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Michael Banks: November 2011 Archives

SESAME
Shamin Kharrazi talks about plans for the Iranian Light Source Facility

By Michael Banks

You may remember a few weeks ago when I wrote about Turkey’s plans to build a 3 GeV synchrotron in Ankara. In fact the next decade will see two other new synchrotrons springing up in the Middle East.

One – SESAME – is near Amman, Jordan, and I visited the facility earlier this week to hear how progress is moving towards completion by 2015 (see this story for more details).

Synchrotrons accelerate electrons to high energy and then make the particles generate flashes of X-rays as they travel around a circular ring. The X-rays are then sent down beamlines where they are used in a range of experiments from condensed-matter physics to biology.

However, a talk given by Shamin Kharrazi at the SESAME users’ meeting also outlined plans Iran has to build its very own synchrotron – the Iranian Light Source Facility (ILSF) – by 2020.

A conceptual design review for the 100 m diameter facility has just been completed and it is estimated that construction will begin by 2015.

Plans for the ILSF, like its Turkish equivalent, are still firmly on the drawing board, but researchers in Iran are hoping the facility will get funding. Kharrazi remarked that around seven years ago synchrotron radiation was not widely known to the authorities in Iran. Now, in a matter of only a few years, the country has plans for its own facility.

Indeed, over the past few years Iran has been building a community of those who could use their own national facility as well as SESAME. At times this has been painstaking and even involved researchers searching via Google for others around Iran who work with X-rays.

Kharrazi reassured SESAME users that Iran will still play an integral part in that project. “We think that by 2020 there will be enough demand for Iran to have its own synchrotron and also use SESAME,” says Kharrazi. “Just like France has the Soleil synchrotron as well as the ESRF.

A letter from space

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By Michael Banks

In a video interview with Physics World in June, Michael Schreiber, editor-in-chief of the journal EPL, marked the 25th anniversary of the publication by hoping that it would, one day, receive a submission from the International Space Station (ISS) (see video above).

We thought he was joking, but that day has now come. On 27 October Russian astronaut Sergey Aleksandrovich Volkov, who is currently aboard the ISS, submitted a paper via e-mail to EPL, which is jointly published by the Institute of Physics and the European Physical Society.

The paper was about measuring the speed of sound in a plasma under microgravity conditions. In an EPL editorial, Schreiber wrote that the journal has now left the confines of the globe “by publishing what is, I believe, the first manuscript ever submitted from beyond the globe, namely from the International Space Station”.

That all important caveat (“I believe”) proved its worth as it transpires that a paper was already submitted from the ISS in 2004 to the journal Radiology – published by the Radiological Society of North America.

Still, the EPL paper is perhaps the first physics-related article to be submitted from space. But Schreiber has even loftier ambitions: hoping for a paper from a space-trip to Mars to coincide with EPL’s golden jubilee in 2036.

Images from Turkey

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Institute of Accelerator Technologies, Ankara University
(Credit: Michael Banks)

By Michael Banks

If my recent travel (see here and here) to Ankara, Turkey, left you wanting to see more images from the trip, then fear no more.

On the Physics World Flickr page, you can now peruse selected images from the visit to the Institute of Accelerator Technologies at Ankara University, as well as the Proton Accelerator facility operated by the Turkish Atomic Energy Authority.

Look out for further coverage from my trip to Turkey in future issues of Physics World.