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News from ICTP 86 - Dateline



Graduation Time at ICTP

This September, 26 students in mathematics, condensed matter and high-energy physics graduated from ICTP's Diploma Courses. Most of the graduates will now seek advanced degrees in other countries, largely in the United States. Here are some of the places they came from: Algeria, Benin, Ethiopia, Madagascar, Senegal, Syria and Viet Nam. Here are some places they will be going to: Syracuse University, Texas A&M University, University of Georgia in the United States, and Kaiserslautern University in Germany. Of all the graduating Diploma students, Mosab Rbah Nasser of Gaza may be making the greatest leap of all-geographically speaking. Raised on the parched desert lands of the Middle East, he's heading for the frosty tundra in the Auroral Observatory University of Tromsø, Norway, located beyond the Arctic Circle. At the same time that the ICTP wished a fond farewell to its 1997-1998 Diploma Class, the Centre welcomed a new batch of students. On 1 October, 32 Diploma students from around the world began their studies in Trieste.

In the Blink of an Eye

The ICTP Microprocessor Laboratory, under the direction of Alberto Colavita, has announced that its fast-moving imaging system, under development for the past two years, has acquired its first customer. The U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, Maryland, has agreed to purchase the system to enhance its research efforts on hearing disorders. The system's key elements consist of a modified digital camera, equipped with 12 bits of memory, and computer board or "frame grabber." The latter provides an interface between the data storage and retrieval capabilities of the host computer and the images captured by the camera. The project is a joint venture between ICTP and the Scuola internazionale superiore di studi avanzati (SISSA), which is located adjacent to the Centre's campus. The research staff include ICTP's Gabriele Capello, project engineer; SISSA's Fabio Mammano, a biophysics researcher, and SISSA's Marco Canepari, a biophysics doctorate student. The value of the fast-camera system lies in its ability to provide on-screen still images of fast-moving objects and activities. It can, for example, freeze-frame the motion of butterfly wings in flight. The NIH plans to use the system to study how ear membranes-tiny fluttering fibers that play a critical role in our ability to hear-react to electronic stimuli. Colavita hopes that the sale of the system to the prestigious NIH will spark interest from research institutes and research centres worldwide. The National Institute of Medical Research in the United Kingdom has recently inquired about the system's availability. And an Italian company specializing in the sale of "turn-key" imaging equipment has made preliminary inquiries about partnering with the Laboratory in its manufacture and distribution.

Cape Town Travels

Faheem Hussain, Head of the ICTP Office of External Activities (OEA), visited Cape Town, South Africa, in early July to attend the 43rd Annual Conference of the South African Institute of Physics (SAIP). Discussions during the visit focused on possibile future collaborations in physics and mathematics between scientists in the region and ICTP. OEA provided SAIP with US$4,000 to enable physicists from neighbouring, less scientifically advanced African countries to attend the conference. During his five-day journey, Hussain had extensive talks with SAIP officials. He also met with physicist Rob Adams, Deputy Directory General of the Foundation for Research and Development (FRD), the government of South Africa's main agency for the development of science and technology.

Medals and Prizes

The ICTP Dirac selection committee has announced the winners of the 1998 Dirac Medal. The recipients are Stephen Adler, a professor at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey (USA), and Roman Jackiw, a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Boston, Massachusetts (USA). Adler and Jackiw are being honoured for their contributions to quantum field theory. Their individual research efforts crossed paths with their studies of the triangular anomaly, a complex theory based on physics and mathematics that helps explain the decay of such elementary particles as pions, while placing severe restrictions on grand unified theories involving the fundamental forces of nature. The award, which carries a US$5,000 cash prize, is named in honour of the late Nobel Laureate Paul A.M. Dirac, one of the fathers of quantum mechanics and staunch friend of the ICTP.

Winners of the 1998 ICTP Prize have also been recently announced. They are Fernando Quevedo of the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Mexico and Anamaria Font of the Universidad Central de Venezuela. Both are being recognized for their contributions to the field of string theory, particularly for their theoretical work on compactifications, mirror symmetries and dualities. The prize, which includes a US$1,000 cash award, is granted annually to young scientists living and working in the developing world. This year's ICTP Prize will be given in the name of C.N. Yang. A world renowned physicist, Yang received the Nobel Prize in 1957 and has been a driving force behind the Asia Pacific Centre for Theoretical Physics (APCTP). Modelled after the ICTP, the Asia Pacific Centre officially began operations last year.

News from Associates

Prosper Mpawenayo, an ICTP Regular Associate Member since 1993 and Fellow in the Programme for Training and Research in Italian Laboratories (TRIL) since 1985, has been named the new Minister of National Education and Scientific Research in Burundi in central Africa. Thanks to his TRIL fellowship, Mpawenayo visited the Politecnico di Torino in northwestern Italy on several occasions during the 1980s and 1990s, including earlier this year. His major field of research is semiconductor physics.

On 14 August, the 51st anniversary of Pakistan's independence, President Rafiq Tarar conferred civil awards on 120 citizens for their pursuit of excellence in fields ranging from literature to arts to sciences. Five ICTP Associates were among the award winners, including Muhammad Masud Ahmad (Pakistan's Atomic Energy Commission), who received the Hilal-i-Imtiaz or Crescent of Distinction. Other ICTP Associates receiving recognition were Abdul Waheed Khan (Gomal University, Dera Ismail Khan), Mujahid Kamran (University of the Punjab, Lahore), M. Zafar Iqbal (Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad) and Khawaja Yaldram (Pakistan Institute of Nuclear Science and Technology, Islamabad). Each was granted a President's Award for Pride of Performance. The official ceremony is scheduled to take place next March.

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The Associateship Scheme, which has been a core programme at the ICTP since the Centre's inception in 1964, provides an opportunity for Associate Members to spend 270 days at the Centre during a 6-year period. Changes have recently been put in place to increase the number of young scientists who are eligible for participation in the program. For additional information on the Associateship Scheme, please see the Summer 1998 issue of NEWS from ICTP, pages 4 and 5, or e-mail the secretariat at


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