Yesterday began the 2009 International Neutrino Summer School (INSS) being hosted at Fermilab this week and next. Its a two week immersion school with about 90 students coming from all over the world to attend. The students are mostly graduate students working on research in the field and a few post docs who are new to neutrino physics. There are lectures during the morning and afternoon covering the breadth of contemporary neutrino physics topics: theoretical aspects, neutrino sources and detectors, the open questions and future experiments, neutrinos in cosmology, etc. The lecturers are the leaders in their respective subjects and have also come from all over the world to participate. I attended such a school as a graduate student and benefited greatly from the experience. This time around I’ve served on the local organizing committee which planned the school – oh no, does that mean I’m getting old?
There are also non-lecture sessions where the students are working in small groups of 3 or 4 on some rather involved theoretical and experimental problems. They’ll spend several hours each day discussing and researching the details of the question they chose and prepare 15 minute presentations on their efforts for the last day of the school.
In addition there are a set of social events planned to provide an opportunity for the students to relax as well as get to know each other a little better. They will all be colleagues for a long time in a fairly small, international field, so the connections they make here are very important. Last night we hosted a BBQ on the Fermilab site with food and drink and a few outdoor activities, volleyball, soccer, bocce. Several other such events are planned over the next two weeks including a farewell banquet on the last night.
The 2009 INSS will keep me busy the next couple of weeks, but seems to be off to a very successful start in the first two days. I’ll let you know how the rest goes!