Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Terascale Alliance

The German Helmholtz Association has formed an alliance 'Physics at the Terascale' which is specifically designed to support elementary high energy particle physics. The research center DESY, together with Forschungszentrum Karlsruhe, 17 further universities and the Max Planck Institute for Physics in Munich will focus their research endeavors within this program. Moreover, it provides funding especially for 'junior scientists' ('junior' being a synonym for untenured, possibly without habilitation - the latter being one of the most stupid features of the German academic system).

As the DESY press release from May 15th says:

"More than 50 new positions for scientists, engineers and technicians will be financed with Alliance funds during the initial five-year period. Junior scientists in particular are given the opportunity to lead research groups with options for tenure positions, opening up attractive perspectives for a future in particle physics. Joint junior positions at all partner institutes, coordinated recruitment and teaching substitutes for scientists who are abroad make it possible to work at large-scale international research institutes without interfering with teaching duties. "

To me this sounds very promising indeed - as many of the recent developments in the German scientific environment, e.g. the 'Excellence Initiative' has by now noticeably increased the number of interesting job opportunities, and the Emmy Noether program, which provides especially young researches with an attractive financial support (though the tenure option is missing).

In the last decades, Germany must have lost a lot of young scientists to the US because the research programs have been too inflexible and conservative. Just to give you an example, about 5 years ago we have had a well working group on physics beyond the standard model in Frankfurt and we applied for funding. Our proposal was declined with the argument that it doesn't fit into the already existing research (in this case heavy ion/nuclear physics). Needless to say, that was the reason why we wrote the proposal in the first place. As a consequence, I moved to the States, and the group basically fell apart. Sadly enough, this story is quite typical for research at German universities (keyword: Forschungsschwerpunkt).

Ironically, I learned about this from Physics Today, and not the German equivalent which is called Physik Journal. Though I am a member in both physics societies, I prefer the APS version which imo is better balanced between theory and experiment.


  1. Dear Bee,

    that's interesting - thank you for that info. By a curious incidence, J├╝rgen has send around the same day a link to a similar venture about astroparticle physics in Europe, called Aspera.

    It's really strange, there is not much news yet about this in Germany: Nothing on the pages of the Helmholtz Association, at DESY just this "Boost for Particle Physics in Germany" press release, but I have found a project description: Physics at the Terascale.

    The link to http://www.terascale.de/ does not seem to work yet.

    And at DESY, the accelerator HERA is shut down, while they switch to the X-ray laser facility XFEL...

    BTW: I like the new "old" design with the notebook spirals :-)

    Best, stefan

  2. Dear Bee,
    Does this possibly increase your opportunities?


  3. Dear Arun:

    Your comment lead me to google for Terascale Alliance. Not sure whether that would in- or decrease my chances :-) To be very honest, I find the recent developments in Germany very encouraging, but specifically about this alliance I have to say I personally don't see my future in particle physics. I am trying since a while to go more into the Cosmology direction, and my main interest was and still is quantum gravity.

    One way or the other, I assure you I was writing this post voluntarily and with the intention to inform about job opportunities, and not because I have applied for a position there. Best,


  4. Dear Stefan:

    BTW: I like the new "old" design with the notebook spirals :-)

    It's different spirals though. The old ones came with ruled paper. I am thinking about updating the template, not yet exactly sure how. The present one kind of lacks color. And I want to have a bee picture somewhere. Maybe I find some time on the weekend. Have to finish the workshop poster first...



  5. Your comment lead me to google for Terascale Alliance.

    That's incredible! I would not have guessed that this blog is that important ;-)

    Best, stefan


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