During the last weeks, the rhythm of the lives of many ALICE members has been set by the preparations for Quark Matter 2011. Taking place in Annecy, on 23-28 May, this is the 22nd edition of the International Conference on Ultra-Relativistic Nucleus-Nucleus Collisions. Quark Matter is one of the major conferences in the field of heavy ion physics, and this year the timing is great since it happens six months after the first heavy ion run at the LHC.
Some of the first results from last years’ lead collisions have already been published; however, by the time of Quark Matter, the full bulk of lead data will have been analysed. The whole heavy ion community is waiting eagerly for their presentation. Of course, there will also be results from the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC), and much more.
For ALICE this “first” massive presentation of results is obviously particularly important; as, in addition to the lead data, reference proton data, at 2.76 TeV centre-of-mass energy, taken during a dedicated LHC run in March, will also have been analysed. We are now ready to make comparisons!
At the present time the whole ALICE community lives with Quark Matter as the focus of their attention. Unless something is really urgent, it is postponed for after Quark Matter. April and May’s ALICE mini-weeks, where results from the different physics groups are presented, have been devoted to the discussion of results for Quark Matter. A week-long physics forum is taking place right now, dedicated to the approval of results and plots to be presented.
The number of the conference participants approaches 800. ALICE will have a strong presence with nine plenary presentations with heavy ion results, 36 oral contributions in parallel sessions and 78 posters.
The official programme extends over five and a half days. The Sunday before the start of the Conference is Student Day: a one-day student school consisting of introductory lectures, a session for the presentation of the most important results in the field and discussion sessions.
In addition to the rich physics programme, the organisers have also prepared cultural activities: the well-known play “The Physicists” by Friedrich Dürrenmatt, and a poetic and musical creation (from Genesis to Antigenesis) are some of the offerings. Events for the general public are also organised, such as a public debate on the origins of matter and the universe and theatre for children.
Last but not least, lots of exhibitions will be shown in the conference venue and the town of Annecy: “CERN through the eyes of Peter Ginter”, “Nobel Prizes: portraits” and “Science at the Large Scale”. Physics will certainly have a strong presence in the life of Annecy during the week 23-28 May.
We are looking forward to a week of lively discussions on physics results; and will come back to you with news from the heavy ion physics front.