Simulators in Chicagoland

Daniel Elvira

Daniel Elvira

From Sept. 28 to Oct. 2, Fermilab had the rare honor and opportunity to host the 20th Geant4 Collaboration Meeting, which gathers detector simulation experts from all around the world every year at a different location.

Geant4 is a simulation software tool developed by a group of about 100 physicists and computer scientists from all corners of the planet to model the passage of particles through matter and electromagnetic fields. Fermilab’s part in the collaboration is seven members strong, contributing to Geant4’s software and physics and leading research on the next generation of Geant, to be run on future computing architectures.

The Geant4 community includes not only high-energy physicists but also scientists in the fields of medicine, space exploration and security. Accurate modeling of HEP detectors enables physicists to select optimal designs and improve algorithms for data analysis. Space applications include the evaluation of radiation hazards to astronauts and spacecraft components. In medicine, Geant4 is used to design machines and sources for proton and ion therapy and design treatment plans for individual patients. All in all, Geant4 has improved the quality and quantity of the physics produced in a varied array of scientific programs, as evidenced during the first run of the LHC particle physics experiments.

For five days, more than 40 world experts met in the One West conference room to discuss physics models of particle-nucleus interactions, software tools to represent the geometry of complex detectors and ways to improve the support experience provided to the user community.

The Geant4 team also came to Fermilab to listen. The highlight of the event was a special meeting with intensity frontier experiments, opened by Chief Operating Officer Tim Meyer, to learn about simulation needs of neutrino, muon and astroparticle physics experiments.

The Geant4 Collaboration Meeting was productive and a success, but not everything was business. We took the opportunity to showcase our beautiful lab, with its unique natural setting and distinct architecture, and took attendees on a tour of the MINOS, MINERvA and DZero experimental areas.

The social program included dinner at a renowned tapas restaurant in Naperville, the celebrated architectural boat tour on the Chicago River, an opportunity to see one’s reflection in The Bean, and Chicago-style stuffed pizza by the Loop. Even the Italians surrendered to our favorite “cheese pie.” With the assistance of the Conference Office, our local organizing committee made sure everything went smoothly. Even the Cubs and the Bears won their games that week, a rare cosmic event some of our colleagues had the opportunity to witness.