground breaking results in the study of supersymmetric gauge theories, such as his ingenious computation of partition functions that led to the discovery of rich connections between four-dimensional and two-dimensional quantum field theories.
A cross-cutting issue of Horizon 2020, the Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) concept pushed forward by the European Commission (EC) aims to foster and facilitate research and innovation in an inclusive, societally-oriented way.