The 2017 edition of the European Physical Society conference will take place in the Lido of Venice this week, from July 5th to 12th. For the first time in many years -30 as of now- a big international conference in HEP is organized in Italy, a datum I found surprising at first. When I learned it, the years were 26 and I was in a local organizing committee that tried to propose another conference in the same location. Although excellent, our proposal was ditched, and from the episode I learned I should not be too surprised for the hiatus. 
Conference locations are chosen not only based on how strong the proposal is, how good the infrastructure is, etcetera: big conferences bring interest in the field and other important bonuses, just like an Olympiad brings infrastructure. In this respect, maybe one should read the avoidance of Italy for big HEP events in the positive, as a demonstration that in Italy HEP is already thriving. Anyway, four years have passed, and finally we can have a big conference in Italy - one which I helped organize.

As of today the registrants are over 950, so this will indeed be a big conference for high-energy physics standards, and we can speak safely of 1000 participants. The number of scheduled talks is also impressive - so much so I don't recall it exactly, but you can check out the indico web page of the conference and see for yourself.

In addition to the scientific interest of the showcasing of results from experiments all over the world, bringing to the fore new theoretical ideas, and discussing new endeavours, EPS will offer much more. Of course the location by itself is an attraction. Living in Venice, I find July to be among the worst possible months for a visit, as the city is steaming hot and humid, there are way too many tourists, and the lagoon stinks. But if you have never been to Venice you'll love it, I guarantee it!

Besides social excursions and tours of the lagoon and the old town, there will be two things of special interest, which attendees should definitely not miss. One is the concert that will take place in "Sala Perla", the theatre in the Palazzo del Casinò of Lido which is part of the conference venue. The concert will be on July 10th at 9PM. It will feature a rich opera gala program, executed by the "Venice Chamber Orchestra", an ensemble of youths from the Venice area who have shown to perform at the level of well established ensembles. Here is the program:

The other event of interest will take place two days before at the same location (Sala Perla), on Saturday July 8th, again at 9PM. This one, being an event open to the general public, will be in Italian. The event is titled "Universo, tempo zero. Breve storia dell'inizio" (Universe, time=0. Brief history of the beginning"), and will feature a discussion with Fabiola Gianotti (the CERN director general), Antonio Masiero (vice-president of INFN), and Mirko Pojer (LHC operations manager). Music and poetry will accompany the event.

The reason to mention the July 8th public event here is also that at the start it will feature the prize-giving of high-school students from the Venice area who have participated in the "Art&Science" contest. The students were given lessons about the Higgs boson and LHC physics, and then they were challenged to produce artwork inspired by what they had seen and learned. The idea is to build a communication bridge across the gap from Science to Art. 

I was very impressed by the quality of some of the works produced by the young artists, and together with Prof. Giovanni Bianchi (who teaches Contemporary Art at the University of Padova) we selected 17 works that will be exposed to the public, along with many others created by students from other parts of Italy, during the whole duration of the conference. (On the right, a random pick from the works, a collage of Murano glass bits).

If you wish to have a peek at the full 38 works produced by the Venice students, among which are the ones that will win the final prize, please visit the blog of the AMVA4NewPhysics network, the ITN I coordinate. I am putting there the last blog posts with pictures of the works...