Sunday, December 7, 2014

A tribute to a great young mind-our fallen hero Papa Aly Diop!

On the wee hours of Saturday 23rd August 2014, the day when the first batch of ASP 2014 participants were to fly out of Dakar, having participated in the highly successful (third) African School of Fundamental Physics, the hired UCAD bus pulled outside Mermoz- one of the ASP student guest houses to pick more students, en route to the airport. In their characteristic manner, the ever joyful group of students were all smiles laughing and chatting happily. Some in their mother tongue- for those that had their fellow countrymen- others mainly in english, though one would not miss some foreign accents, if not arabic then definitely french. Seated on the second back row on the left inside the bus, I thought that I saw my good friend the dark-skinned ever smiling (late) Papa Aly Diop stand at the bus door as if to get inside, but left into the guest house when the bus left. If I could recollect well, his face seemed a bit dull and he looked as if something was disturbing him. Little could one guess that what would later befell him on that fateful day, would happen.

Though it has taken me many days to post this message, my heart still feels cold when I remember the untimely demise of our good friend. I wish I could travel back to Dakar and convey my sincere condolences to his family and friends, maybe one day I will. I could not believe it, and neither can I do it today! This is the message that I have longed to deliver to our ASP 2014 hero, who passed on while doing what he loved most- helping others..

Rest in Peace Papa, we miss you!

Geoffrey O. Okeng'o

Monday, October 27, 2014

Some Memories of Grid Computing at ASP2014

This is Dick Greenwood with an embarrassingly late ASP2014 blog entry. 

It was my great pleasure to participate in ASP2014 in the “Grid Computing” part of the school.
Grid computing was added as a component of the ASP in Ghana two years ago and we are glad to see that it has become a valuable addition to the school program.  As in 2012, my institution, Louisiana Tech University,joined with other DOSAR institutions UT-Arlington (UTA), the University of Oklahoma (OU), the University of Kansas (KU), and the Open Science Grid (OSG), to put together exercises for ASP2014.  From those institutions, Jae Yu (UTA), Julia Gray (KU),Horst Severini (OU) and Rob Quick and Kyle Gross of the OSG, in collaboration with our Dakar hosts,  deserve a lot of credit and thanks for planning the logistics of the 2014 grid program.

Jae kicked the program off with a rousing and entertaining introductory talk that described the necessity of the grid to meet the challenging computing demands of present day experimentation at the LHC.  

Next, overview talks about high throughput computing were given by Rob, followed by great hands-on tutorials by Rob, Kyle and Horst.

Then, I had my turn. I gave a lecture/tutorial  that applied an actual HEP analysis of Z boson decays. This talk/tutorial had been originally developed by Pat Skubic and Chris Walker of OU.  I added to it actual data taken with the ATLAS detector that had been very kindly sent to me by Heather Gray.  
With this data, we (the students and I) actually were able to produce the Z mass peak with ROOT.  That was so great!!  During this tutorial, Jae walked around the room and made sure that each student actually did  find the Z mass…fantastic!!

Well, that was the high point of ASP2014 for me.  But I must say that I really enjoyed meeting and socializing with many of the students, and many of the lecturers as well.

The entire trip was a wonderful experience for me.  Thanks everybody!  

Best wishes,

Saturday, August 23, 2014

a glimpse

It was such a remarkable experience, being with scientists of great mind. These three weeks have come to an abrupt end, ... like in a tinkle of an eye. The scientific skills that we have acquired and the inspiration felt has encouraged us to move forward in our fields.     

Hmmmmm......what more can i say?, it was full of excitement, meeting wonderful people and relating with them as if we have known each other for a long time....  i think the pictures can give you a little glimpse of it all....

during the coffee break

the ever smiling faces...

at reserve de Bandia
the goree island trip

at reserve de Bandia

at reserve de Bandia

 goree,,when the return was almost

surveying goree
coffee break

at coffee break

some lovely  smiling faces

during break
goree trip

hmmmm....they were all excited 

the excitement at goree

Friday, August 22, 2014

Last day

We have come to the end of the school and the thing that's breaking my heart the most is that I wont be able to post pictures :(... Such a cry baby! Anyway I think I gave everyone their pictures and if I didn't then please send me a mail. They will get to you, but they'll take a while since I'd have to sort them first!

Wow what an incredible three weeks!! Getting to know everyone(students mostly) has been the most exciting part of this school. Mostly because as youth we are so full of ideas and so much zeal! It's always very inspiring to be surrounded by this much brain activity, so many ideas and so many hard questions concerning the future of this continent. Even though it wasn't perhaps an obvious objective of the school, I loved the fact that more than a sharing of the knowledge of science, it was about wanting to make science more easily accessible to an African child. The school is by no means a sustainable way of making this happen. It is only the beginning, an inception of an idea. I really hope that this is what all of us will take away... It was really awesome to be taught by the best in the fields, and we really appreciate the time that all the lecturers and tutors/helpers took to come here and share their knowledge. To be here in the heat (humidity or wetness as Mathieu would call it), endless hours, dosing off faces, temperamental network etc. takes a lot of compassion and we are truly grateful. But I really hope that something was stirred up in all of us, to want to come back to the school as the experts, the teachers, the organisers and tutors. Or to perhaps start something similar and to push our governments to take action and invest in science and to inspire in us a desire to not be perpetual end users! To want to start great experiments here in Africa and to go some place else to share our knowledge! ( I promise that when I started writing I wasn't going for deep :) but I'm pretty sure that you you spent half an hour with me you aren't surprised. I am sorry.)

Right, back to the lighter side of life!
Even though there were at times a language barrier, there were always people who were willing to translate, yay! Thank you. I'm pretty sure every English speaker learnt some French and vise versa! Some Wolof and Arabic too! There were many funny moments and the banquet video will attest to that! And whoever thought that scientist are just nerdy( the negative connotation Phil and Takong) and boring has clearly never hung out with this bunch!

There are of course those special people who will just make it hard for you to forget them! E.g If I mention Clementine what do you think of? Yes... The girl in front of ALL the cameras! The saying would go something like, "where's there's a camera there's .... CLEMENTINE!!" That's right! Mr. ever so friendly... Ulrich, and oh so many underdogs!! Gosh guys, it was really a great pleasure to meet all of you!

So like not writing your name here doesn't mean you didn't stand out, I swear I have something awesome to say about all of you! The post would just get too long :( so just invite me on facebook or something!

Peace!Obviously I'm on the right! Photo credit goes to Gloria!
Bye mes amis! Good luck with all your endevours forwards! I hope the future of our continent( The world) has been drastically changed since the beginning of the school! Here's to the forum of the advancement of Africa!( or something like that :)! 

Six young women scientists at ASP 2014 to take out for lunch

By Geoffrey Okeng'o


With the third edition of the African School of Fundamental Physics 2014 coming to an end in just two days, and the over 60 brightest young African students and the distinguished invited lecturers planning to return to their home institutions, there were, in this year's school, some outstanding young women scientists who stood out and are worth taking out for lunch! Here are the best six:

  1. Esmeralda YITAMBEN
Dr Esmeralda Yitamben- Cameroon. Photo by Rotondwa Mudau.
Dr Esmeralda YITAMBEN, a Cameroonian by birth, is an outstanding young female researcher attached to the Photonic Microsystem Technologies at Sandia National Laboratories, United States Department of Energy. Before moving to the Sandia National Laboratories, the young and jovial University of Washington Physics and nanotechnology PhD graduate was, a distinguished postdoctoral fellow at the Center for Nanoscale materials at Argonne in the United States, during which time she served as the treasurer of the African American Black Club and participated actively in mentoring programs aimed at supporting young college and high school girls to pursue science. The humble, bubbly and happy-faced young researcher- the face of nanotechnology at the ASP 2014- captivated the ASP participants by her insightful lectures on nanotechnology. According to her, nanotechnology- the science and engineering involved in the design, synthesis, characterization and application of materials and devices with dimensions of about 1-100 nanometers (1 nanometer= 1 billionth of a meter or 1/1000000000 meters), is one of the most important, and exciting leading fields in physics, chemistry, biology and engineering that offer much promise in future technological advances and breakthroughs in a wide range of applications. She is the first person you should ensure to take out for lunch.
  1. Julia GRAY

Dr Julia Gray- U

The passionate and friendly strong-voiced postdoctoral researcher at the University of Kansas in the United States; a Stony Brook University 2012 PhD graduate, a former nominee of the AAAS Early Career Award for Public Engagement with Science in 2013, and a CERN Advisory Panel member for UNESCOSOC Youth Forum (, comes second in this list. Dr Julia Gray's organizing skills were quite evident, being a key brain behind the success of ASP 2014 , having played a similar role to make ASP 2012 at Kumasi, Ghana a success. Interested in travelling, wine testing, yoga, running, hiking and music, and with a passion to learn new cultures from different perspectives, Dr Gray is definitely the kind of person you would consider going out for lunch with to learn more about the driving force behind her motivation.

Ms Amel Alihassan- Sudan. Photo by Rotondwa Mudau.
Hailing from Sudan and a former AIMS-Senegal graduate, meeting Ms Amel for the first time radiates a contagious air of ease and elegance complete with a genuine smile and a firm voice. This young Sudanese beauty makes it to this list due to her outgoing nature and remarkable confidence as evidenced by her many prodding questions to the ASP 2014 lecturers. This she did with razor sharp determination-without minding about her residual 'arabic' accent given that English is not her first language. She holds a teaching assistant post in physics at the Nile College in Sudan and attributes this to motivation from one of her professors at home who encouraged her from a tender age. She is the author of a poster paper titled “Entanglement” at the ASP 2014 (look out for her poster!). Her MSc work involves investigating violation of the “Bell's inequality” (John Bell 1964)- existence of two systems whose knowledge of one provides a complete description of other. She argues that such a system would violate special relativity and hence the theory of quantum mechanics. Being young, bright, outgoing, determined and with a keen interest to pursue a PhD in any of the modern field of physics, Amel is definitely a young woman you would strongly consider to go out for lunch with.

4. Suzan BVUMBI
Dr Suzan Bvumbi- South Africa
Dr Suzan Bvumbi, a young female physicist lecturing at the University of Johannesburg in South Africa is not your typical shy kind of person. The first thing to notice when you first meet her is her charming nature and commanding voice, complete with an admirable confidence in explaining things. A determined and motivated young scientist, Suzan's charisma was quite evident during her 20 minutes presentation at the ASP 2014. Her extensive knowledge and excellence in the male-dominated discipline of nuclear particle physics, complemented by her passion to nurture and train future african scientists makes her a very ideal person to go out for lunch with. Be quick, get an appointment!

Ms Faten Chaabane- Tunisia
Ms Faten Chaabane may have been probably hard to notice by some (I'm not sure how many of you took note of her) in the ASP 2014. The 21 year old second-year undergraduate physics student from the University of Tunis El Manar, was one of the youngest participants at the ASP 2014 and thanks to Dr Ketevi and the organizers for giving her an opportunity to participate! Its not her contagious smile and soft voice or likeable nature that makes her get it into this list, but her enthusiasm with physics that saw her prepare a poster in a subject she's yet even to learn in college-Quantum Mechanics. She deserves an applause! Her poster on investigating the foundations of Quantum Mechanics-is in my opinion- a remarkable job for a second-year undergraduate student. Although she missed out from the best three posters compiled by the judges, taking her out for lunch will definitely tell you more about her enthusiasm with physics and her big dreams for the future.

6. Gloria SARKI
Ms Gloria Sarki- Nigeria. Photo by Rotondwa Mudau.
The Nigerian-born beauty who in this year's ASP won the best poster award- among the top three- is by no means your ordinary lady. Her winning poster titled “Investigating along-track decomposition methods in Diffusion Tensor Imaging (DTI)-based Tractography” was an excellent piece of work that deserved the recognition. The smart, jovial and happy-faced former AIMS-SENEGAL graduate of the 2013 class, in her MSc work investigated two novel techniques of decomposing information transmitters in the human brain-called neurons- in order to study their connection properties, and thus help diagnosis damages to the brain resulting from accidents and aging- for example. To learn more about her interesting research that falls in the area of medical physics, arrange to hook up with her and go for lunch.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Physics connect people vers la fin...

C'est vendredi, la nuit, le dernier jour de l'ASP.
Pendant trois semaines de cours intenses, nous tendons vers la fin. Demain matin, nous irons prendre le déjeuner puis suivre les cours, pendant ces trois semaines, la capitale de la physique s'est trouvé à Dakar au Sénégal.
Je félicite le comité de l'ASP 2014 pour la selection de ces 69 étudiants africains et d'ailleurs ( Iran et USA), ces félicitations ne se limitent pas seulement à leurs capacités intellectuelles ( qualités qui ne sont meme pas à remettre en cause) mais surtout à leurs capacités sociales, oui, pendant ces trois semaines nous avons intérragit scientifiquement et amicalement.
Je sens déjà la difficulté de la séparation, nous avons appris de vivre d'ensemble de nous connaitre de nous cottoyer, de parler, de rire ensemble,... c'est comme ça rien n'est éternel...mais nous ramenerons chacun une expérience de vie communautaire, d'échange scientifique.

Pendant ces trois semaines, Le comité de l'ASP nous a concocté un excellent cocktail de professeurs et de chercheurs excellents dans leurs domaines, spécialement, j'ai apprécié les interventions des théoriciens tels que Bobby Acharya, John Ellis, Christophe Englert, Matthieu de Naurois, Ababacar Ndar,... et de certains chercheurs expérimentalistes et sur les outils informatiques; Linux Boot Camp, Monte-Carlo, Nuclear Physics, Supersymmetry,.... Les lectures, en générales ont été bonnes. Entre les mains de ces experts, nos sens scientifiques ont été titillés dans tous les sens, permettez-moi la tautologie.
Mes remerciements s'adressent au comité organisateur de l'ASP 2014; au Dr Ketevi, Pr Oumar Ka, Pr Steve Muanza, Pr Bobby Acharya,...à Youssou Gning, pour sa disponibilité, son accueil, pour tout merci. Merci au comité organisateur local, merci à notre restaurateur pour tous les sacrifices, merci.
Merci à tous mes collègues, physiciens pour leur indulgence, pour leur sociabilité, pour leur dévouement,... tout ce que je vous demanderai c'est de garder le contact, tout ce que je vous souhaiterai, c'est le succès dans toutes vos entreprises.
Je ne saurai m’arrêter ici sans remercier mes collègues sénégalais pour leur accueil émouvant et convivial; Diallo, Moussa Touré,...

Je ne saurai oublier mon roommate Yaé Gaba Olatoundji Kowowale Ulrich, Un clever guy, nos échanges scientifique, nos discussions m'ont aidé dans mon assimilation et Marzieh Bahmani, nos échanges en Physique théorique m'ont aidé et m'aideront dans mes recherches, nos échanges sur les interactions sociales m'aideront à devenir une meilleure personne. On oublie pas Philippo, le taciturne qui ne parle qu'avec des équations.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Un week-end inoubliable

Le samedi était un jour inoubliable. Après un déjeuner sénégalais très riche en gout et très savoureux,  tous les étudiants se sont rassemblés pour prendre des photos et échanger les idées dans une ambiance amicale. 
Ensuite, nous étions tous réunis dans la salle de conférence, étudiants et comité d'organisation, en présence des  personalitès de très haut niveau intellectuel et de grand impact dans le domaine des sciences. C'était l'occasion idéale  pour échanger les savoirs, s'exprimer librement et surtout entendre le discours du M.Touré le sécrétaire général  de l'UIT avec ses mots inspirants qui révélent beaucoup de confiance en les jeunes scientifiques africains. J'espère que 
nous serons tous à la hauteur de nos promesses et nos engagements envers notre cher continent Africain.  
A la fin de cette merveilleuse rencontre, tout le monde s'est dirigé vers un hôtel prestigieux pour passer ensemble  une soirée inoubliable dans un cadre charmant. 
Une autre merveilleuse nuit  qui s'est terminée à Dakar pour laisser la place à un nouveau jour bien attendu par tout les  participants car il porte beaucoup de surprises.

Dimanche d'une très bonne heure, on a pris le bus pour se diriger vers le 
monument de la renaissance africaine qui est un groupe monumental de 52 mètres en bronze et cuivre à Ouakam sur  l'une des deux collines volcaniques coniques qui surplombent la capitale sénégalaise.
Le monument représente un couple et son enfant, dressés vers le ciel. Il s'agit de montrer au travers cette famille   « une Afrique sortant des entrailles de la terre, quittant l'obscurantisme pour aller vers la lumière ».
Notre deuxième destination était l'île de Gorée qui est plantée dans l'azur profond de l'océan Atlantique,  à quelques encablures de Dakar. L’île pendant plusieurs siècles fut une place forte dans la guerre  avec une  activité commerciale considérable. La visite de l'île s’'effectue à pied évidemment et heureusement il n’y a  pas de véhicule.La visite de la Maison des Esclaves était incontournable car l'ile a joué un rôle majeur dans la traite  des esclaves en vendant sans pitié des hommes et des femmes et même des enfants aux appétits féroces de quelques  commerçants européens. L'ile est le lieu idéal pour à la fois découvrir le passé d'une ile  petite en taille  mais très riche en histoire et jouir de paysages naturels rares et surprenants. Cette ile reste toujours un témoignage 
de la cruauté de l'homme et du manque d'humanité et comme a dit le guide touristique qui est un des habitants natives de  l’île " on pardonne mais on n'oubliera jamais ".  


I am Kossi from Togo one the sixty participants to the  African School of Fundamental Physics and its Applications (ASP2014) school organized at UCAD . I will say I am very glad to meet this experienced of lecturers (From CERN, Fermilab, Jefferson Lab and Universities) sharing their research work and experiences with all the young African scientists from sixteen African countries.

We are feeding our brain and improving our skills with wonderful presentations, workshops, colloquium and many scientific activities. Aside  the theoretical part, we have experimental sections: tutorials on Geant4 and Root and also PSI Lab practices.
Here are some pictures

This is the amazing part of the school: PSI Lab
In fact PSI Lab is UCAD II-Restaurant which offered us interesting and exciting meal during all our stay in Senegal.   In order to not talk a lot, let us have a look on pictures below.


Let talk about the LHC:

Find  out the elementary particles?

Here are some indications for you :
1- Accelerate two particles (psi1 := ?)  and (psi2:=?)
2- Get the highest possible cross-section (psi3 := ?)
3- Good detector (psi4 := ?) to gather the data for analysis.
4- Powerful computer (psi5 := ?) to gather your data
5 – A software to simulate the data (psi6=?)                

I suggest that
          psi1 := meal
          psi2 := mounth
          psi3 := area of your mounth
          psi4 := tongue
          psi5 := brain

          psi6 := digestive system
            What do you think about that?

The answer is not too difficult,  Bobby, Christoph, Mathieu, and John Ellis  can explain it to you but the LHC of CERN can show it easily.

Now let us consider the next picture.

 Can you see a particle tunneling here?

I am sure your answer is no. You are right you need a STM.

  Remember “Nanotechnology” (Esmeralda)

Really, we enjoyed not only the presentations but also those delicious and various Senegalese meals


     . . . uploading

Science meets fun at ASP 2014 in Dakar

By Geoffrey Okeng'o

Prof John Ellis and Geoffrey Okeng'o at ASP 2014 in Dakar, Senegal

Over the world over, scientists are known to be a rather 'queer' breed. They come in all flavors- from the quiet and reserved type to ever charming and outgoing crop able to sustain a `live' audience even in a three hour after-lunch technical presentation.They (scientists)- well most of the time- never always disappoint and the second week of the ASP Senegal was no exception!

The week began on a rather laid back note, being a kind of anti-climax to the electrifying first week with theoretical lectures by Bobby-Christoph-Mathieu-John Ellis et. al. And as if not to disappoint, the monday morning lecturers; Dr Goerlach Ulrich and Dr Campanelli Mario, set the pace for what turned out to be an academically enriching and interesting week. Of course its hard not to give a thumps up to Dr Ketevi Assamagan for his animated “introduction to statistical analysis” lecture that kept everybody awake and alive on a hot monday afternoon, attracting many questions from the students.

Then came the most interesting day of the second week of the school. It was on saturday 16th 2014- the forum and outreach day held at the UCAD auditorium and graced by an evening dinner courtesy of the ministry of education. Early in the day after breakfast and before beginning of the forum and outreach day, I had the pleasure to go through the poster section in order to sample on what the over 60 bright young people attending ASP 2014 had to offer about their research. To say that I was quite impressed is an understatement. From the showcase of high calibre research spanning modern research disciplines such as material science, medical physics and nanotechnology, to highly complex topics in applied quantum mechanics, applied mathematics, cosmology and particle physics; this year's students indeed relayed one strong message- that Africa is home to very bright and talented young minds! Given opportunity, these young brains posses exactly what Africa needs to grow her scientific niche moving forward. Thanks to programs such as the ASP!

The outreach and forum day began in ernest with opening remarks from Prof Oumar Ka, the chair of the local steering committee and convener of this year's school, followed by representatives from the international ASP 2014 steering committee Dr Darve Christine and Ketevi Assamagan. Then followed presentations from Dr Toure Hamadoun on ICT developments in Africa, Eric Guedegbe on digital libraries as collaborative platform, Dr Julia Gray on data acquisition and grid computing in Africa, Dr Landua Rolf on the CERN model and outreach and an outstanding presentation from Dr Herman White on the road map for discoveries for Africa. Finally, it was time for a round-table with questions and discussion followed by the much awaited event for the day- the DINNER.

So, with everybody on board the UCAD bus and an excellent Youssou having checked that nobody was left behind, it was time for the wheels to roll. It took what looked like a 30-40 mins ride to arrive at the dinner hotel after which the fun began! In their characteristic manner, the students had a frenzy with cameras flashing non-stop, people shifting from one position to the other getting one shot or another. Lecturers 'accepting' to take many (many) photos and everybody feeling at ease.

The atmosphere outside the hotel was very refreshing and the direct view of the beach from hotel extremely spectacular. The students and lecturers interacted with much ease with giggles, laughter, hugs, photos and a walk here or there consuming the over an hour duration before the dinner began. The food was excellent and despite wine missing from the menu (some wished for it!), the coca cola, fanta, and sprite soft drinks were in generous abundance. Then there was the soft background music that gradually grew louder (well, that's the truth because nobody I know was on anything). Then true to the saying that hard work without play makes jack a dull boy, time came for the big jig. Hips were shaken, legs tossed, fingers pressed, heads twisted and yes, it was all fun! If you still doubt that scientists also have fun, please stay tuned for the explosive video!!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Week 2: Experimental Physics !

In the second week the focus moved from theoretical to experimental physics. I was lucky enough to participate in this second week in two ways: both in helping to design the lecture program and contributing two lectures. We had lectures on a wide range of topics from statistical techniques, through b-physics to neutrinos and physics beyond the Standard Model. It was definitely exciting seeing the program that we had designed coming to life!

I gave two sets of the lectures: the first introduced the students to some of the wide range of Standard Model physics measurements made at hadron colliders, particularly by ATLAS and CMS.  I always take particular pleasure in opportunities to explain to students how the discovery of the Higgs boson actually happened. We also discussed in some detail about exactly we go about measuring a cross-section plus the challenges needed to make a difficult measurement like the mass of the W boson.

The second set of lectures proved to be somewhat more challenging. The idea was to run a set of ROOT tutorials for the students to give them a flavour of how this program is used for data analysis. The slight difficulty that we encountered was trying to get ROOT set up on the computers used by the students. Coupled with limitations to download speed and processing power, we ended up needing to postpone the tutorials until late in the week. Luckily many of the other lecturers were able to be extremely flexible and willing to move their lectures with very little notice ! However, in the end, all came together and the students and I had a lot of fun, and quite a few laughs, as we explored histograms, trees and files.

We definitely saw a large benefit from the Linux bootcamp that had been held during the first week of the school. As a result, the students were already quite familiar with the Linux operating system and able to use terminals with confidence. This meant that we were far more quickly able to get started with the ROOT tutorials than in previous iterations of the school. Definitely something to be repeated!

One of my favourite aspects of these schools are the lunch breaks. I try to sit down more or less and random to get the opportunity to meet and chat to as many different students as possible. Sometimes the conversations are in English, sometimes in French and most often in a mixture of languages. This time I manage have to have lunch with students from Nigeria, Ghana, Madagascar, Iran, Morocco and South Africa amongst many others and enjoyed many interesting conversations.

The second week also included a poster session. I managed to have a look at about 15 of the posters and I was really impressed by the quality of both the research and the posters that were presented. It was also nice to take a break from lecturing and instead be the one learning as the students explained their research to me. The posters ranged in topics from condensed matter physics to applications of Geant4 and searches for new states decaying to pairs of Higgs bosons. Certainly very impressive!

On Friday evening I was very sad to be leaving the school and taking the plane back to Europe. It was a great pleasure to participate, yet again, in this wonderful school, which brings together students studying physics, in interesting locations throughout Africa.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Live blogging the Forum Outreach Day

We are live blogging the Forum Outreach Day! See here for the official agenda and talks as you follow along:

14:00 Students and officials assemble in the conference room. There is excitement in the air and many good conversation beginning already. Representatives from CERN and Fermilab are speaking along with representatives from the UCAD digital library project and distinguished Senegalese professors.

14:20 Prof. Oumar Ka welcomes our distinguished panel - Sectrary General of ITU Touré, Educational Outreach Coordinator for CERN Dr. Landua. Prof. Wague

14:30 Warm opening remarks from Dr. Touré to our “distinguished students”. ITU, the oldest UN organization, sponsored 10 students for this year’s school from LDC - 5 women and 5 men, and Dr. Touré gives an inspiring message to all of us. “You cannot meet the Millennium Development goals in commerce and education without the internet and e-jobs.” Dr. Wague was Dr. Touré’s mentor - Africans teaching Africans. We need IT to help with everything from food distribution to research and development. “Even the sky is not the limit”.  He encourages the alumni of this program to in turn mentor the next students coming up so that we can grow the network and all grow.

14:45 Our bilingual conference continues with the head of telecommunications from UCAD giving encouraging words on the importance of applications of science.

14:50 Christine Darve, one of the founders of ASP, speaks about the mission of the school to use LHC physics as an example for African scientists to anticipate the future of physics. Christine, along with John Ellis, Ketevi Assamagan, Bobby Achymanga, and Steve Muanza, started the school in 2010 in South Africa with initially 15 institutes giving support which as grown considerably over the years. Financial support is provided in full to 50-60 students each year. We take students from a broad base of education levels and backgrounds, with the largest group coming from a Theoretical Particle Physics background. Beyond the classroom, the students are encouraged to network, are provided additional education materials, and are given the chance to present their research work

The Forum Day works to connect the students to the policy makers.

15:05 Ketevi thanks Christine and commends the work of the organizing committees in edition to their teaching and research responsibilities. We use our sponsors’ support mainly for the students and ask the lecturer’s to find their own funding, and he encourages everyone that has participated to give feedback to better target and form the school to reach our goals of educating students in HEP and nuclear physics. Our students are a select group out of 328 applications received.

He then welcomed our 10 ITU supported students to meet with Touré (9 are from LDC’s):
5 male students: Ouedraogo (Burkina Faso), Nounahon (Benin), Sashingwa Burundi, Worku Ethiopia, and Amouzouvi (Togo)
5 female students: Sarki (Nigeria), Rasoarijafy (Madagascar), Amadou (Niger), Abimana (Rwanda), Yousif (Sudan)

The dedication organization committee was recognized with a loud round of applause.

15:20 Eric Guedebe introduces the digital library project, starting as a joint venture of CERN and UNESCO and evolving to a CERN-ADLSN (African Digital Library Support Network) project

Had schools in Rwanda 2009, Morocco 2010, Senegal 2011, and school initiated in Ghana in 2012 rescheduled to 2015.

CERN provides technical assistance and knowledge, ADLSN provides local support and partners.

8 countries hosting library access together. Document server has +18,900 records.

The digital library attracts visitors from all over the world, but especially Africa. Most users get correct info within 3-4 clicks. 

Can find a video demonstrating what the software can do at

15:45 I give my talk on DOSAR, OSG, and the Grid. Sign up for DOSAR news and meetings at

16:05 Dr. Landau on CERN and Education, and how CERN works to get together the general public, teachers and students.

CERN engages the public with nearly 100,000 visitors a year on guided tours of the old synchrotron, the computing center, and the control rooms. There is also a permanent exhibition in the Globe called “Universe of Particles”.

CERN tries to reach all students - but this is an impossible task. So CERN is active in training teachers as ambassadors. They are our “CERN role models” for their 13-15 year old students.

CERN trains 7,000 teachers a year from 77 countries - this includes 74 teachers from 13 countries in Africa: Morocco, Guinea Bissau, Ghana, Cameroon, Kenya, Uganda, Angola, Mozambique, Rwanda, South Africa

CERN also hosts “Virtual Visits” via Google Hangouts with real CERN scientists, and they provide teaching materials for classrooms.

CERN also makes available great animations for a qualitative view into the work at CERN.

16:30 Short break before last presentation and discussion

16:50 Herman White representing Fermilab with a “Roadmap for Discoveries for Africa”

He will talk about specific examples of investments to make now to reap benefits in the future - the kinds of applied and basic research needed with an idea of the time needed for discoveries.

Applied problems are specific and well defined, such as extracting oil from shale. Can benefit from industry support.

Fundamental research does not have such a true focus but investigates the basic nature of our world. Benefits mostly from societal funding.

Discovery leads to an understanding of phenomena for the first time but often also leads to more questions. Can help make connections among different fields.

The long term benefits of fundamental research is that it drives future technologies, economic growth, and innovation that leads to prosperity.

In Europe, physics generated 15% of total turnover and 13% of overall employment. It showed a 38% return on investment with 1.3 billion Swiss Francs earned in ~20 years.

National labs are magnets for growth and capacity building. Suggest a structure like CERN and SESAME as a model fro intergovernmental projects in Africa. Can also use the US national lab model of aiming to take advantage of high density population area to choose a location within Africa for a lab.

The Web was created for international collaboration - so what may come out of collaborations in Africa? Two possible examples

A Free Electron Laser (FEL) from an accelerator light source at SLAC was used to study the parasite responsible for sleeping sickness which effects 60 million people in Africa.

The Square Kilometer Array (SKA) is a large scale facility in SA with remote stations throughout the continent in countries such as Namibia, Mozambique, Madagascar, and Ghana.

17:15 Discussion session opens

Discussion opens with Herman White’s talk

Prof. Wague speaks on the possibility for an African Light Source. The African Laser and Optical Physics Network includes extra-African members. Capacity building is only one part, but collaboration is also important. From this started the African Laser Center (ALC) in South Africa. Up until now, unfortunately, only South Africa has made a contribution to financial support. The African Physical Society and the African Optics, Photonics, and Material Society offer other possible places of support. 2015 is the International Year of Light; should push to have a workshop and come up with a plan for the African Light Source, but need support of governments. The African School of Physics is a good way of spreading the news of such a project through the student ambassadors for their home institutions.

Dr. Landau wants to support the importance of a large African project such as one involving an accelerator. It will build capacity just in the act of building the facility, and CERN would support such an effort with training.

Eric Guedebe wants to emphasize the role e-learning can play in helping to build expertise coupled with virtual reality labs, especially when you have limited resources. He asks which of the students have had the opportunity to go to a lab like CERN or Fermilab. Only 3 students raise their hands. So e-resources can provide opportunities students may not otherwise have.

18:15 Discussions session ends, and students, panelists, and lecturers head to the banquet and reception.

Friday, August 15, 2014


I am confident that the knowledge and skills we shall acquire for this school will be crucial as we work to realize ours aspirations. According to this week, I have been happy to see some fundamental connections between formal theoritical physics and applied physics.

Certainly we have seen a lot of things but I just want to talk about big bang theory and Inflation in theory.

-Big Bang theory 

In one split second there was the Big Bang, and since then, most of Scientists said, nothing is as before. They back in time and observe the space to figure out what the big bang and what that spawned the phenomenon that gave birth to the universe and time.
The Big Bang is not over, we're still living it since the universe is still expanding. Big bang theory was deduced from observations and reflection of Hubble. Expanding our world has made ​​such a phenomenal rate that was forced to use the Planck time to study the Big Bang.
Indeed, only one unit of Planck after the creation of our world, the four forces governing our universe (gravity, electromagnetic force, strong nuclear force and low) differed to implement the creative process. Then an incredible fight to the death took place between matter and antimatter formed almost in equal parts at the Big Bang. The material that was not annihilated is the whole of this matter in our Universe.

-What about Inflation, in theory ?

According to the consensus theory in cosmology, the Universe expanded exponentially during its first moments. That inflation explains a lot of observed features of the cosmos, such as the remarkable uniformity of the CMB. CMB is the Cosmic Microwave Background. However, inflation is less a theory than a set of models with differences in details; worse still, other theories produce similar predictions and match the observations we have so far.

One possible way to distinguish between models is the presence or absence of primordial gravitational radiation. Inflation would have created substantial fluctuations in the structure of space-time, with their strength and properties depending on the details of the particular inflationary model. However, though astronomers have known for decades that gravitational waves exist, the evidence for them is indirect, so few expect to measure primordial gravitational radiation directly in the foreseeable future. 

I'll give more details in inflation on my next blog at the end of the weekend.


Monday, August 11, 2014

Just a tip of an ice burg...........

It is always surprising when people look blank (here in Africa) when I tell them what a medical physicist does, this led me to search the web in order to ascertain if other people around the world knew what a medical physicist does generally. I came across series of proofs that really, people generally just don't know. 

Let me shed some light.........

The Medical physicists inhabit a diverse field, which include working in hospitals, universities and in industry as service providers and researchers.

Medical physics is central to the treatment of “cancer” with different types of radiation, from X-rays, protons and heavy ions to ultrasound, and medical imaging techniques which ranges from basic X-ray exposures to advanced modalities like positron emission tomography. Medical physicists provide radiation protection services in hospitals and industry.

The field is interdisciplinary, depending on their subfield, medical physicists may use radio-biology, anatomy and physiology, cancer biology and engineering in their daily work. And no medical physicist is an island: they typically work in teams that can include medics, radiation therapists, radiographers, nurses, engineers, technicians and biologists.
 This is only but a few of the stuff Medical physicists are involved in.

Fin de la première semaine et début de la seconde.

Je m'appelle Diallo Mamadou Salif du Sénégal,  j'ai fait la physique à l'Université Cheikh Anta Diop (UCAD) de Dakar, j'ai fait mon master sur la mécanique des fluides et applications au département de physique à l'UCAD. Aprés, je suis parti an African Institute for Mathematical Sciences (AIMS) pour améliorer mes connaissances en mathématiques et informatiques. J'ai reçu mon diplome de master 2 de AIMS en juin 2014 et j'ai travaillé pour mon projet de fin d'études sur la modélisation et la simulation numérique appliquée à la physique.

C'est ma première fois de participer à cette école de physique qui offre vraiment un privilège aux jeunes Africains motivés pour la science. ASP fait partir aux programmes qui regroupent tous les grands physiciens à l'échelle mondiale, c'est aussi une chance et un défi pour l'Afrique. Ce défi, les fils et les filles du monde de la science se sont attachés à le relever deux années aprés deux années, en régistrant des avancées substantielles, en matière de la physique théorique, la physique des particules et la physique appliquée.

La première semaine de l'école est close, nous avons vécu à des cours et présentations de plusieurs spécialistes en physique. J'adore bien les cours et j'apprécie les intervations de tout un chacun.
Actuellement, la physique se passe en Afrique (en particulier à Dakar plus précisément à UCAD 2), nous vivons le monde de la physique car je peux dire les plus grands laboratoires et centres de recherches du monde se sont déplacés au Sénégal comme CERN, JAFFERSON LAB...

En outre, j'ai beaucoup de raisons pour participer à cette école mais mon principal intéret est la simulation appliquée à la physique comme la physique des particules, la physique des hautes énergies et la physique des accélérateurs.
En effet, tous les jours m'ont plus mais j'ai été plus attirés aux mercredi et jeudi, les jours où on a fait  Monte-Carlo Generators et le professeur nous parlait de GEANT4. Ce dernier est une plateforme logicielle pour la simulation du passage de particules à travers la matière pour la méthode de Monte-Carlo.

Au nom de tous les bloggers et jeunes chercheurs, je remercie vivement les iniateurs, les organisateurs de cette école, au staff local ainsi que tous les participants.
Chers jeunes physiciens et physiciennes, il est de notre devoir à tous et à toutes de bien apprécier et de contribuer sur cet school afin de motiver davantage les organisateurs pour l'avancement de la science en Afrique.
"Qui mieux que la jeunesse peut, aujourd'hui, incarner le changement au nom du futur qu'elle vivra demain?"
Je finis à souhaiter à tous les participants de bien enregistrer ce qui est déjà fait et de bien recevoir ce qui  va venir.