Why a Summer Institute on "Using Particle Physics to Understand and Image the Earth"?
The 20th century has been an incredibly exciting scientific season which led to a broader understanding of fundamental particles, disclosed many mysteries of the atomic and nuclear structure, unveiled the incessant flux of cosmic rays and neutrinos that continuously pour on us, and provided significant insights into the origins of the elements and their abundances and distributions in stars, planets, and in the cosmos. Following on the heels of these fundamental concepts, their applications spread out as tools that both science and society could take advantage of.
What were fundamentals in nuclear physics are now applications in fields such as geology, cosmochemistry, nuclear security, underground physics and environmental science. Sophisticated softwares based on Monte Carlo simulations, Bayesian Methods, and Artificial Intelligence are readily being applied in many fields of science and technology. The production of neutrons and short-lived isotopes are revealing much about the Earth’s hydrological cycle, quantifying climate change, confining the way and the time scale with which weathering and erosion processes occur, measuring the rates of uplift of the continents, defining when asteroids began their journey to the Earth, and providing the sentry for the detection of interdicted nuclear materials, just to mention a bunch of applications.
This Summer Institute seeks to train the next generation of international scientists in fundamental concepts applicable in their immediate field and to open their minds to worlds existing beyond their specialty. In the scenario of a global scientific and technological knowledge, innovation in one field can lead to the incubation of new ideas and applications in other unrelated areas of science and/or society. Cross-disciplinarity and flexible skill sets are going to cover a more and more essential role in the education of future researchers and they are a distinctive characteristic of this Summer Institute.