Calling all cosmophysicists
Apr 20, 2000
Over 100 astrophysicists, particle physicists and space scientists attended a workshop on fundamental physics in space organized by the European Space Agency (ESA) and CERN in Geneva last month. The aim of the meeting was to encourage greater interactions between the different communities with a view to generating proposals to test the fundamental laws of physics in space. Slides from the event are now available on the web.
Fundamental physics is a new activity for ESA, although it has ambitious plans to launch LISA, a set of three spacecraft that would detect gravitational waves. It is also considering proposals to test the equivalence of inertial mass and gravitational mass. The other main areas of overlap discussed at the meeting were cosmology, neutrinos, dark matter, cosmic rays and instrumentation.
The meeting was also intended to increase collaboration between CERN and ESA. Although the organizations exchange engineers and are collaborating on proposals for the European Grid - a new way of accessing computer power over the web - the director generals of both CERN and ESA felt that interactions between the two institutions could be increased.
Several speakers also expressed the view that Europe lagged behind the US in space-based fundamental research. On a lighter note, meeting organizer Maurice Jacob of CERN called on delegates to think of a suitable name for physicists who carry out fundamental research in space. Jacob suggested the name cosmophysicist.