Skip to content. Skip to navigation

ICTP Portal

You are here: Home words Search all news 2010 Cosmic Cultures
Personal tools
Document Actions

Cosmic Cultures

ICTP co-hosts Romanian "Carpathian Summer School of Physics 2010"

Cosmic Cultures

Group picture of the participants and organisers of the Carpathian Summer School 2010, Romania.

  "We are all made of star stuff" -

Carl Sagan

The above aphorism applies well to the recent Carpathian Summer School of Physics 2010 "From Nuclei to Stars," held in Romania. The school was conducted collectively by the Cyclotron Institute , Texas A&M University, Horia Hulubei National Institute for Physics and Nuclear Engineering, the Horia Hulubei Foundation, and ICTP from 20 June until 3 July. The Carpathian summer schools have a long history, dating back almost 40 years, with this being the 23rd edition.

ICTP-Romania came into being in early 2008 after a memorandum of agreement was signed between ICTP and "Horia Hulubei." The range of topics for this summer school was carefully chosen, giving considerable thought to the fields of science most practiced in Romania and covered at ICTP. Physicist Alexei Smirnov from the High Energy, Cosmology and Astroparticle Physics Section of ICTP was one of the directors for the school, and physicist Goran Senjanovic from the same department was on the International Advisory Committee. Smirnov and the other directors were instrumental in setting up a way to meld the variety of topics that the workshop covered; ranging from nuclear physics and particle physics to  astrophysics and cosmology. Both the theoretical and experimental aspects were covered during the two-week school.

The  profile of the course underwent a considerable revision this year, with week one at a basic level and week two at an advanced level. The first week saw two- to four-hour lectures being held to familiarize young researchers to various vistas in the field. During the second week, 50 experts from all over the world lectured at a much more advanced level, drawing on the topics introduced the previous week. Smirnov himself conducted two introductory lectures on the basics of neutrino properties and their propagation. The organizers also brought together a number of top level experts in the fields of solar neutrinos,  solar nuclear reactions, nucleosynthesis and the life-cycle of stars covering the spectrum of the "From Nuclei to Stars" banner.  Preliminary experimental results from numerous experiments and facilities were discussed; for example first results from detectors like the IceCube Neutrino Observatory were examined.

Two special features of this school included a one-day workshop conducted during the second week that covered the future of large-scale structures in Europe like the LAGUNA detectors, as well as round-table outreach session that discussed the highly engaging topic of "Science and Society--Do (all) countries need science?" This was attended by some government science representatives as well as the local press. Ways and means of developing science in Romania and catalysing further participation in European science ventures were debated. The dean of the faculty commented upon links that Romania has with research facilities and centers within the European Union and about more such centers helping to advance Romanian science. Answering the question posed as the debate topic, it was agreed that all countries do need science. But the levels of research and technical and financial capabilities differ, so even people from the developing world must be given a chance. Capability and scientific literacy have no geographical boundaries. "Things are changing. We have big science experiments now, like the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, unlike the table top experiments of the past," says Smirnov, adding, " Science is an element of culture. People who do research should promote science as it is the way to civilized progress."

Smirnov recalls that toward the end of the debate, a student came up to the speakers and showed them some simulations that he ran, of cascading neutrino particles for the area where they were seated during the talk! A thrilling part of the school that had less to do with physics and more with folklore and history was a visit to a castle in the vicinity that is setting for Bram Stoker's famous novel Dracula. Incidentally, Dracula was never situated at that castle for more than a few days, but the stories still live on. The castle is on the border of of Transylvania, Bukovina and Moldavia and is a tourist attraction.

About 70 students and 50 researchers attended the conference over the two weeks. The students were pleased with the chance to mingle with the best of the best from their chosen field.
More information about the school and some supplementary materials can be found here:


Powered by Plone This site conforms to the following standards: