36th International Cosmic Ray Conference kicks off tomorrow in Madison

36th International Cosmic Ray Conference banner

The 36th International Cosmic Ray Conference (ICRC) kicks off tomorrow in Madison, Wisconsin. ICRC is a physics conference organized biennially by the Commission on Astroparticle Physics (C4) of the International Union of Pure and Applied Sciences (IUPAP) in which physicists from around the world present the results of their research in astroparticle physics. The meeting covers cosmic ray physics, neutrino physics, gamma ray astronomy, dark matter, particle astrophysics, and detector techniques in these fields.

Since the first ICRC in 1947, the US has hosted only three meetings. In fact, 2019 is the first time this international conference has come to the United States since 1999, when it took place in Salt Lake City, Utah.

This year’s conference will bring over 850 registrants from 39 countries to the University of Wisconsin–Madison campus. UW–Madison is home to the Wisconsin IceCube Particle Astrophysics Center (WIPAC), the research center that is headquarters for the IceCube Neutrino Observatory at the South Pole.

Over the course of the 8-day meeting, there will be 410 oral presentations, 651 poster presentations, 17 highlight talks, 10 review talks, 7 rapporteur talks, and a public lecture.

While some attendees will be present tonight at the pre-registration welcome party, the conference begins in earnest tomorrow morning at 8:30 am at the opening session. There will be a welcome by UW–Madison College of Letters and Sciences interim dean Eric Wilcots and the chair of the C4 commission, Sunil Gupta. At this time, Gupta will also announce the winners of the IUPAP Young Scientist Award, the IUPAP-TIFR Homi Bhabha Medal and Prize, the O’Ceallaigh Medal, the Shakti P. Duggal Award, and the Yodh Prize.

This year’s ICRC will be unique in a number of ways. For one, the opening session and all review, highlight, and rapporteur talks will be livestreamed at this link.

ICRC will also have two special sessions to promote the value of equity, community, and diversity in our cosmic ray community. “Equity in Science: Realities and Responses,” a panel and ice cream social with UW–Madison professor Amy Wendt, will take place on Thursday, July 25, from 6:30 to 8:30 pm in Old Madison on the third floor of Memorial Union. “Capturing Cosmic Ray Scientists: The Making of the Memorial Union Event Horizon Gallery Show” with artist and UW–Madison professor Faisal Abdu’Allah will take place in the same location on Monday, July 29, from 12:00 to 1:30 pm.

This meeting will also be unique in its heightened sustainability efforts. The Memorial Union is making recycling available throughout the conference space; electing to use compostable utensils, napkins, and plates; and looking into ways of donating leftover food to avoid food waste. Over 1,000 reusable tumblers will be distributed to reduce the use of disposable coffee cups and plastic drinking glasses. In addition, all attendees are encouraged to use public transportation, bike, or walk to get to the venues, and to use the website, ICRC app, and digital signage to avoid using paper whenever possible.

Two ICRC events will be open to the public. First, the Memorial Union Gallery is hosting a physics-inspired art exhibit called Messages from the Horizon that includes works by two artists. Messages (Mark-David Hosale with IceCube collaborator Jim Madsen) is an abstracted and collapsed form of the Universe combining sound and light to explore what we know and how we know it. Event Horizon (Faisal Abdu’Allah with Maryam Ladoni) provides portraits of scientists holding objects that inspired their careers, and ICRC attendees are welcome to participate by bringing their own special objects and having their portraits taken. The exhibits are on display in Memorial Union’s Main Gallery now through August 1, the end of ICRC.

Second, on Friday, July 26, there will be a public lecture called “The Origins of the Highest Energy Particles in Nature” about the current status and future directions of cosmic ray research. Alan Watson, professor of physics at the University of Leeds in the United Kingdom, will give the talk at 7:30 pm in Shannon Hall at the Memorial Union. It is free and open to the public. This continues ICRC’s tradition of holding a public lecture at each conference, which began in 1991, in honor of Victor Hess, the pioneering physicist who won the 1936 Nobel Prize for the discovery of cosmic rays.

You can get highlights from the conference on Twitter at @uw_wipac and by following the hashtag #ICRC2019.