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Japan/Canada Scientific Symposium at TRIUMF

04 November 2010

On October 25, 2010, TRIUMF hosted the second Japan/Canada scientific symposium on particle and accelerator physics.  The symposium was held last year at the Canadian embassy in Tokyo.  The theme this year focused on “Bridging the Pacific with Science and Impact” and identified potential synergies between the KEK laboratory in Japan and TRIUMF in Canada.

With an introduction by John Hepburn, Vice President Research at UBC, BC Deputy Minister Don Fast opened the symposium and affirmed the importance of developing partnerships between the Province of British Columbia and Japan.  Following him, the KEK and TRIUMF directors each presented an overview of the science and technology programs at each laboratory. 

Subsequent presentations focused on parallel and complementary efforts on either side of the Pacific in particle physics at CERN’s Large Hadron Collider, neutrino and underground science at Japan’s T2K and Super Kamiokande projects and Canada’s SNOLAB, and molecular and materials science using muon spin-resonance techniques at both KEK and TRIUMF.  Other speakers talked about particle detector developments and activities in accelerator science and technology.  Jeff Martin from the University of Winnipeg presented a short update on the emerging Japanese/Canadian “Ultracold Neutrons” project which is proposed to start in Japan and then move to TRIUMF.  The project has received substantial funding commitments from multiple governments.  

Suzuki-sanKEK-TRIUMF Symposium 2010 Panel
KEK Director General Atsuto Suzuki at TRIUMF.Panel members (left to right): Sugawara-san, Sugiyama-san, Suzuki-san, and Nigel Lockyer.


The closing element of the symposium was a panel discussion that tackled several difficult topics.  Chaired by former KEK director and now director of the Washington, D.C., office for JSPS, Hirotaka Sugawara, the panel included Ken Armour from the BC Ministry for Science and Universities, Elmer Hara from the University of Regina, the KEK and TRIUMF directors, accelerator physicist Seiya Yamaguchi from KEK, and Jun Sugiyama from Toyota’s CRDL laboratory in Japan.  Sugawara-san started the discussion with observations about the role that high-power free-electron lasers (based on accelerators) could play in teasing apart transmission and absorption properties of the atmosphere for use in detailed calculations of radiative forcing in global climate change.  KEK director general Atsuto Suzuki spoke about a new model for international laboratories which would obviate a single, dominant institution.  TRIUMF director Nigel Lockyer talked about the “flat world” and argued that every laboratory needs to make its case in both regional and global contexts.  The second topic for the panel was the growing emphasis on economic and societal benefits from basic research. Yamaguchi-san and Sugiyama-san outlined some of the present-day applications of accelerator and particle physics in real-world situations.  Ken Armour and Elmer Hara spoke more generally about the role of innovation in the economy and the need for basic research as a foundation for partnership and collaboration.  A lively discussion ensued with questions from the audience, deftly moderated by Sugawara-san.

The symposium concluded on an optimistic note with participants eager to pursue smaller group discussions about potential areas for collaboration including rare-isotope physics, energy-recovery linear accelerators and free-electron lasers, ultracold neutrons, and materials science using very low-energy muons.  Afterward, TRIUMF hosted a short reception for the symposium participants and invited guests including Japan Consul General Hideki Ito and other government and institutional representatives.  

Reflecting on the symposium, TRIUMF director Nigel S. Lockyer said, “I am delighted to have had this opportunity to really get to know KEK and its leading scientists.  Great partnerships start from good understanding, common interests, and committed individuals.  This symposium has addressed all three of these ingredients and I look forward to a mutually beneficial partnership with KEK going forward.  And to our colleagues who travelled thousands of miles across the Pacific, thank you for coming!”

The full agenda for the symposium as well as access to the presented talks is available online.  KEK's summary can be viewed as well.


--By T.I. Meyer, TRIUMF’s Head of Strategic Planning & Communications