PAC meeting draws eyes of the world to OR, SNS

The Particle Accelerator Conference, hosted by Oak Ridge National Laboratory's Spallation Neutron Source and Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility, has attracted nearly 1,400 scientists from over the world to Knoxville this week.

The conference, which covers new developments in all aspects of the science, technology and use of particle accelerators, kicked off Monday morning at the Knoxville Convention Center and will end Friday morning. It is the largest conference in the world addressing all aspects of accelerator science and technology and has previously been held in San Francisco, Dallas, Vancouver, New York, Chicago and Portland, Ore. This year marks the 21st biennial conference in the series that began in 1965.

Gov. Phil Bredesen, a physics graduate of Harvard University, delivered the conference's opening remarks and joined fellow attendees for lunch on Monday.

"He seemed to be in his element, really enjoying it," said ORNL spokesman Bill Cabage.

Cabage said that for scientists in the field of particle accelerator science, "this conference is their mecca."

"The poster sessions, where scientists post their findings for their colleagues, has had a lot of activity. There have been many presentations, and the vendors are extremely pleased with the turnout. There's a lot of energy between people — it's really been something to see."

PAC is organized under the joint auspices of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers through its Nuclear and Plasma Sciences Society, and the American Physical Society through its Division of Physics and Beams. According to the Knoxville Tourism and Sports Corporation, typically 50 percent of the conference's attendees are from the U.S., 25 percent are from Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States (former Soviet Union) and 25 percent are from Asia.

Cabage said that more than 200 attendees have decided to stay after the conference ends for a Saturday tour of the $1.4 billion SNS, the neutron science facility that will open next year.

"SNS is probably the biggest thing in particle science right now," he said.

This year's conference topics are associated with the "World Year of Physics"; the year 1905, when Albert Einstein published three papers that revolutionized the physical sciences.

For more information on the conference, visit www.sns.gov/pac05.