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COVID-19: EPS staff working from home and services working as usual

Posted By Administration, Friday 20 March 2020
Updated: Friday 20 March 2020

The European Physical Society is complying with the directives from the French authorities to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Since 17 March 2020, EPS staff are at home, working to support EPS activities and programmes, and providing services to our members.

Some EPS conferences and events may be cancelled as a result of the coronavirus. For more information, please check the latest updates for each conference or event on the respective website here.

We recognise that EPS Members and the physics community in general are under considerable stress. Please be assured that we will continue to do all that we can in support of the physics community.

If you need to contact a member of staff, please see:

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2020 Summer Edition Of The Emmy Noether Distinction

Posted By Administration, Monday 16 March 2020
Updated: Tuesday 17 March 2020

In 2013, the European Physical Society launched the Emmy Noether Distinction to recognise noteworthy women physicists having a strong connection to Europe through their nationality or work.

Emmy Noether, with her fundamental and revolutionary work in the areas of abstract algebra and on the conservation laws in theoretical physics, is an exceptional historical figure for all generations - past, present and future - of physicists.

The laureates of the Emmy Noether Distinction are chosen for their capacity to inspire the next generation of scientists, and especially encourage women to pursue a career in physics. Attribution criteria are based on research achievements, coordination of projects and management, committee memberships and teaching activities. The nominees should also be recognized by their peers as role models in the physics community.

The EPS Emmy Noether Distinction for Women in Physics is awarded twice a year, in winter and in summer.

The selection committee, appointed by the EPS Equal Opportunities Committee, will consider nominations of women physicists working in Europe for the 2020 Summer Edition of the Emmy Noether Distinction from May 2020.

For the present edition, nominations will be received until Friday, April 18th, 2020.

To make a nomination, please, email the following information to the EPS Secretariat:

  • A cover letter, detailing (in no more than 3 paragraphs) the motivation for awarding the EPS Emmy Noether Distinction to the nominee;
  • The nominee’s name, institution and email;
  • The nominee’s CV;
  • The nominator’s name, institution, and email.
  • Optional: No more than 3 support letters.

Download the distinction charter and read more about the EPS Emmy Noether Distinction on the EPS website.

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The 2020 EPS PPD PhD Research Award is announced

Posted By Administration, Monday 16 March 2020
Updated: Tuesday 17 March 2020

The EPS Plasma Physics Division is happy to announce the winners of the EPS PPD PhD Research Award. The Selection Committee had following members : Fabien Dorchies, Francois Ryter and Jack Connor.


The Selection Committee proposed 4 candidates for the award:

  • Archie Bott
  • Bart Ripperda
  • Kevin Verhaegh
  • Rogério Jorge


Candidates and citations


Candidate: Archie Bott

Nominator: Alex Schekochihin

Title of PhD thesis: Magnetic-field amplification in turbulent laser-plasmas

Univ./Inst: University of Oxford 

Citation: This work combines theoretical simulations and experimental contributions in laser-generated-jet collision, in order to simulate in a laboratory what happens in various astrophysical contexts. In only the first year of his PhD, Archie Bott produced and published a complete theory of magnetic-field reconstruction from protons radiographic images and a full set of numerical codes needed to apply it. This “preparatory” work was used to significantly enrich this diagnostic tool that provided new information from experiments that he led on the most high-energy lasers in the word.

These original studies and impressive work focused on time-resolved turbulent dynamo process. At the end of his PhD, Archie Bott returned to more theoretical and fundamental work, giving rise to another innovative publication of great depth in physics, which is essentially a comprehensive treatise on plasma instabilities at high beta.


Candidate: Bart Ripperda

Nominator: Rony Keppens

Title of PhD thesis: On magnetic reconnection and particle acceleration in relativistic plasmas

Univ./Inst: KU Leuven University

Citation: This is a theoretical and simulation work that concerns the astrophysics, and more precisely the environment of black holes and neutron stars. In his PhD work, Bart Ripperta combines very strong knowledge and understanding of plasma physics and general gravity, which allows him to tackle problems that are well beyond the scope of traditional plasma physics and astrophysics. He built a variety of word-class numerical tools for plasma physics in strong gravitational fields, including general relativistic & resistive magneto-hydrodynamic, and a set of algorithms for pushing charged particles in electromagnetic fields around black holes.

This remarkable work on photon and particle paths in full general relativity is of highest quality, and has already received broad recognition in the international plasma astrophysics community. It directly benefits the Event Horizon Telescope collaboration for which he has been actively working for a year.


Candidate: Kevin Verhaegh

Nominator: Bruce Lipschultz

Title of PhD thesis: Spectroscopic investigations of detachment on TCV: Investigating the role of atomic physics on the ion current rollover and the dynamics of detachment in TCV

Univ./Inst: University of York

Citation: This thesis presents new results on the physics of detachment in a tokamak divertor, a complex topic because it involves not only plasma physics but also atomic phenomena. This is extensively discussed in Kevin Verhaegh's thesis, showing clearly that he understands very well this physics.

Kevin Verhaegh developed excellent divertor measurements and a novel method to analyse the data taking into account both the recombination and excitation contributions to the Balmer lines. He shows convincingly that the ion flux is not only due to recombination, as assumed during the last two decades, but that, in addition, the ionisation of the neutrals is an important contribution. Furthermore, he demonstrates that the latter is limited by a loss of power into the divertor recycling region when density increases, contributing significantly to the saturation. He validated these important results with modelling using the edge and divertor code SOLPS-ITER, showing that the modelling results match the experimental observations much better than in the past.

This new view contributes significantly to fusion research as divertor detachment will be required in future devices to reduce the power load. With this new knowledge modelling and extrapolation of divertor detachment are more reliable.


Candidate: Rogério Jorge

Nominator: Paolo Ricci

Title of PhD thesis: A moment-based model for plasma dynamics of arbitrary collisionality

Univ./Inst: EPFL, University of Lisbon

Citation: This thesis tackles a long-standing problem, namely, how to develop a set of equations that can uniformly describe plasma behaviour in situations where the collisionality ranges from essentially collision-less to highly collisional, a situation that pertains in the edge region of a tokamak in particular. This region is crucial to a tokamak’s performance and the viability of fusion as an energy source, controlling overall confinement and exhaust; an ability to model the region is essential for the development of fusion power. This thesis develops a set of fluid-like moment equations suitable for this purpose. The derivation is based on a Sonine-Laguerre expansion of the drift-kinetic plasma equations and treats the full non-linear Coulomb collision operator, an analytic tour-de- force. The model is appropriate for describing the scrape-off-region, which contains open magnetic field lines and lies between the confined plasma region and the containment vessel; furthermore, it can describe the large fluctuations that are present there.  A similar procedure is also applied in the thesis to the full-F gyro-kinetic model, which is suitable for modelling the adjacent confinement region of a tokamak. In addition, efficient numerical algorithms for computing solutions to these equations are formulated. Finally, the methodology is applied in practice to study the impact of collisions on plasma oscillations and drift waves, using different common simplified collision models; the results show surprising sensitivities.  The model is now ready for application to the tokamak edge problem. This work, performed independently and with considerable initiative, constitutes a seminal contribution to magnetic confinement fusion, and plasma theory in general, demonstrating novelty and originality and exhibits both analytic and numerical skills.

Tags:  award  EPS Plasma Physics Division  EPS PPD 

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EPL board meeting in Bristol

Posted By Administration, Monday 16 March 2020
Updated: Monday 16 March 2020

author: Bart van Tiggelen

FLTR in the rear: F. Burr, A. Henri, B. van  Tiggelen, A. Oleandri (in the frame), J. Enderby (seated), C. Rossel, Z. Anderson
FLTR in the front: A. Ruimy, A. Seymour, S. Enderby, D. Lee - image credit: Bart van Tiggelen

Meeting Board of Directors  of EPL in February at the IOPP headquarters in Bristol (UK), and an opportunity to meet Sir John Enderby, former Advisor of the Board of Directors of EPL, and his wife.

Tags:  EPL 

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The Institute of Physics and IOP Publishing appoint Professor Qi-Kun Xue as chief scientific advisor for China

Posted By Administration, Monday 16 March 2020
Updated: Monday 16 March 2020

author: Institute of Physics

 Professor Qi-Kun Xue

The Institute of Physics (IOP) and IOP Publishing (IOPP) have appointed Professor Qi-Kun Xue as chief scientific advisor for China.

In the newly created role, Professor Xue will support the IOP and IOPP as they continue to strengthen relationships with the scientific community in China. He will advise on strategic engagement with key decision makers in government and the scientific community and provide expert insight into political and institutional processes. He will also lead a new Science Advisory Board made up of distinguished academic and industry professionals, which has been formed by the organisations to provide guidance on developments in research and academic publishing throughout China.

Professor Xue is currently Vice President of Tsinghua University, Beijing and President of Beijing Academy of Quantum Information Sciences (BAQIS). He is also a Vice-President of the Chinese Physical Society.

He received his BSc from Shan-Dong University in 1984 and his PhD in condensed matter physics from the Institute of Physics of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (IOPCAS) in 1994.

His academic career began as a Research Associate at the Institute for Materials Research, Tohoku University, Japan. He progressed to Visiting Assistant Professor in the Department of Physics at North Carolina State University in 1996. Xue received his professorship from IOPCAS in 1999 and moved to the Department of Physics, Tsinghua University as a Distinguished Professor, in 2005.

In 2016, he was the first recipient of the Physical Science Award of the new Future Science Prize – China’s first non-governmental science award – for his ground-breaking discoveries of novel quantum phenomena using molecular beam epitaxy, including quantum anomalous Hall effect (QAHE) and monolayer FeSe superconductivity.

Commenting on his appointment, Professor Xue, said: “Thanks to substantial investment, and the hard work and dedicated focus of its research community, China is at the forefront of science globally. I am very proud to be helping the Institute of Physics and IOP Publishing in their efforts to forge closer working relationships with the scientific community in China.”

Professor Paul Hardaker, Chief Executive Officer at the Institute of Physics, said: “We are honoured that Professor Xue has agreed to become our first chief scientific advisor for China. It’s extremely important for us to strengthen and develop our links with China’s scientific community, to enable us to learn from one another and foster greater collaboration. I’m looking forward to working closely with Professor Xue and the Advisory Board in the coming years to achieve this.”

Antonia Seymour, Director of Publishing at IOP Publishing, said: “At IOP Publishing we’re very fortunate to have published some of the most significant research from scientists in China, many of whom are considered world leaders in their fields. Alongside our colleagues at IOP, we feel very privileged to have access to the advice and guidance of Professor Xue as we work to build our links with the Chinese research community.”

Tags:  China  Institute of Physics  IOP  IOPP 

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How can we bring innovation to schools?

Posted By Gina Gunaratnam, Monday 16 March 2020
Updated: Monday 16 March 2020

author: Enrique Sanchez-Bautista

The Digital Era in which we live brings  structural changes in our ways of living: one key element that our society must face is changes in the education system: It is not easy to build schools that will cater to the needs of the fast-changing world of the 21st century, yet the there is a promise for that: The Open Schools for Open Societies Project (OSOS).

Open Schools for Open Societies Project celebrated in Lisbon

The European Commission’s three-year  project – Open Schools for Open Societies (OSOS) – celebrated its final achievements in a conference that took place on 14th February 2020 at the Pavilhao Do Conhecimento in Lisbon.

During the course of these years, this big scale project gathered over 1100 schools, 2100 teachers, and 80.000 high school students. The OSOS model proposed school heads a framework to collaborate between schools: different schools could form together an innovation hub, in which they could help each other, collect good practices and share their experiences. Moreover, it proposed a design in which students could learn from the real world situations.[1]

The European Physical Society, which was part of the OSOS consortium, participated along with national policy makers, university professors and 30 school leaders from 15 European countries in the recent closing ceremony conference that demonstrated the successful implementation of the project in Portugal.

In this context, over 150 students and teachers from all corners in the country showcased their exciting work and shared their open schooling experiences. The highlight of the event included inspiring talks by the students on their work and on what they think are the real challenges in education and in life. All the 30 school projects addressed very important issues such as climate change, local environmental issues, democracy, participation, inclusion, engagement, the defense of science, the threat of misinformation, outdoor education and other contemporary ideas.[2]

As a partner in OSOS, the EPS contributed to the dissemination and sustainability project plan by facilitating all the partners with its network of science teachers in Europe and by providing all the relevant information about meetings, trainings and conferences throughout Europe where its members would be contacted to disseminate the project’s results.[3]

Given the successful outcome of OSOS project, European Physical society will continue to advocate for the open schooling approach that showed the transformative potential of the education system, something that would have been unimaginable just a few years ago.

[1] Open Discovery Space Portal, February 24th, OSOS Consortium Meeting

[2] Open Discovery Space Portal, February 24th , OSOS Conference in Lisbon

[3] Coordination and Support Action, Number 741572 OSOS, Annex 1 (part A), Description of work and role of partners, page 34, paragraph 1, line 14.

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EPS Executive Committee and Staff activities in 2020

Posted By admin, Wednesday 12 February 2020
Updated: Monday 24 February 2020


  • Petra Rudolf, EPS president, participated in the Physics@Veldhoven conference where she handed over the certificate and medal of the EPS Emmy Noether Distinction to Cristiane de Morais Smith, the laureate of the 2nd 2019 edition of the distinction.
  • 29 Janunary to 1st February: Petra Rudolf, EPS president, took part in the APS International Leadership Forum, Washington DC, and participated in a panel discussion about fundamental research and its relation to national economy and national security.


  • 6-7 February: Petra Rudolf, EPS President, Rüdiger Voss, EPS past-president, David Lee, EPS Secretary General, participated in the Executive Committee Meeting at CERN, Switzerland.
  • 24 February: Petra Rudolf, EPS president, was in Brussels, Belgium, 2020 to discuss the organisation of the train-the-trainers workshop on talking to policy makers which is planned at the Catholic University in Leuven on May 25-26, 2020.
  • 25 February: F. Burr attended the EPL Management Committee Meeting, Bristol, UK. 
  • 26 February: David Lee, EPS Secretary General and F. Burr attended the EPL Board of Directors Meeting, Bristol, UK. 
  • 27 February: Petra Rudolf, EPS President, visited EPS headquarters in Mulhouse and, together with Rüdiger Voss, EPS past president and David Lee, EPS Secretary General, participated in the meeting of the “Grand Challenges” Editorial Board in Mulhouse, France.
  • 28 February 2020: Patricia Helfenstein, EPS Conference Manager, attended the World of Photonics Congress steering committee meeting in Munich, Germany.

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SIF presidency: It's not a farewell!

Posted By admin, Tuesday 11 February 2020
Updated: Tuesday 25 February 2020

Angela Bracco and Luisa Cifarelli

Here comes my last editorial, as President, on SIF Prima Pagina, the electronic newsletter that supports Il Nuovo Saggiatore as from 2014. Bulletin of the Italian Physical Society, founded in 1985 on an idea by Pio Picchi, renewed in its editorial format since 2008, Il Nuovo Saggiatore – whose last 2019 issue has just been published – represents today not only the voice of SIF in Italy and abroad but also a well-known and appreciated magazine for the dissemination of scientific culture.

This year, during the Congress, the elections for the societal offices of the SIF were held, the outcome of which shows that overall almost 44% of eligible Members voted. A higher percentage would have been preferable but it was still a percentage comparable with or even higher than those usually obtained in other Societies, for example the IOP (Institute of Physics) or the APS (American Physical Society), in similar electoral consultations.  

The Council renews itself with two new Councillors, Antigone Marino and Bernardo Spagnolo, and a new President, to whom I am very happy to pass the baton after so many years of presidency. It is the eminent colleague and friend, Angela Bracco, from the University of Milan. Indeed, I am really happy to do this with a female SIF President, the second case in 122 years of the Society's history!

The SIF closes 2019 with a budget that does not raise particular concerns despite the current changing scenario of scientific publishing that does not seem to want to favor small publishing houses. But the SIF has excellent relations and international partnership contracts, in particular with Springer Nature, which for now "secured” it". Another security factor derives from the efficiency and effectiveness of its editorial offices, from the quality of its own journals, especially La Rivista del Nuovo Cimento, which exceeded this year seven points of impact factor, and from the value of its volumes. After the publication and presentation at the Library of the Italian Senate of the volume "I Fisici Senatori 1848-1943", the upcoming publications are: "Scientific Papers of Ettore Majorana – A new expanded edition" and "Laura Bassi - The world's first woman professor in natural philosophy – An iconic physicist in Enlightenment Italy" (the latter both co-produced by SIF and Springer Nature).

Of course, the good economic performance of the SIF is also and above all due to its virtuous personnel and careful management of resources. All this allows it to hold in Varenna its famous courses of the International School of Physics "Enrico Fermi" and of the EPS-SIF International School on Energy, to organize every year its National Congress, to establish its numerous and coveted awards for young and less young people, to carry out his multiple sponsorships of events, scholarships, etc.

Finally, since I don’t want to retrace all the many actions taken by the SIF during the years of my presidency, also internationally thanks to its lively collaboration with other Societies, especially the EPS (European Physical Society) and the APS (American Physical Society), I leave it to you to do the repertoire. I just like to remember some of them, starting from the report "The impact of physics on the Italian economy", commissioned by the SIF to Deloitte in 2014, in collaboration with the major Italian research institutions; passing through the battle for the Association of professional physicists and then for the Order of professional chemists and physicists (which was carried out after many "fibrillations"), for which the SIF continues to be activate through various institutions, in particular ConPER (Consulta dei Presidenti degli Enti di Ricerca); and ending with the very recent and immediate signing by the SIF of the open letter in support of Education and Research as priority areas for Europe. The letter has achieved an unexpected success and allowed to modify the portfolio’s title of the new European Commissioner M. Gabriel from "Innovation and Youth" to "Education, Research, Culture, Innovation and Youth".

Having reached this year the end of my mandate, I sincerely thank the SIF and its staff. I thank all the Councillors with whom I have had the honour of collaborating and express my warmest wishes to the President and to the newly elected Councillors.

To all SIF Members, who with their support and trust have granted me in all these years a fabulous and unforgettable opportunity, my warmest thanks.

To them and to all our readers, Happy 2020!

Luisa Cifarelli
SIF President

This editorial is a republication from the Editorial of SIF Pagina, the newsletter of the Italian Physical Society, dated 20 December 2019

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Important milestone for KM3NeT

Posted By admin, Tuesday 11 February 2020
Updated: Thursday 13 February 2020

With the installation of two more detection units at the French site of KM3NeT, the first phase of building the ORCA detector of the KM3NeT neutrino telescope is now complete. Since 27 January 2020, the detector is taking data with six detection units. The first candidate neutrino events are already seen.

During a sea campaign in January, two new detection units were connected to the seafloor network at the KM3NeT/ORCA deep sea site, 40 km offshore from Toulon, France (Figure 1). The detection units were successfully positioned twenty metres apart to within a metre of their target position 2.5 km below the sea surface. This highlights the skills of the staff on board the deployment ship, the precision of the custom acoustic positioning system and the maturity of the deployment method based on an innovative launching vehicle. Using a robot, remotely operated from a second ship, the deployed units were connected to the seafloor network of the ORCA site. After a visual inspection of the detection units by the robot, the power was switched on and data taking with ORCA6 started immediately.

The ORCA6 detector

The ORCA detector has now six detection units - hence ORCA6. These are six vertical lines each with 18 optical modules (Figure 2), high-pressure resistant glass spheres housing 31 3-inch diameter photo-multiplier tubes to record the faint Cherenkov light generated by charged particles in the sea water. Each photo-multiplier records the intensity of the light flash, i.e. the number or photons, and - with a nanosecond precision - when it arrives. A compass, tilt meter and acoustic receiver record the position of the module in the sea water within a few centimetres. With these measurements the path the charged particle took through the detector is precisely reconstructed.

Searching for neutrino events

Physicists are  on shift around the clock, 7 days a week, to remotely operate the deep sea detector. The recorded data is stored in the computer centres of the KM3NeT Collaboration for further analysis. The first step is to reconstruct from the recorded light flashes the path of charged particles through the ORCA6 detector.  Most of them are muon particles generated in the Earth's atmosphere and travel downwards through the detector (Figure 3). A few others travel upwards (Figures 4 and 5); this is an indication that they are neutrinos that have passed through the Earth and interacted in the vicinity of the detector.

Important milestone for ORCA

Operating six detection units is an important milestone for KM3NeT as it marks the completion of the so-called 'Phase 1' of ORCA. In the next phase of KM3NeT/ORCA, the detector will be extended to 115 detection units. With the full ORCA detector, the KM3NeT researchers aim to determine the neutrino mass ordering using atmospheric neutrinos.

Figure 1: Deployment of a detection unit at the ORCA site of KM3NeT. © KM3NeT


Figure 2: The KM3NeT optical module. © KM3NeT


Figure 3: Example of a reconstructed down-going atmospheric muon observed by ORCA6.
Optical modules hit by the Cherenkov light are shown enlarged. © KM3NeT

Figure 4: Example of a reconstructed candidate neutrino event observed in ORCA6.
Optical modules hit by the Cherenkov light are shown enlarged. © KM3NeT


Figure 5: A so-called z-t plot of a candidate neutrino event measured in ORCA6.
The six plots correspond to the detection units. On the y-axis the height in the detector and the on the x-axis the time of arrival of the light. Each point represents a detected photon. The red points are the hits that triggered the event and the red line is the projection of the fitted Cherenkov light cone. © KM3NeT

author: Els de Wolf, Nikhef, Amsterdam

Tags:  KM3NeT  multimessenger astronomy  neutrino  ORCA 

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52nd Conference of the European Group on Atomic Systems (EGAS)

Posted By admin, Tuesday 11 February 2020
Updated: Thursday 13 February 2020
The European Group for Atomic Systems (EGAS) will hold its 52th annual conference from July 6 to 10, 2020, in Zagreb, Croatia. Several highly distinguished plenary and invited speakers will present their research in Zagreb, including Ignacio Cirac, Jean Dalibard, Frédéric Merkt, Christiane Morais Smith, Ruth Signorell and Jun Ye, among others. More than two hundred scientist from across Europe are expected for this 52th EGAS conference.

Registration is now open, and detailed information can be found at

The EGAS group is part of the Atomic, Molecular and Optical Physics Division of the EPS with the aim to promote studies in atomic, molecular, and optical physics and related topics. Information on the EGAS activities and on previous EGAS conferences is found at

author: Rosario Gonzalez-Ferez, chair of the EPS EGAS board

Tags:  conferences  EPS EGAS  European Group on Atomic Systems 

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