Decades of cutting-edge physics research has provided us with major discoveries and launched impressive initiatives in the “Physics of the two Infinites”, the Physics of the very big and the very small. From the exploration of both the immense and the minuscule realms of the universe to the precise measurement of particles like the Higgs boson. This research not only expands our understanding of the cosmos but also drives technological innovation with real-world applications in industry, medicine, and security. Collaborations like CERN exemplify this, with investments in research yielding significant societal benefits. Today, international collaborations are at the forefront of physics research, fostering diverse teams working toward common goals. However, there’s a gap between this research and public awareness, which could fuel misconceptions and anti-intellectual attitudes. To this end, PhysICs fOr all – PICO – aims to support all citizens to increase their awareness of fundamental, cutting-edge physics and of the impact that discoveries in this field have on their everyday lives with a specific focus on equity, diversity, inclusion, and gender equality which will be pervasive to all PICO events and activities. PICO will coordinate Researchers’ Night activities and satellite events in 4 countries (Greece, Italy, France, Spain). The main ERN events will take place on 27/09/2024 and 26/09/2025 in person, with a remote component to open the door of world-famous laboratories and research infrastructures (such as Virgo), which participate in international collaborations. Through events and educational programs across Europe, PICO seeks to engage citizens and students, fostering a deeper understanding of physics and its relevance to society.

The key objectives of PICO are: 

  • Help bridge the knowledge gap between cutting-edge research in frontier Physics and society: Address the disparity in understanding between the public and cutting-edge Physics advancements, emphasising the practical applications, importance of research infrastructures, and opportunities for citizen involvement to combat science misconceptions and promote literacy.
  • Creating an understanding of the impact of research on citizens’ daily lives: Showcase how Physics research leads to practical applications like GPS and internet technologies, emphasising its relevance to citizens.
  • Increasing the reputation of research institutions and strengthening interaction with local/regional authorities: Foster collaboration between science and society requires active engagement. Research institutions provide expertise and educational opportunities, while local authorities support and benefit from scientific endeavours. Effective collaboration fosters mutual progress.
  • Raise interest of students in science and research careers: In order to address the worrying decline in student engagement in STEM fields it is necessary to tackle stereotypes and boost interest in science by showcasing captivating frontier Physics concepts and their real-world applications.
  • Supporting the public recognition of researchers and empowering them to communicate effectively their research: PICO will support the public recognition of researchers in fundamental Physics and make visible to those who do not have easy access to research what they do in their daily routine as researcher in international laboratories and large research infrastructures.
  • Tackling gender stereotypes: Provide role models of successful female scientists to encourage young women’s participation in Physics research.
  • Fostering equity, diversity, accessibility, and inclusion: Ensure equal opportunities for all citizens to engage in and benefit from research activities, with a focus on marginalised communities.
  • Highlighting the European Dimension of the Researchers’ Night: Showcase European excellence in Physics research and highlight EU collaborations and missions, promoting the importance of European investment in scientific endeavours.

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