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ISTC Supports Nazarbayev University's Second International Conference ECL2019: “Exploring the Energetic Universe 2019”

The initiators and organizers of the international conference were Energetic Cosmos Laboratory, Office of the Provost of the Nazarbayev University with the support of the International Science and Technology Center. The Chairman of the Program Committee of the Conference is the founder and scientific director of the Laboratory, the Nobel Prize winner George F. Smoot. Among the invited speakers were speakers from the United States, Italy, Norway, Great Britain, Korea, Kazakhstan, India, Japan, Uzbekistan and Russia.

 Official opening of the Conference









Executive director of International Science and Technology Center,  Dr. David Cleave
Nobel Prizewinner in Physics, Director of ECL, Professor George F. Smoot






The ECL Exploring the Universe 2019 conference involved 5 days of formal talks and social gatherings of scientists from all over the world, including Central Asian regional participants.  Formal talk sessions included those with themes of: astrophysical transients including gamma ray bursts, and gravitational wave, cryogenic detectors and instrumentation including MKIDs, Cosmology, General Relativity and strong field gravity astrophysics, Central Asian Astrophysics, Central Asian Collaboration and Cooperation.









Advisor to President of Nazarbayev University,   Dr. Kanat Baigarin
Vice Provost for Academic Affairs of Nazarbayev University, Dr. Loretta O’Donnell       






We had substantive discussions with our Central Asian colleagues on opportunities to collaborate in all directions between various colleagues in Russia, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, and Tajikistan. Agreements were made to explore cooperation between Kazakh and Uzbekistan, and Uzbekistan and Russian colleagues.

In five days, Kazakh and foreign scientists and leaders in the field of modern science continued to search for new knowledge to study the nature of phenomena in space and processes in the Universe. With the development of modern technology, including tools for diagnosing and recording signals from space based on quantum detectors (including under extremely low temperatures), computer science and computational mathematics, the flow of discoveries in space in recent years has beaten the records of previous decades. This was also facilitated by the accelerated exploration of near-Earth space, for example, many observation devices can now be placed on satellites and space stations, which greatly increased the possibility of recording and detecting signals from the depths of the Universe.

Interview of Professor George F. Smoot and Dr. Kanat Baigarin on mission of the ECL2019 conference:

“Frontier Research programs are critical to all modern countries. Advanced technologies and science shape our world in major ways. About 85% of the world economy now comes from innovation based upon basic science research. 

Even resource rich countries cannot simply produce more gas, oil, coal, and other minerals but must be capable of both obtaining and delivering them more efficiently and effectively as well as build up more areas of their economies as well as make the countries infrastructure more sustainable and robust. Modern fundamental research, such as studying of universe, cannot be considered as a prerogative only for developed and rich countries. These studies are comprehensive for all mankind. The fundamental research of the past nowadays produced the Internet, telecommunication devices, medicines, modern robots, materials, and so on and will give rise to the new products in the future. The time between science discovery and adaptation is shorter and shorter so that a country needs an infrastructure of people doing and understanding science.

The scientific and technical potential that results from such research in international cooperation forms the expertise of the highest quality in developing countries” – said Professor George Smoot.

“Applied science has become a significant part of the economy and real production, therefore it directly affects the competitiveness of products on the world market. Many applied research and technological development become proprietary and the communication of scientists in these areas is reduced by the demand of manufacturers. In contrast, basic research remains open and accessible to scientists around the world. Including research in cosmology, high energy physics and space.

Fundamental research in cosmology and high-energy physics today uses the highest results of science and technology, including big data, artificial intelligence, nano-technology and nano-particles, super-sensitive cryogenic sensors. The training of researchers in these technologies and in the scientific methods then quickly leads to transfer to the commercial sector as a lot of the graduates and developed talents then go to work for companies or start their own.” – said Dr. Kanat Baigarin.

Interview of ISTC Executive director David Cleave to news channels. “In turn, the executive director of the International Science and Technology Center, David Cleave, noted that space science is one of the promising innovative areas for Kazakhstan. “And our Center also supported the holding of this conference as an opportunity to share knowledge and experience in this area," said D. Cleave.

International speakers provided the latest developments and clear insights on the frontiers of physics. For example, Prof. Hyung Mok Lee, President of the Korea Astronomy and Space Science Institute, spoke on the very recent breakthrough of the first imaging of a black hole by the Event Horizon Telescope. He also discussed current and future gravitational wave detection and what we could learn about black holes. Following the conference he visited the Fesenkov Astrophysics Institute in Almaty to connect with researchers there. KASI has been a strong partner of ECL and Nazarbayev University, training several researchers and students, and we expect this and the scientific collaboration to continue: “I would like to thank you for giving me opportunity to take part in the very interesting meeting. I enjoyed the meeting very much, and I hope more productive collaboration between ECL+ Kazakhstan and KASI. My visit to Almaty was very fruitful. I actually visited two places: National Center for Space Research and Technology and Fesenkov Astrophysical Institute. At Fesenkov, I gave a brief presentation on the KASI and its research activities. Young scientists expressed their wishes to visit to KASI and research opportunities. In fact, KASI will be hosting the 11th Korea-China-Kazakhstan meeting on stellar dynamics and gravitational waves in December this year. A few members will attend this upcoming meeting. Chingis Omarov, Chair of the National Center for Space Research and Technology, was also at my talk and expressed interests in collaboration in space astronomy. More specifically, he wants to get advises from KASI members for the development of space astronomy in Kazakhastan. I am more than happy to help within my capacity”.

Prof. David Mota from the University of Oslo, Norway remarked on the excellent interdisciplinary aspect of the conference: "I have learned a lot and have broadened my knowledge in a very important way. Therefore, I would like to say thank you very very much for the invitation. It was indeed a very nice, pleasant and well organized meeting with many interesting discussions and talks!” He is already planning to investigate research collaboration and education opportunities between Norway and Kazakhstan. 

Dr. Alina Kiessling from NASA JPL and California Institute of Technology, USA presented a very well attended public lecture that attracted many students, especially women, and the NU community. She further participated in several outreach meetings with women students and researchers in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) fields at NU, and discussed science connection with the NU Vice Provost for Academic Affairs, Dr. Loretta O’Donnell. 

Participant Professor Pawan Kumar of University of Texas at Austin met with our scientific staff, and we assigned tasks for a collaboration to study transient Fast Radio Burst sources.  Our young Kazakh postdoc Bekdaulet Shukirgaliyev has been assigned a significant new role involving analysis of the TNG cosmology simulations, perform by his German (EU) collaborations.  Other members of the collaboration were assigned tasks of investigation of red shift identification techniques for future sources, emission mechanism work, and work on sensitivity of DM fluctuations to He-II emission fluctuations.

Johannes Hubmayr (USA)  and Keiran O"Brien (UK), and Osamu Tajima (Japan), noted experts in cryogenic sensors, and Jie Hu, Postdoc at APC (France/EU), toured our cryogenic sensor lab and gave a number of concrete suggestions about magnetic shielding, bringing illuminating signals into our cryostat, and other experimental details. Special absorptive material was given to us for use in our experiments.  In exchange, we shared our experience on our more newly purchased equipment, helping others decide on their next equipment acquisitions.

Prof. Hyung Mok Lee, President of the Korea Astronomy and Space Science Institute

Prof. Bobomurat Ahmedov from the Ulug Bek Astrophysical Institute, Tashkent and the Uzbekistan Academy of Sciences spoke on the intersection between energetic processes from compact objects such as neutron stars and black holes, and the astronomical detection. He discussed with several ECL members the collaborative and observing opportunities between Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, at both his institute and at Maidanak Observatory, one of the best astronomical observing sites in Asia.