01-10-2009: European astroparticle physicists to celebrate 100 years of cosmic ray experiments

01 - 10 - 2009


Geneva, 1 October 2009. Four hundred years ago, Galileo was the first one to look at the sky with a telescope. About 100 years ago a new era for astrophysics began with the first astroparticle physics experiments that led to the discovery of cosmic rays. European physicists take the opportunity of the International Year of Astronomy to celebrate this anniversary.

From 10 to 17 October 2009, in France, Italy, Spain and many other countries, astroparticle physicists will meet the public to reveal some of the most exciting mysteries of the Universe. Within the first European Week of Astroparticle Physics, they will organise about 50 events all over Europe: open days, talks for the general public, exhibitions…

The first precursor experiments discovered cosmic ray radiation about a century ago. From 1909 to 1911, physicist Theodor Wulf tried to measure differences of radiation at different altitudes from the Netherlands to Switzerland, and even on top of the Eiffel Tower. In 1912, Victor Franz Hess measured a significant increase of radiation using a balloon for his experiments, flying up to 5000 meters. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for "his discovery of cosmic radiation" in 1936.

Paris will honour astroparticle physics pioneers at the Montparnasse Tower – the highest building in Paris – which will become a real cosmic rays detector during the entire week. It will welcome the public for animations and meetings with scientists. At night a laser beam will link the ancient Paris Observatory and the Montparnasse Tower, flashing in syncronisation with the detection of cosmic rays.

In Czech Republic, The Netherlands, Poland, Romania… laboratories will open their doors or organise special events where physicists will meet the public.

Rome will celebrate astroparticle physics with opening on 27 October 2009 in Palazzo delle Esposizioni a large exhibition dedicated to astroparticle physics: "Astri e particelle. Le parole dell’ Universo”. It is the very first exhibition of this kind in Europe, highlighting challenges and techniques of astroparticle physics, a truly new astronomy.

As part of the International Year of Astronomy IYA2009, the European Week of Astroparticle Physics is an initiative of ApPEC and ASPERA*, the bodies coordinating astroparticle physics in Europe.

Find all the information about the European Week of Astroparticle Physics on: http://europeanweek.astroparticle.org