The APS Southeastern Section held its annual meeting November 9-11 in Williamsburg, Virginia, offering a broad program of presentations in fields ranging from neutrino physics, gamma-ray bursts, nanostructures, biomaterials and NMR measurements with sessions enumerating the past successes and future aspirations of the nuclear physics program at the Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility (JLab). Special events included a tour of JLab, and the traditional banquet.
The keynote banquet speaker was Philip Bogden, program director for the SURA Coastal Ocean Observing and Prediction (SCOOP) program and CEO of Gulf of Maine Ocean Observing System (GoMOOS), who spoke of creating a virtual national laboratory for predicting hurricane impacts. A national, multi-agency initiative called the Integrated Ocean Observing System would combine the knowledge, data-integration capacity, and computational power necessary for real-time environmental prediction and hazard planning. Collectively, hurricanes in 2005 caused more than 2280 deaths and record damages of over $100 billion.
DNA Self-Assembly for Computing. How might the migration of circuit fabrication from the microscale to the nanoscale change the way computer systems are engineered, in light of the fundamental physics limitations on the materials being used? Chris Dwyer of Duke University described recent advances in programmable DNA self-assembly that offer several new methods for synthesizing complex nanostructures suitable for logic circuitry. They could lead to new modes of computation that would be impractical with conventional technologies.
Proton Radiotherapy on the Rise. Cynthia Keppel of Hampton University and JLab spoke about the upcoming proton therapy center being set up at Hampton Roads. It is the sixth and largest of its kind for treating cancer patients. According to Keppel, proton therapy provides radiation oncologists with a highly exact method of localizing treatment within a patient, thereby minimizing side effects as well as controlling the progression of the disease. The result: maximal radiation doses for cancerous tumors, with minimal doses to surrounding healthy tissue.
New Frontiers. One session focused on current and near-future facilities for performing cutting-edge high energy physics experiments. Talks naturally focused on the Large Hadron Collider, slated to come online at CERN in 2008. Another session focused on the search for gravitational waves, with status reports on the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO), its next-generation counterpart, the upgraded Advanced LIGO, and the space-based Laser Interferometer Space Antenna (LISA). Yet another session focused on recent advances in neutrino physics, featuring status reports on numerous experiments, including MINOS, Borexino, KamLAND, and MiniBooNE.
JLab Upgrade. JLab is in the process of its own major 12 GeV upgrade, which will enable numerous key experimental measurements over the next five years, according to JLab’s William Brooks. For instance, the energy-doubled CEBAF electron accelerator will allow for more precise measurements of the generalized parton distributions (GPDs) that first emerged in the mid-1990s, which is revolutionizing how physicists think about the intrinsic structure of the proton. Also, the GlueX project will map the spectrum of gluon excitations with photons.