Centre International de Formation et de Recherche Avancées en Physique

The VIII International Pontecorvo Neutrino Physics School


VIII PONTECORVO Neutrino Physics School

The VIII International Pontecorvo Neutrino Physics School took place on September 1-10, 2019 in Sinaia, Romania, a beautiful mountain resort on the Prahova river valley. Following the tradition of one of the most prestigious international summer schools on the neutrino physics, the latest event was organized by the International Centre for Advanced Training and Research in Physics (Bucharest-Magurele, Romania) and in cooperation with the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research (Dubna, Russia), Institute of Experimental and Applied Physics (Czech Technical University in Prague, Czech Republic), Charles University in Prague (Czech Republic) and Comenius University in Bratislava (Slovakia). Funding for the School was provided by the grants of the JINR Directorate and the Plenipotentiaries of the Governments of the Czech Republic, Poland and Romania, by the programme of cooperation between JINR and Comenius University in Bratislava, IEAP CTU in Prague, and by European Regional Development Fund-Project No. CZ.02.1.01/0.0/0.0/16_013/0001733. The purpose of the school was to review the recent most important developments in neutrino physics and neutrino astrophysics as well as to attract students and young researchers to the field which, following the ground-breaking discovery of neutrino oscillations in 1998, is enjoying a period of rapid development and worldwide interest. The lectures covered a wide range of topics from neutrino physics, astroparticle physics and cosmology, and the growing number of participants proved that the study of neutrinos is becoming an increasingly more attractive research subject.

The series of Pontecorvo Schools is dedicated to the memory of the distinguished neutrino physicist Bruno Pontecorvo, whose outstanding pioneering scientific contributions shape modern neutrino physics and whose admirable human qualities forged a cordial relationship with many colleagues and friends in Dubna, where he worked for more than 40 years. The guest of honor of the School was, as usual, prof. Samoil Bilenky, a close collaborator of Bruno Pontecorvo and well known physicist, whose contributions to the theory of neutrino mixing, masses and oscillations can be found in many scientific papers of reference and modern textbooks on quantum field theory and neutrino physics. In addition, prof. Samoil Bilenky is one of the founders of the Pontecorvo School and permanent organizer, supervisor of the scientific program, and an excellent lecturer. During a special session dedicated to Bruno Pontecorvo,  Bilenky shared his vivid memories of this great physicist with the participants of the School and presented a short documentary which captures the details of life and activities of Bruno Pontecorvo in Italy, France and Dubna.

The School participants consisted of 77 students and young scientists from across the globe, 22 from JINR and Russia, 34 from other JINR Member States (Belarus, Czech Republic, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Ukraine), and 21 from other countries (China, Finland, France, Germany, India, Italy, Spain and United Kingdom). They attended the lectures of 25 renowned scientists covering neutrino topics as neutrino mixing and masses, neutrino oscillations and interactions of neutrinos with nuclei, neutrino detectors, sterile neutrinos, as well as topics related to them as double-beta-decay, gravitational waves, dark matter, leptogenesis, emphasizing both the theoretical and experimental aspects.  Members of the organizing committee Samoil Bilenky, Rupert Leitner,   Fedor Šimkovic and Alexander Olshevskiy succeeded to invite the most qualified specialists in their respective fields who delivered high quality lectures at a level accessible to the wide spectrum of the audience, ranging from undergraduate students through a large number of PhD students and postdocs to several professors. The students learned about the most challenging open problems in neutrino physics as well as the present and near-future opportunities to participate in the neutrino-physics related research, including the JINR neutrino program centered at the Dzhelepov Laboratory of Nuclear Problems and closely connected with research institutes from the Czech Republic, Poland, Romania, Russia and Slovakia.

True to its tradition, the format of the School encouraged active participation of all attendants during the lectures and discussions, as well as informal exchange of ideas with the lecturers in a friendly atmosphere in the meantime. The scientific program of the School would not have been complete without the evening exercise sessions during which the participants, under guidance of the top experts (Samoil Bilenky, Boris Kayser, Alexei Smirnov), had the opportunity to solve various interesting problems in neutrino physics related to the neutrino oscillation mechanism, the MSW effect on mixing parameters in matter and the Majorana nature of massive neutrinos, often in details beyond those of the standard textbooks. On the last day, there was a special session[CG1]  where participants who decided to present posters (40 of them)[CG2] [c3]  had the opportunity to have short talks about their work. Following a positive experience from the previous Schools, these students will contribute to the Proceedings of the Student Poster Session, which will be published by JINR Dubna in the beginning of 2020.

Sinaia, also known as “the Pearl of the Carpathians,” is a famous tourist destination located near the geographical center of Romania, near the historical border between the principalities of Transylvania and Wallachia and within walking distance of cultural heritage sites such as the Peles Castle. The venue of the School was Hotel International, a four-star complex where all participants were accommodated. The pleasant atmosphere of the School was underlined by the picturesque surroundings of the mountain resort Sinaia. During a day off, all participants could choose between two full-day excursions: either a guided tour of the Rasnov Fortress and of the Bran Castle famed for the myths and legends associated with Count Dracula, or a hiking trip in the Bucegi mountains up to 2000 m altitude. The rich social program was concluded by a farewell banquet including traditional Romanian cuisine, live music and dance.

There were very good impressions reported by the participants about the School. The students were very content about the quality of lectures given by outstanding lecturers, about the beautiful location, excellent venue, very professional organization, as well as about the conducive atmosphere of developing  good scientific and social relationships. From all the opinions expressed by the participants it turned out that the VIII Pontecorvo Neutrino Physics School was a great success. More information about the 2019 Pontecorvo School and previous Schools can be found at http://pontecorvosch.jinr.ru and http://theor.jinr.ru/~neutrino19.

The Pontecorvo School of 2019 organized in Sinaia, Romania continues the trend of expanding the list of venues where the School was held in the past: Dubna, Russia (1998), Alushta, Crimea (2003, 2007, 2010 and 2012), Horny Smokovec, Slovakia (2015), and Prague, Czech Republic (2017). Starting in 2007 an important role in the organization of all forthcoming Pontecorvo Schools has been played by Alexander Olshevskiy. Later, in 2015, Ivan Štekl and Fedor Šimkovic have joined actively the organization of the Schools, emphasizing their international character and increasing the mutual fruitful cooperation with the JINR member states. This internationalization of the Schools was developed further by the active participation of Romanian colleagues and by extending the organizing committee of the Schools with one of the prominent Italian neutrino physicists, Carlo Giunti. 

The highlight of the 2017 edition of the Pontecorvo School, organized by the Institute of Experimental and Applied Physics (Czech Technical University in Prague) and its director  Ivan Stekl, were two lectures on the discovery of gravitational waves given by Barry Barish (Caltech) who, together with together with R. Weiss and K. Thorne, was awarded the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics one month after the end of the School. 

Currently, the Pontecorvo School is proud of having two Nobel Prize winners among its lecturers: the 2015 Nobel Prize in Physics awarded for the discovery of neutrino oscillations, which show that neutrinos have mass, went to Takaaki Kajita (University of Tokyo) who talked about these results in his lecture on the physics of atmospheric neutrinos in Alushta (2007).

The work regarding the organization of the forthcoming Schools has already started. It has been decided that the IX Pontecorvo School will be held in Bratislava in 2021. On the special occasion of the 110th anniversary of the birthday of Bruno Pontecorvo in 2023, it was decided that the X Pontecorvo School will take place in Italy.

It is worth mentioning that the future success of the JINR Dubna significantly depends on its attraction of talented students, PhD students and young researchers.  In the frame of the University Center of the JINR, several education programs were gradually developed with an active role of Ivan Štekl and Stanislav Pakuliak, in particular short and long-term summer practices and summer schools. Later, these programs have been extended with a program of postdoc positions for outstanding early stage researchers at the level of the whole institute. The organization of the Pontecorvo School is an important contribution to the realization of the educational and scientific policy of the JINR, which is recognized as a well-known international research institute.     

Organizing Committee

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