Fulbright Flex researcher Johann Rafelski at Wigner Centre for Physics

Written by Fulbright on 06/22/2018. Posted in News

Johann Rafelski from The University of Arizona in Tucson, USA, was awarded a Senior Flex Fulbright Fellowship to visit in Summer 2019 and 2020 the Wigner Research Centre for Physics in Budapest. Eugene Paul Wigner was a Hungarian-American theoretical physicist, engineer and mathematician who won Noble prize in 1963. The Wigner Institute is the largest Hungarian fundamental science research center where the research legacy of Prof. Wigner continues. Rafelski will be given the title “Distingusihed Wigner Professor” by this institute.

Rafelski’s primary host is Prof. Tamás Biró, vice-director of the Institute for Particle and Nuclear Physics, incorporating half of the Wigner Centre. Prof. Rafelski is well known to the Hungarian Physics community, and this relation has roots that go back nearly 40 years, when the young Dr. Rafelski proposed “Strangeness Signature” of the primordial phase of matter, the quark-gluon plasma. At that time a bit younger graduate student Tamas Biro was charged by his supervisor Prof. Dr. Joseph Zimanyi to review Rafelski’s ideas and to improve the mathematical-theoretical description. The effort of Biro and Zimanyi helped Rafelski to refine his proposal further which became one of the corner stones of the research field where, since then, a few thousand scientists perform experiments at largest particle colliders simulating the Big-Bang conditions in the laboratory.

A low level connection of Rafelski with Budapest continued for the following decades. For example after Rafelski started the new conference series “Strangeness in Quark Matter”, within a few years in late ’90s the meeting took place in Budapest. However, a direct collaborative research effort of Rafelski and Biro did not occur even though both work in parallel to this day in several research fields. This possibility has been opened now by the Fulbright Flex Program.

Both researchers seen in the picture came to visit the Fulbright office in Budapest during a preparatory visit June 19, 2018 (Rafelski on right). They are looking forward to a fruitful and rewarding joint effort addressing the most intriguing current questions in the area of fundamental theoretical physics.