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PHYSICS MATTERS: Momentum grows for the African Light Source by Prof. Simon Connell

By Christine Marie-Therese Darve posted 26 days ago

On Thursday September 29h at 4 pm CET (10 am ET), join us us and Prof. Simon Connell to know why the "Momentum grows for the African Light Source"

Johannesburg University, SA



Why does Africa need a light source ? Because this is the single most important large scale research infrastructure that can address the challenges Africa faces, develop skilled human capacity, deliver quality science and power innovation In Africa. The world faces many challenges, articulated in the UN Sustainable Development Goals. African faces these challenges too and has in addition its own versions of them, as well as others. Consider also that we also need not only applied research to address these challenges, but also curiosity driven fundamental research.  This advances knowledge and has longer but certain timescales to innovation. It prepares humanity to address problems in new ways, and to address problems that have not yet manifested to the same extent as the previous ones. Having identified then the research issues, we can ask what science will contribute, and from there, what instrumentation. The single most significant instrument that emerges, is the modern light source, which is then surely a most transformative mega-research instrument. Research is both fundamental and applied. Both streams lead to innovation, competitive industry, the solution of problems of particular relevance for Africa, high end human capacity development, building the culture of learning, the inspiration of young learners to greater efforts and building a new generation of competent and enabled youth. There are other aspects, such as science diplomacy, pan Africanism, the globalisation and democratisation of participation in new knowledge generation, the implication that the large scale research infrastructure is fed by a healthy regional and national capacity in terms of human and equipment infrastructure. The passionate belief in this positive role for mega-science in society has driven the momentum towards the African Light Source. A combination of African and International leadership towards an African Light Source is embodied in the project for a Light Source in Africa. In just one example, these recent COVID times have seen the Light Source designated as an essential service, remaining open during lockdown, as the front-runner in the fight against this greatest scourge of our decade. Indeed, we would like to see Africa extend its already significant contribution, to combating this disease, and especially others of particular relevance to Africa, as well as those of the next Pandemics. This contribution details the progress on the Roadmap towards the African Light Source, and outlines especially the current and future projects.

Biography: Prof. Simon Connell, Johannesburg University, SA

Prof Connell is Professor of Physics within the Faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment at the University of Johannesburg.  He has research interests in Particle, Nuclear, Quantum and Applied Physics, Nuclear Energy, Materials Science, High Performance Computing and Innovation. He is a past president of the South African Institute of Physics. He is the founding member of the SA participation in High Energy Physics at ATLAS at CERN and also a User of the ESRF. He has published over 170 papers in International Journals and is also an ATLAS author with over 600 ATLAS papers. He has a Scopus H-index of 78 with over 27,000 citations. He is interested in technology and innovation for competitive industry (particularly in peaceful applications of nuclear technology) and has a project on the intelligent sensor-based sorting of diamond in kimberlite. He supports Nuclear Energy, both large scale generation and also Small Modular Reactors. He has worked on Open Source Monte Carlo Nuclear Engineering code development and also on Fibre Optic based on-line, in-core, real-time 4IR sensing for reactors.  He also works on the implementation of the roadmap towards the African Light Source (chair: Exec). He is also on the steering committee developing the current community driven African Strategy for Physics.