Happy Birthday IPPOG!

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 D. Hatzifotiadou    30-09-2022     Leggi in PDF

The International Particle Physics Outreach Group (IPPOG) is a network of scientists, science educators and communication specialists working across the globe in science education and public engagement for particle physics. On 19 September IPPOG had its birthday, turning 25!

What is nowadays IPPOG was formed in 1997 as EPOG, the European Particle Physics Outreach Group, under the joint auspices of the European Committee for Future Accelerators (ECFA) and the High Energy Particle Physics Board of the European Physical Society (EPS-HEP). Chris Llewellyn-Smith, the CERN Director-General at the time, had stated, during the first EPOG meeting: "The particle physics community has a moral obligation to inform the public on its activities. To do this well, experiences must be shared among countries in view of the need to optimize the use of resources." Indeed the motivation for the formation of the group was the exchange of experiences and best practices and the support of educational and outreach activities globally, in an organized way.

At the time, the group consisted of representatives from the CERN member states, from CERN and from DESY. Later the outreach coordinators of the four big LHC experiments joined. As the attention of the particle physics community was focusing on the LHC, interest was growing for other countries, members of the experiments' collaborations but not of CERN, to join EPOG. In November 2010 EPOG became IPPOG, evolving from European to International. The USA joined IPPOG in 2012; in the following years more countries joined, including Israel, Ireland, Slovenia, Australia and South Africa.

For many years financial support for IPPOG's flagship programme, the International Masterclasses, had been provided by CERN through an agreement with the Technical University of Dresden and by Quarknet in the USA. With the expansion of IPPOG it became clear that more resources were needed for the support of its programmes and its communication strategy across the globe. Work started towards transforming IPPOG to an international collaboration with defined organizational structure and its own funding. With the help of the CERN legal service a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was drafted, defining the agreement between the bodies representing the member countries, the experimental collaborations and the international laboratories and specifying their obligations (financial contribution for the countries, in-kind for the collaborations). The transition to international collaboration happened in December 2016, when the required number of members had signed the MoU. More MoUs were signed in the following years and nowadays IPPOG has 39 members (32 countries, 6 international collaborations, CERN as an international laboratory) and two associate members (national laboratories DESY and GSI). In the meantime more countries have expressed interest to join and discussions are ongoing.

In addition to the International Particle Physics Masterclasses, IPPOG has created a common umbrella for educational cosmic ray experiments under the Global Cosmics programme and supports the International Cosmic Day and the International Muon Week; IPPOG members participate in festivals and other public events; and dialogue with other communities such as gravitational waves, astroparticle and nuclear physics has started with the aim to create synergies.

On 29 October 2022 IPPOG's 25th birthday will be celebrated with a special symposium at CERN's Globe of Science and Innovation.

Despina Hatzifotiadou – Senior researcher at the Italian National Institute for Nuclear Physics (INFN), Unit of Bologna, she is member of ALICE, the heavy ion experiment at LHC where she contributed in the design and construction of the Time of Flight array, based on Multigap Resistive Plate Chambers. She is the outreach coordinator of ALICE and represents it in IPPOG. She is also involved in the Extreme Energy Events (EEE) project, which studies extensive showers of cosmic rays.