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Science Week: 5 days of interdisciplinary exchange at the Universe Cluster

The Excellence Cluster Universe has successfully hosted its first Science Week from 3 to 7 December 2007: Close to 150 visitors attended the conference, where 40 scientists including guests and fellows presented the highlights of their research. The talks covered all aspects of the Cluster’s seven research areas (RA) ranging from theoretical and experimental particle physics up to simulations and observational findings in astrophysics.

Scientists reported on their research providing insight in their current findings, e.g. in the fields of string theory and observational astronomy. One focus was set on the manifold experiments the Cluster participates in: Borexino for low-energy neutrino astronomy or the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN for tracking the Higgs boson and discovering supersymmetric particles. The GROND instrument is used for the examination of gamma-ray bursts – delivering data on remote, dying stars and on the birth of black holes. An important finding of Cluster scientists was that the neutrino wind is a crucial mechanism to drive core-collapse supernova explosions.

Another “hot topic” of the Science Week was the formation of heavy elements – and the reason why metals are difficult to detect in the early epoch of galaxy formation at redshifts higher than 3. Now there is evidence that the “missing metals” might be hidden in hot and cold gas around larger galaxies, as well as associated with smaller galaxies, too faint to be detected at present. Also, the Science Week saw an interesting approach to understand the physical origin of cosmic acceleration at high redshifts: Measurements of linear redshift-space distortions due to galaxy coherent motions can be used to measure the evolution of the growth rate of cosmic structures at different epochs which depends on the very nature of dark energy.

Abstracts and talks of the Science Week

Meeting of the Scientific Advisory Committee

The Science Week was also the setting for the first meeting of the Cluster’s Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC), an independent board serving to monitor and to evaluate scientific achievements according to the Cluster’s set goals. The Cluster is very pleased to have won outstanding physicists for this committee. The SAC is chaired by Wilfried Buchmüller from DESY in Germany, its further members are John Ellis (CERN, Switzerland), Felicitas Pauss (ETH Zürich, Switzerland), Jerry Ostriker (Princeton, USA), Gerard t’Hooft (Spinoza Institute Utrecht, Netherlands), Jim Truran (University of Chicago, USA) and Daniel Vignaud (Astroparticule et Cosmologie, Paris, France).

In his report to the SAC and the audience on 6 December, Cluster coordinator Stephan Paul talked about the Cluster’s advancements in the first year of its existence including staffing, investments and research. The Cluster’s administrative team was completed in August 2007, in the field of science two out of ten positions as Junior Research Group leader were occupied. Paul said he was confident that the vacancies could be filled within a short time, even with the recruitment process in public service being complicated and lengthy. Besides permanent staff the Cluster hosted 22 guests and two fellows. Major investments in 2007 included instruments for the modernization of the Wendelstein Observatory, the extension of the Underground Laboratory of the Technische Universität München and the installation of a high yield ultra-cold neutron source in FRM II.

Besides this general overview on the Excellence Cluster Universe, the coordinators of the seven research areas provided the SAC with details on the developments in their working groups and the current status of their research. The Science Week concluded with a closed SAC session on 7 December, followed by a discussion with both the Cluster coordinators and the RA coordinators. The SAC will provide its conclusions and recommendation within the following weeks.

General Meeting of the Cluster Members

The first general meeting of the members of the Excellence Cluster Universe convened during the Science Week as well. The meeting on 4 December included a review by Cluster coordinator Stephan Paul, followed by the vote on the Cluster’s constitution that was accepted unanimously. The members entitled to vote were then invited to ballot both Cluster and RA coordinators and their deputies. All candidates were elected with overwhelming majority.

Cluster coordinators and RA coordinators:

Cluster coordinator: Prof. Dr. Stephan Paul, TUM
Deputy Cluster coordinator: Prof. Dr. Andreas Burkert, LMU

RA A: Planck Scale & Strings
Coordinator: Prof. Dr. Dieter Lüst, LMU
Deputy coordinator: Dr. Peter Mayr, LMU

RA B: Matter & Forces
Coordinator: Prof. Dr. Dorothee Schaile, LMU
Deputy coordinator: Prof. Dr. Otmar Biebel, LMU

RA C: Particle Hierarchy
Coordinator: Prof. Dr. Andrzej Buras, TUM
Deputy coordinator: Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Hollik, MPP

RA D: Early Universe
Coordinator: Prof. Dr. Siegfried Bethke, MPP/TUM
Deputy coordinator: Dr. Georg Raffelt, MPP/LMU

RA E: Dark Universe
Coordinator: Prof. Dr. Hans Böhringer, LMU
Deputy coordinator: Dr. Stella Seitz, LMU

RA F: Black Holes
Coordinator: Prof. Dr. Günther Hasinger, MPE/TUM
Deputy coordinator: Prof. Dr. Lothar Oberauer, TUM

RA G: Heavy Elements
Coordinator: Prof. Dr. Reiner Krücken, TUM
Deputy coordinators:
Dr. Hans-Thomas Janka, MPA; Dr. Roland Diehl, MPE/TUM

by B. Wankerl

Technische Universitaet Muenchen
Exzellenzcluster Universe

Boltzmannstr. 2
D-85748 Garching

Tel. + 49 89 35831 - 7100
Fax + 49 89 3299 - 4002