by Yiota Foka, Sonja Kabana & Larisa Bravina . Published: 23 July 2012

The First International Conference on New Frontiers in Physics, ICFP2012, aimed to foster interdisciplinary cross-fertilization by bringing together scientists from diverse fields. It was held on 10-16 June 2012 in the Orthodox Academy of Crete, OAC, at Kolymbari and attracted 150 participants, ranging from students to world experts. The location, beautiful and quiet, was ideally suited to intellectual debate in the spirit of the original Academy of Plato.

The formal conference business was preceded by a well-attended series of introductory lectures on the basic principles of some of the physics topics covered. Then each day, participants enjoyed a full program from 8:30 am to 8:30 pm, with a midday break long enough for lunch and informal contacts. In total, there were 147 talks, 40 plenary and 107 in parallel sessions. The plenary sessions emphasized interdisciplinarity by blending presentations from the different fields, particle physics, cosmology, quantum optics, and so on, while four parallel sessions focused on specific topics. Lively discussions were triggered between experts from the different disciplines, exchanging ideas on fundamental questions, methods, and know-how.

A substantial part of the program was dedicated to heavy-ion physics with contributions from ALICE, ATLAS and CMS as well as RHIC and SPS experiments. In particular, ALICE was very well represented, with a total of 10 presentations covering a wealth of experimental results. ALICE members also gave several overview talks. In addition, theoretical talks presented recent advances in the field.

Outreach had its place in the conference with particular emphasis on educational matters. During a midday break, high school teachers of Chania, the largest town in the area, were given an in-depth presentation, in Greek, of the International Masterclass project (see that allows pupils and students to get hands-on experience of LHC data analysis. The Masterclass was also presented in the main program of the conference.

Cultural activities included a Cretan evening, a lecture on the hydrological systems of Minoan palaces, an excursion to Knossos accompanied by archeologists, and a visit to the Heraklion Museum with a talk by a specialist on the Phaistos Disc.

Financial support was provided by CERN, the National Foundation of Norway, the University of Oslo and the OAC. The key role played by the Academy was much appreciated. The staff provided excellent administrative services as well as traditional Greek hospitality.

All in all, ICFP2012 was an acclaimed success. CERN and the European Physical Society have expressed an interest in supporting student attendance at ICFP2013, planned for 27 August to 6 September at the Academy in Crete.

ICFP2012 webpage:

Conference participants during a coffee break.

Traditional Cretan dinners were served on the terrace overlooking the Mediterranean.

The Conference organizers (left to right): Yiota Foka , Sonja Kabana, Larisa Bravina