n Saturday I headed to Oxford for a one-day meeting about big science in physics that was organised by the St Cross Centre for the History and Philosophy of Physics at Oxford University. Held in the Martin Wood Lecture theatre at the Department of Physics, the meeting covered the past, present and future of big science. The audience was made up of academics as well as the general public, with 200 people having registered to attend.
First up was Helge Kragh from the Niels Bohr Institute in Copenhagen, who gave a fascinating talk about what we define as big science and how that term has changed over the past century. Kragh’s focus was on the Manhattan atomic-bomb project and what followed regarding the development of large particle accelerators.
Continuing the particle-physics theme was Isabelle Wingerter-Seez from the Laboratoire d’Annecy-le-Vieux de Physique des Particules, which belongs to the French National Centre for Scientific Research, who spoke about the beginnings of CERN and the discovery of the Higgs boson in 2012 at the lab’s Large Hadron Collider.
Frank Close from Oxford University
Leading by example: going green in the lab
One common theme in questions from the audience (of which there were many) was how big-science facilities could become, well, more green. There are some facilities that are working towards this, notably the SESAME synchrotron in Jordan and the ESS, both of which use or will use renewable energy to power the accelerator complex.
But given that big science is getting bigger and ever-more important, energy sustainability needs to become a much greater consideration for those planning, designing and building these future facilities.
Want to read more?