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Cosmic Axis

Summer School in Cosmology at ICTP

Cosmic Axis

A lecture on Inflation by Professor D. Baumann, Princeton

ICTP's two-week-long “Summer School in Cosmology”, co-hosted by the Italian Institute for Nuclear Physics (INFN), came to a stellar end on 30 July after a full schedule of wide-ranging lectures covering all aspects of modern cosmology, a field that is making enormous progress on an annual scale. The school, held every two years, had over 238 participants.

The main aim of the school was to update current graduate students and senior, non-expert researchers about the most current work being done in astroparticle physics and cosmology. The first four days covered a basic syllabus with a series of lectures on an  “Introduction to Cosmology” by J.A. Peacock from University of Edinburgh, U.K. in the mornings, followed by introductory lectures on gravitational waves, lensing, large scale structures and dark energy in the afternoons and discussion groups towards the end.

“There are some basic topics that we must cover at each school such as inflation, dark energy, and large scale structures," says ICTP researcher Paulo Creminelli, a director of the school, adding, "But we also introduce new topics each year. This year we had lectures on galaxy formation, gravitational waves, neutrino physics and galactic clusters. Also, we ensure that all the speakers are new at each school.”

The reason for this is to give young researchers, many of whom were participants of previous schools, an opportunity to come to ICTP and lecture to a large group of people in the field from all over the world. “Fields are evolving. If you look at the age of the lecturers, many people are below 40,” says Creminelli. These relatively young researchers are some of the best in their specialised fields in cosmology, he says.

 Mo Houjun of the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, United States, one of the speakers, recalled coming to ICTP in the 1980s and having his first paper printed while here. Houjun works on galaxy formation, a field of astrophysics that has made many developments in the past two years.

“This conference is quite broad and yet all the fields are connected,” he says, adding, “ICTP is quite popular and known to many different countries. The program is designed in such a way that it is broad but not exclusive. People want to learn the other fields, apart from their own specialities, and this is extremely important for students.”

 All the students who attended were thankful to be chosen for the school (out of nearly 700 applicants) and for the opportunity to visit ICTP, meet their global peers and interact with experts.

 “I didn’t expect too many people to ask questions during lectures and that was largely the case. But after the talks, the speakers were surrounded by a group of students who would not let them go,” says ICTP postdoctoral fellow Marcello Musso, a scientific secretary of the conference. “The separation between student and researcher is not so big at ICTP,” agrees Creminelli. The school also saw a large number of female participants, a trend that has the directors hoping for many more women speakers in the coming years.

The lectures recorded by ICTP's EyA automatic recording system of the school can be viewed online here.


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