Chicago to host world’s largest conference on high-energy physics

Week of events to include physics slam, public lecture on gravitational waves

Particle collision
Scientists from around the world will present results during the International Conference on High Energy Physics.
Steve Koppes
Associate News DirectorUniversity Communications

More than 1,350 physicists from 49 countries will converge in Chicago for the biennial International Conference on High Energy Physics in early August to share new research results, announce new projects and talk about the most intriguing mysteries of the universe.

The conference will be held Aug. 3-10 at the Sheraton Grand Hotel, 301 E. North Water St. Physicists from the large experiments at CERN’s Large Hadron Collider—the world’s most powerful particle accelerator—will present a wealth of new results. This will include an eagerly awaited update about a mysterious bump in the data that could be evidence for a new particle or just a statistical fluctuation, as more data are being analyzed.

That will be merely one highlight in a program that covers 16 topics—from the Higgs boson to neutrinos to dark matter to cosmology, and will include new results from many experiments at institutions around the world.

“The International Conference on High Energy Physics will be the scientific event of the year in Chicago,” said Young-Kee Kim, chair of the conference’s organizing committee and the Louis Block Professor in Physics at the University of Chicago. “A great many scientists who specialize in particle physics, cosmology, accelerator science and related fields work in this region’s excellent research universities and our two outstanding national laboratories. We all look forward to showing this vibrant city to our colleagues and discussing the latest developments of our science.”

Public events

The conference includes two free events specially designed for the public: The Windy City Physics Slam and a public lecture on the recent, headline-making detection of gravitational waves.

The Windy City Physics Slam, hosted by WGN-TV Chief Meteorologist Tom Skilling, will take place at 3 p.m. Aug. 7 at the Sheraton Grand Hotel Chicago Ballroom. Inspired by poetry slams, the Physics Slam will pit researchers against each other in a contest to make their field of study sound as interesting, compelling and enjoyable as possible. Five scientists from around the world will compete, using music, dance, props and anything else they want, with the winner determined by audience applause.

The public lecture, titled “The Detection of Gravitational Waves from Binary Black Hole Mergers,” will begin at 6:30 p.m. Aug. 9, at the Sheraton Grand Hotel Chicago Ballroom. The speaker will be Barry Barish, the Linde Professor of Physics Emeritus at the California Institute of Technology. Barish has played multiple key roles for the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory since 1994. LIGO made international headlines twice this year with its discoveries of gravitational waves, whose existence were predicted by Albert Einstein in his 1915 general theory of relativity.

Those events are free and open to the public, with seating on a first-come basis.

For the media

Members of the media are invited to “A Nobel Breakfast,” at 8 a.m. Aug. 8. Featured guests will include Nobel laureate Takaaki Kajita and leaders of international laboratories whose work has contributed to Nobel Prizes in physics. Moderating the event will be Edward “Rocky” Kolb, dean of UChicago’s Physical Sciences Division and the Arthur Holly Compton Distinguished Service Professor in Astronomy and Astrophysics.

Kajita, of the University of Tokyo, shared the 2015 Nobel Prize in Physics “for the discovery of neutrino oscillations, which shows that neutrinos have mass.” The laboratory leaders attending the event will be Fabiola Gianotti, director-general of CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research; Peter Littlewood, director of Argonne National Laboratory; Nigel Lockyer, director of Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory; Yifang Wang, director of China’s Institute for Particle Physics; and Masanori Yamauchi, director-general of KEK, Japan’s high-energy accelerator research organization.

Media also are invited to see Illinois Congressman Bill Foster receive the 2016 “Champion of Science” award from the Science Coalition, a non-profit, non-partisan organization of more than 60 of the nation’s leading public and private research universities. The award recognizes members of Congress whose actions and votes reflect their belief in the importance of basic scientific research and the key role of federal funding in its facilitation. Foster was nominated for the award by Northern Illinois University, Northwestern University, University of Illinois and the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Foster, the only physicist in Congress, will receive the award at 12:45 p.m. in the Sheraton Grand Hotel Chicago Ballroom.

Free ICHEP registration and other information for journalists is available here. Interested participants may register for the conference here.