Wednesday, 9 April 2014

IoP conference day 2

The pre-dinner reception
was going on through this
Day two of the IoP Nuclear Physics Conference is the only completely full day.  It was pretty full of shorter parallel talks by students and postdocs - which is really the heart of the the national conference, but I only made notes to blog from from the first, plenary, session of invited talks.  Here's a summary:

The morning session kicked off with Evgenny Epelbaum talking about Chiral approaches to nuclear forces.  This method builds up nuclear forces and allows nuclear structure calculations from basic QCD-inspired ideas.  Evgenny presented results including the famous Hoyle state in Carbon, reproducing the energy pretty well.

Next up, Gary Simpson from the University of the West of Scotland, looking at what happens to the structure of tin isotopes, as one looks at very heavy exotic isotopes beyond Sn-132.  Some theories suggest that N=90 might be a local magic number and lead to a surprisingly stable Sn-140 isotope, which may have a strong influence on explosive nuclear processes in stars.  With Sn-132 already being pretty exotic, it’s quite some thing to suggest that one could then look at a substantial extension to the tin isotopes, but thanks to the RIKEN facility, they’ve now made it out to Sn-142.  

Andrei Andreyev talked about a series of results of properties of nuclei in the vicinity of lead.  In their experiments, they produce their nuclei by firing protons at Uranium targets, and produce a whole slew of reaction and decay products.  Here, Andrei concentrated on spallation reactions, which give resulting nuclei a bit lighter than Uranium, and in particular produced may results of astatine isotopes.  Astatine is often quoted as the rarest isotope found on Earth, with only a fraction of a gram in the Earth’s crust at any one time.  Their work included the first determination of the chemical ionisation potential of astatine.  Go nuclear physics!

The final plenary talk of the morning was by Judith McGovern whose talk was on proton polarisabilities from Compton Scattering.  Scattering photons off of protons is not as simple as it might seem, thanks to the size and structure of the proton.  Thanks to the presence of charged objects inside protons (i.e. quarks), the electric field associated with photons can cause a separation and movement of charges inside the proton and cause knock on effects on the scattered photon, such as a polarisation of the light. Judith presented some of the important questions and attempts to find theoretical resolutions, including some of the intriguing recent results like the apparent measurement of a much smaller proton than previously thought. 

The next three session were all parallel, so clearly I only saw half the remaining talks.  I was pleased with how my student did, and it was encouraging that he got lots of interesting questions afterwards, which then prompted a discussion in the break afterwards, which gave us a list of calculations to make that can keep us occupied for a long time.
The evening featured the conference dinner, which is a nice highlight of all conferences.  It's not really a way of wasting research money on fine dining, but rather an important part of community cohesion for a group of people that spend most of the year not seeing each other, but having to work as a unified community at various points (e.g. when interacting with funding agencies).  The UK conference is good place for new students to get to
know each other and the community's old hands.   Over dinner, some of us old hands talked about famous events from old conferences, and hopefully some of the students here this week will be doing the same at an IoP Nuclear Conference in many years from now.

I've interspersed some pictures taken at the dinner through the post.

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