PUSHING THE FRONTIERS OF KNOWLEDGE AT CERN: FROM FUNDAMENTAL RESEARCH TO MEDICAL APPLICATIONS

What our universe is made of? What is the structure of matter? To answer these questions, physicists, using more and more powerful accelerators, probe the infinitesimally small and study the structure of matter down to its tiniest constituents as well as their interactions. Today, this knowledge is summarized by the so-called “Standard Model” theory, which was validated, again, with the recent discovery at CERN of the last missing piece, the Higgs boson, and which led to the award of the 2013 Nobel prize. While fundamental research is the primary aim many spinoffs had a large impact on society. Many innovative developments of accelerators and detectors have found applications in medicine, for example PET or use of protons and ions for cancer therapy. This seminar will provide the opportunity to follow up these advances and their medical applications, guided by overview lectures animated by films, virtual video connections as well as hands-on experience with real data.


instructor: GIOTA FOKA, CERN

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Foka is a senior researcher at the European Laboratory for Particle Physics, CERN, the renown international physics research center in Switzerland, and the Center for Heavy Ion Research, GSI, Darmstadt, Germany, where she holds a permanent position since 2000. Her career also included a postdoctoral position at the University of Geneva and a Marie Curie fellowship in Frankfurt. Her research focuses on the study of a primordial state of matter, which, according to current theoretical knowledge, must have existed shortly after the Big Bang, and which is created in energetic particle collisions in powerful accelerators at CERN. Her PhD, mentored by one of the founders of this field of physics back in early 80s, had a large impact, as her results revealed first indications of an important predicted signature of such a state of matter, called quark-gluon plasma. She has a long list of publications in major peer-reviewed physics journals spanning from experiments articles and reports to few authors reviews, and she is editor of several volumes of conference proceedings. She has been one of the 50 authors invited to contribute to the special CERN edition commemorating its 50th anniversary. The last few years she has dedicated time and efforts on activities related to next generation facilities for medical research and therapy with ions, a field where both GSI and CERN played a crucial role pioneering hadron-therapy of cancer based on innovations developed primarily for research.