Bouncing Light off Light

Dr. Tom Heinzl visited the DESY XFEL in April. This is a 1.5 million Euro X-ray free electron laser, situated in a 3 km long tunnel near Hamburg, Germany. It has just seen “first light” on 4th May (see Tom attended a meeting of the HIBEF User Consortium (see, where he gave a talk on “Light-by-light scattering”  This is a classically forbidden process that only becomes possible in quantum theory due to particle-anti-particle fluctuations of the vacuum. A variant of this process has recently been observed in heavy ion collisions at CERN ( The HIBEF facility combines the DESY XFEL with high-power optical lasers. Such a unique combination may allow the first detection of light-by-light scattering in a purely electromagnetic setting (without recourse to high-energy matter particles such as heavy ions). Tom and collaborators at Plymouth University, Anton Ilderton and Ben King, are providing theory support for the HIBEF experimentalists who want to perform this fundamental physics experiment.


Visit to the University of Bucharest.

Dr. Ben King, from CMS at Plymouth University, recently visited Dr. Victor Dinu,  a researcher at the University of Bucharest. His visit lasted one week. They collaborated  on theoretical calculations of laser-particle physics. Ben  adapted Victor’s code to work on the computer cluster at Plymouth University. Using forty cores, they were able to obtain a speed-up of about a factor 10. This was just a test run with a real part of the calculation, but it was a success, since the proof of principle of parallelizing the code was demonstrated.

Award of grant of Supercomputer time

With the HPQCD collaboration, Dr Craig McNeile, has been awarded an additional allocation of 12.8 million core hours on  the Data Analytic Cluster at Cambridge. This award comes comes the Dirac consortium.  

The computer time will be used for theoretical particle physics calculations to test the standard model of particle physics.

The award also includes 8 months of software support to improve the efficiency of one of the key codes.


Minimising area, maximising fun

To mark British Science Week, Prof David McMullan and Dr Martin Lavelle gave talks on “Mathematics with Bubbles” to over 400 primary school children. The photograph shows the use of soap films to demonstrate part of  the solution to Plateau’s conjectures.


TedX talk by Antonio Rago

TEDxPlymouthUniversity  showcases new, exciting and inspirational ideas that can be found  in Plymouth. This year the event is held on Thursday 9th March 2017 in the Roland Levinsky Building Plymouth University.

The event is series of presentations by researchers at Plymouth University, highlighting cutting edge research and insight. The talks range from poetry, art, to women’s rights.

Dr. Antonio Rago from the centre for mathematical sciences is presenting a talk with the title: A journey through elementary particles.

The event is already sold out.

Meeting about High Power Lasers

Christmas and the new year is a time for reflection and to look back on the events of the year. In science there are a number of conferences to review the progress in different fields. Member of the CMS who work on Quantum Field Theory at High Intensities are attending the end of year meeting: 2016 Christmas Meeting of the High Power Laser User Community at Abingdon School and Coseners House. A number of talks and posters are being presented by members of Plymouth’s Centre for Mathematical Sciences.

Below is a photograph of PhD student: Lauren Ansell presenting a poster on her research:

The picture below shows Dr Anton Ilderton giving a talk on his research:

The picture below is of Dr. Ben King presenting his talk at the meeting.



Particle Physics Master Class at Plymouth University

For the first time the theoretical physics group at Plymouth University is organizing a Particle Physics Master Class. Students at local schools we will be able to visit us for a day to work on experimental data from the experiments at the LHC. At the end of the day, the students will  discuss their results via a video conference with physicists working on the experiments at CERN.

The event will be held on Wednesday 5th April 2017. There are more details at the local web page for the event.