Out and About

Out and About
August 24, 2009

When we think of the role of a director, we often say that a director needs to be a promoter, a spokesman for the laboratory. I like to think that I have done my share of outreach during the past eleven months. I have given colloquia on the physics of Jefferson Lab. I have visited Richmond and Washington to talk to our representatives in government and their staffers. I have been seen several times at DOE HQ in Germantown and in the Forrestal Building in DC. Having visited the Italian Funding agency in Rome and the French IN2P3 in Paris, I am now serving on the Scientific Council of the latter. So, I get out and about a bit. But last month was something special; I spent two weeks in China.

“China?” you ask, “Why China?” Well, it turns out that Hall A has Jian-Ping Chen on staff and Haiyan Gao, a professor from Duke University, as a collaborator. Hall A leader Kees de Jager suggested that maybe I should visit China to encourage other institutions to Jefferson Lab. So, I agreed to discuss. Jian-Ping and Haiyan came to visit me, and one thing led to another and I agreed to a two-week visit in late July.

In fact, it turned out that Haiyan was the lead organizer of a conference of the “Overseas Chinese Physicists Association” hosted by Lanzhou University and by the Institute of Modern Physics, a Chinese Academy of Sciences accelerator laboratory. For his part, Jian-Ping organized a satellite workshop devoted to hadron physics and the Jefferson Lab 12 GeV Upgrade Project. I gave talks at both events. The big one had about 600 attendees, mostly from North America and extremely distinguished – a measure of the strong influence Chinese physicists already have on our science.

Lanzhou is more or less in the geographical center of China and like Denver is a mile above sea level, but the river is the Yellow River. I visited with Bitao Hu, who told me he was a post-doc in Hall C with Rolf Ent; he is now director of the Nuclear Physics Institute. I was introduced to IMP by Vice Director Hushan Xu and saw its accelerator complex and hadron therapy facility. It is clear that there is lots of potential for Lanzhou to participate in our physics program.

I also visited Shanghai. There, Xiangdong Ji of the University of Maryland and Jiao Tong University was my host. He is well known as a founder of the field of generalized parton distributions. Nearby is the Chinese Institute of Applied Physics, which houses the Shanghai Synchrotron Radiation Facility. This beautiful machine was built in an incredibly short time, making the director, Hongjie Xu (no relation to Hushan Xu I think), extremely proud of their achievement. Of course, with our FEL interests there is a natural potential for future collaboration.

In Beijing, my first meeting was at the Institute of High Energy Physics; I know the director, Hesheng Chen, from an earlier time. There is considerable interest, especially from BingSong Zou and his theory group, in our Jefferson Lab spectroscopy work. Their electron-positron collider has produced an enormous number of J/y particles whose decay is a rich source of meson and baryon spectroscopy information. Finally, I visited the China Institute of Atomic Energy, which has had a group, led by Xiaomei Li, collaborating at Jefferson Lab that has hopes of expanding in the future.

Now, China has a rich and colorful history. Judging by all I saw, it is enjoying an incredibly dynamic explosion, in building, in economy and in thinking. I was warned that in the 10 years since my previous visit, everything has changed. You can say that again! It is clear that in a year’s time before you visit, it will again be true that in the past year everything has changed. I am very happy to have Jefferson Lab as part of that country’s exploding participation in science.