APS News

DNP, Japanese Nuclear Physicists Have Fun in the Sun in Hawaii

Nuclear physicists from the US and Japan convened in Maui, Hawaii, for the annual fall meeting of the APS Division of Nuclear Physics (DNP), held October 17-20. The historic event marks the first joint meeting between the DNP and the nuclear physicists of the Japanese Physical Society (JPS), organized in the hopes that it would serve as a meeting ground to engender cooperation and the exchange of ideas among nuclear scientists from the US and Japan, as well as from other Pacific Rim countries.

"There are many common threads in the research interests pursued by the nuclear physics communities of Japan and the US," said Virginia Brown of MIT and the University of Maryland, who chaired the organizing committee. "These exist at the level of big projects as well as the individual investigator. Our goal was to bring the two societies together at both levels in a truly joint meeting emphasizing topics of common interest."

Attendance was strong despite some cancellations caused by an FBI generic warning of the potential for increased terrorist activity, according to DNP Chair Joel Moss (Los Alamos National Laboratory). Highlights included a special session on the status of women and minorities in physics, featuring talks by APS Executive Officer Judy Franz and Professor Masako Bando of Aichi University. And in a whimsical nod to the unique culture of the region, the traditional Friday evening banquet was replaced with a special Hawaiian luau.

The scientific program was spearheaded by a plenary session which focused on present and future relativistic ion beam facilities. Larry McLerran of Brookhaven National Laboratory gave a summary of what scientists have learned and expect to discover about matter at high energy density from the heavy ion program at RHIC, including insights into quark gluon-plasmas and color-glass condensates. And Shoji Nagamiya described the status of the joint JAERI/KEK high intensity proton accelerator project, a 189 billion yen project that recently began its six year construction phase.

There were also an unusually large number of mini symposia, featuring one invited talk followed by numerous contributed papers on the same topic. "These symposia lend themselves to alternating JPS and APS invited and contributed speakers. A lot of work went into picking topics of mutual interest and intertwining speakers," said Brown.

One such symposium focused on atoms containing such exotic particles as muons, pions, kaons or antiprotons which, while not a new subject, remains active and product thanks to several new collaborative facilities, according to R.S. Hayano (University of Tokyo), who kicked off the session. For example, a new low energy antiproton facility at CERN called "AD" ["antiproton decelerator"] is already beginning to produce new results since it started delivering 5 MeV pulsed antiprotons last year. The ATHENE and TRAP collaborations are making steady progress towards cold antiproton synthesis, and the ASACUSA collaboration recently succeeded in decelerating antiprotons down to about 10 KeV by using a radio frequency quadrupole decelerator.

Neutrinos are of great interest in both nuclear physic and astrophysics, according to Gail McLaughlin (North Carolina State University), who described how both ordinary stars and supernovae release neutrinos which undergo flavor transformation. Her Thursday morning talk focused on the role of neutrino scattering and flavor transformation in supernova nucleosynthesis, as well as possible observable consequences of such transformations on the neutrino signature of the next galactic supernova. The same session also featured the latest results gleaned from the Sudbury Neutrino Observatory, an imaging Cerenkov detector that observes neutrinos from the sun in hopes of providing evidence for flavor transformation of electron neutrinos without reference to solar model flux calculations.

While not a nuclear physicist himself, APS President George Trilling (Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory) was on hand to represent the Society and declared the meeting "a great success." His enthusiasm was echoed by Moss, who reported that one Japanese member of the organizing committee suggested that "we do this every year." "The area of nuclear physics is particularly suitable for a joint meeting because of the many subtopics in that field where there are US/Japan collaborative efforts using facilities in both countries," says Trilling. "I hope that in the future it may be possible to organize additional efforts in both Japan and the US, including [research] collaborations."


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