Looking back, looking ahead: DPG Spring Meeting in Karlsruhe

March 04 - 08, 2024
KIT / Daryoush Djavadi

From March 4 to 8, 2024, more than 1000 particle physicists met at KIT to discuss recent topics in their field. The DPG working group on equal opportunities and the young DPG also participated in the conference program. Highlights of the conference were a festive session on the occasion of Herwig Schopper's 100th birthday, a symposium on the future of the research field and a public evening lecture on the secrets of the invisible universe.

The conference was opened by KIT Vice President and acting president Oliver Kraft, the local conference chair Ulrich Husemann from the Institute of Experimental Particle Physics at KIT (ETP) and the chairman of the Particle Physics Association Johannes Haller from the University of Hamburg. Highlights of the scientific program included plenary presentations on physics at the LHC (Marumi Kado, MPP Munich), the study of cosmic rays (Ralph Engel, KIT) and the search for dark matter (Teresa Marrodán, MPIK Heidelberg) as well as a series of invited talks on current research topics. In more than 800 contributions in the parallel sessions, young researchers in particular used the opportunity to present their results and to network.

The festive highlight of the conference program was a symposium on the occasion of the 100th birthday of Herwig Schopper, the founder of modern nuclear and particle physics in Karlsruhe and later director of DESY and CERN. After greetings from DPG Vice President Lutz Schröter, Oliver Kraft, and Thomas Müller from the ETP, former DESY director Albrecht Wagner gave the laudatory speech. Guido Drexlin, Dean of the KIT Department of Physics, awarded Herwig Schopper an honorary doctorate from KIT for his extraordinary services to particle physics and to physics in Karlsruhe. The birthday celebration also included a very special birthday cake, a "Happy Birthday" serenade for Herwig Schopper and a standing ovation for his acceptance speech in a packed Audimax. Kalle Randalu (Karlsruhe University of Music) and Miho Uchida (Badisches Staatstheater Karlsruhe) provided a festive setting for the celebration with their four-handed piano music by Mozart and Brahms. Finally, DESY research director Beate Heinemann gave an overview of the breakthroughs in particle physics over the past 100 years and a look into the future in her ceremonial lecture.

The future of particle and astroparticle physics was also the topic of a symposium with presentations on a future "Higgs boson factory" (Jürgen Reuter, DESY), future projects for the detection of gravitational waves (Katharina-Sophie Isleif, Helmut Schmidt University Hamburg) and sustainability in particle and astroparticle physics (Michael Düren, University of Giessen). The symposium was accompanied musically by the commissioned composition "Future Super Accelerator" by Hanna Sophie Lüke.

To kick off the conference, the young DPG (jDPG) organized a tutorial to introduce young participants to the topics of the conference. The jDPG's evening event on physicists outside academia was also very well received.

A visitor program took conference participants to KIT's Campus North, where they were able to visit unique research infrastructures such as the KATRIN experiment for measuring neutrino mass, the KARA and FLUTE particle accelerator facilities, the GridKa Tier 1 computing center, the Karlsruhe tritium laboratory, and clean rooms and production facilities for the international large-scale experiments CMS, Auger, and IceCube. The guided tours were fully booked within a few hours.

The conference's supporting program was also a complete success: the traditional welcome evening on Monday was kicked off by the Physikerchor Karlsruhe, before participants were able to maintain old friendships and make new ones over vegan food and chilled drinks. On Wednesday evening, the Physikertheater performed a play by Juri Soyfer in front of a full house. Last but not least, the jDPG pub crawl and the after-parties – organized by the ETP doctoral researchers themselves – brought the young participants together.

Sustainability was also a major topic at the Karlsruhe DPG meeting in terms of catering. Wherever possible, vegan organic products from local producers, regional fruit and regional drinks in reusable containers were offered. Offers of help for participants ranged from a "Care & Awareness Team" for any questions or need to talk, a call for respectful interaction with one another and a way to report incidents during the conference. These measures took place for the first time at a DPG Spring Meeting and could serve as a model for future conferences.