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CERN Accelerating science

TH Winter School 2013

by Panos Charitos

The 2013 CERN Winter School on Supergravity, strings and gauge theory took place from 4th to 8th of February following a tradition that dates back to 2005. The School was originally organized by the European Thematic Network on “Constituents, Fundamental Forces and Symmetries of the Universe”. Since 2009, the school is yearly organized by the Theory Group of the PH Department and is funded by the CERN Theory Group and the Arnold Sommerfeld Center at  the Ludwig-Maximilians University of Munich.  Previous schools in this series were organized in 2005 at SISSA in Trieste and from 2006 to 2009 at. Other schools on similar topics were organized in the past by the former Research Training Network `The Quantum Structure of Spacetime and the Geometric Nature of Fundamental Interactions'.

 The main aim of the School is to discuss recent developments in high-energy theoretical physics and string theory. Every year the CERN Winter School brings together Ph.D. students and young postdoc researchers and provides them the opportunity to hear about exciting recent developments in the above fields.  Prof. Van Proeyen a member of the Institute for Theoretical Physics in KU Leuven, recalls that during one of the past workshops organized by the EC-RTN string network one of the students came up with the idea of organizing a school that would go a little bit deeper into certain subjects: “We tried it and both students and senior researchers were quite satisfied with the result”.

 The CERN Winter School is distinguished by the quality and international profile of its speakers. Neil Lambert, one of the co-organizers of the TH Winter School says: “Being hosted by CERN means that many researchers are happy to come from all over the world for a week to lecture (in recent years we have had European, American, Japanese and Indian speakers). In addition the fact that the school has been running for a long time adds to its reputation as a stable high-quality school that students can rely on year after year. Indeed, many students come more than once.”. The school also benefits from the CERN infrastructure (i.e. the large auditorium and the hostel) that keeps the cost down and makes it affordable to more students.

This year the TH-Winter School brought together more than one hundred participants from all over the world, without any geographical restrictions. The programme consisted of five series of pedagogical lectures, complemented by tutorial discussion sessions in the afternoons.  R. Bousso (Berkeley) lectured on “Entropy and Complementarity in Gravity”; G. Giudice (CERN) discussed “Higgs Physics in Light of the LHC and various ideas of extending the Standard Model”; A.Neitzke (Texas) reviewed recent progress in N=2 Gauge Theories; V.Rychkov (CERN&ENS Paris) lectured on “3D Ising Model and Conformal bootstrap”; finally S. Schafer-Nameki (King's College) introduced new “Tools for String Phenomenology”. All of these subjects are at the cutting edge of current research.

 The focus of these schools has always been on the core topics of the former European networks: unification theories, supergravity and string theory. Professor Stelle from Imperial College, who has been involved in the scientific committee for many years, notes that “these are very interesting topics in modern physics and we try to attract more students from our universities. Moreover, during the various conferences that we attend, we try to identify people who make major contributions to the field and invite them to lecture at the school”. Neil Lambert, one of the local organizers, notes that “The School is currently in a stable state with 100-150 participants, although it could easily accommodate more. Our main challenge is to guarantee the quality of the lectures and the students will follow.”


The local organizers of 2013 TH-Winter School were Neil Lambert and Boris Pioline while the members of the scientific committee were:  M. Gaberdiel, D. Luest, A. Sevrin, J. Simon, K. Stelle, S. Theisen, A. Uranga, A. Van Proeyen, E. Verlinde, J Walcher.


More information about the school and videos of the talks can be found on CERN indico pages: