Skip to content. Skip to navigation

ICTP Portal

You are here: Home words Search all news 2010 First African School of Physics
Personal tools
Document Actions

First African School of Physics

ICTP-supported school brings cutting-edge physics to sub-Saharan Africa

This August, students and scientists from African countries will get the rare opportunity to learn about innovative physics experiments, accelerators and technology on their own continent.

The first African School of Physics will take place 1-21 August at the National Institute of Theoretical Physics in Stellenbosch, South Africa. ICTP, along with 12 other international institutions, is supporting the School.

Fifty-nine students—including 40 from 17 African countries—will take part in the programme, learning about theoretical and experimental physics from leading international scientists. Most of the students are pursuing or have completed advanced degrees in physics, but lack opportunities to gain specialized knowledge in subatomic physics. The trip and expenses for all African students are paid for by the school.

"This may be the first opportunity these students have to learn about particle and nuclear physics," said Steve Muanza, a physicist at France’s CNRS/IN2P3 and the co-founder and director of the school.  "We hope that the material presented at the school piques their interest and they go on to pursue these topics."

ICTP high energy physicist Bobby Acharya, one of the school's organizers, said that the school represents an international effort to build scientific capacity in sub-Saharan Africa. "That area of the continent needs the most assistance in developing capacity in particle and nuclear physics. There are few high energy physics experts and researchers there, and very little experimental efforts, except in South Africa, which is why we decided to locate the first school there," he explained.

Topics to be covered include current and future particle and nuclear physics experiments, theoretical physics, particle accelerators and technology, information technology and grid computing. Simon Connell, a member of the local organizing committee, believes that the intensive three-week program could equate to a semester-long university course. "We will cover a lot of subject matter not taught at any university in Africa," Connell said. "Students can take the knowledge they learn here back to their home institutions, where they can continue researching and teaching. We don't expect the benefits of the school to stop when they leave."

Acharya stated that the students' newly-gained knowledge will be sustained by a mentoring programme that will pair them with the School's lecturers. He also hopes that some of the students will consider continuing their studies at ICTP, through its Diploma Programme in High Energy or Basic Physics or by attending the Centre's many workshops and schools.

Students won’t be limited to lecture halls. A videoconference with the CERN particle physics laboratory in Geneva, Switzerland, will link students with physicists operating the Large Hadron Collider from CERN’s Control Centre for accelerators. Students will also spend one afternoon at iThemba LABS, an accelerator facility in South Africa, practicing laboratory experiments and learning about how particle physics and its associated technologies can apply to other fields, including medicine.

“The lessons in these final days of the school will help students link the concepts they've learned to the real world," said Fermilab scientist Christine Darve, head school organizer.

This year’s school takes place in South Africa, the first African country to become a member of an experiment at CERN’s Large Hadron Collider. Organizers hope this will be the start of a tradition, and plan to host the school every two years.

The school is administered and supported by the following institutes: Abdus Salam International Centre for Theoretical Physics (ICTP), Trieste, Italy; Brookhaven National Laboratory, New York, USA; Commissariat a l’énergie atomique (CEA), France; Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne (EPFL), Lausanne, Switzerland; European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN), Geneva, Switzerland; Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab), Illinois, USA; Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS), Institut National de Physique Nucléaire et de Physics des Particules (IN2P3), and Institut des Grilles, France; National Institute for Theoretical Physics (NITheP), Stellenbosch, South Africa; National Research Foundation (NRF), South Africa; Spanish Agency for International Cooperation and Development, Minister of Foreign Affairs (AECID), through the University of Santiago de Compostela; Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI), Villigen, Switzerland; Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility and Jefferson Science Associates, Virginia, USA.

For more information and photos, visit the first African School of Physics website.


Powered by Plone This site conforms to the following standards: