by Polly Bennett. Published: 27 April 2012

A trial brainstorm of unexplored physics ideas was held at this month’s ALICE Physics Week (APW) in Frascati, Italy. ALICE Ideas in Motion (AIM), the concept of Karel Safarik and Guy Paic, was designed to discuss new ideas for measurements and analyses of the previous two years data. The session forwent the traditional ‘conference style’ presentation of new ideas, focusing instead on friendly discussion.

“Some ideas were completely new and completely crazy, which is what we wanted,” says Karel Safarik. “Some were very simple and could be explained in a few words, while others were complicated and will involve starting a new programme of development.”

G. Feofilov

Alessandra Fantoni (centre) presenting a ‘pupazza frascatana’ prize with Federico Antinori (left) and Karel Safarik (right)

Over 100 people attended the session, where twenty ideas were presented for discussion and friendly critique. “I was receiving ideas even the day before, and that was a little bit of a problem. The session was scheduled to be open-ended but we couldn’t go far beyond 8pm. So we divided the ideas into a few categories to keep everything on time,” explains Karel. Ideas were categorised as ‘simple ideas’ or full ‘programmes of research’, and also by topic, including ‘azimuthal flow’, ‘baryon number transport’, and ‘rapidity correlations’.

“One of the ‘best’ ideas was a programme of investigation presented by Sergey Voloshin, on behalf of a few colleagues. The idea is to pre-select events in some quantities, to find a fluctuation and study this way ‘pre-engineered’ event. It’s really to find the origin of the fluctuation. Also, Kenta Shigaki had a very interesting idea, speculating how we can measure the huge magnetic field created in semi-central collisions,” Karel explains.

In addition to exploring new ideas, the session was designed to encourage young researchers to present ideas. “It is especially difficult to stimulate young people. They need a break and sometimes it’s difficult to get up in public,” says Guy Paic. Karel adds, “Often people are shy and AIM was an attempt to break this. It was forbidden apriori to dismiss any idea and any doubts were expressed positively.” As encouragement, prizes were awarded for the first and second best ideas, for the best ‘small’ ideas, and for the youngest and eldest participants. Prizes included a bottle of grappa, local wine, and a special biscuit in the shape of a local puppet ‘pupazza frascatana’.

First prize: Sergey Voloshin for ‘Event Shape Engineering’

Second prize: Andreas Morsch for ‘Azimuthal Distribution in Jets’

The two prizes for small ideas: Kenta Shigaki for ‘Strong Magnetic Field Detection’ and Martin Poghosyan for ‘String Junction Detection’

The final two prizes went to Ivan Vorobyvev, youngest participant, and Guy Paic, oldest participant.

In explaining why new ideas are crucial at this time Guy explains, “We are now two years into analysing heavy ion data and it is a very difficult task, with lots of technical and complicated details to extract. Some things are straightforward, for example, we can do more event analysis. But of course, the higher energies we have at the LHC also allow us, hopefully, to make studies that were not done in the same way before. Experimentalists need to find inventive ways to present their results.”

Ideas will be followed up at the next APW at the end of the year. “I would say about 30% of the ideas presented are already starting to be done in the physics analysis, and I hope most will be done soon,” Karel concludes.