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XIIIèmes Rencontres de Blois

(site updated May 31, 2001)

Frontiers of the Universe

17th - 23rd June 2001

The combined Registration and Hotel reservation form is now on the web; click here

The abstract submission form is now on the web; click here

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Links to various forms

Information Bulletin Practical organization
Accommodation Registration fee
Conference location Scientific programme NEW(31/05/01)!!!
Contributed papers Social activities
Funding Travel

Programme committee:
C. Balkowski(France), A.Blanchard(France), L.Celnikier(France), W.Forman(USA), B.Guiderdoni(France), T.Montmerle(France), J. Tran ThanhVan(France),T.X.Thuan(USA), S.Vauclair(France).
International Advisory committee:
J.Beckman(Spain), K.Chitre(India); R.Kolb(USA), P.Lena(France), J.Narlikar(India), F.Pacini(Italy), J.Peebles(US), M.Rees(UK), H.Reeves(France), H.Shibahashi(Japan), J.Silk(UK), D. Southwood(UK), R.Sunyaev(Germany/Russia) R.Wielebinski(Germany), L.Woltjer(France), Xiang-PingWu(China).

Sponsored by:

Conseil Régional de la Région Centre,

European Union,

Ministère de la Recherche,



Ville de Blois.


This is an announcement and call for papers for an international conference which will be held in the Château of Blois, in France's Loire Valley.

Frontiers of the Universe will build on the realisation that during the closing decade of the twentieth century, increasingly advanced techniques have brought us up against new frontiers of knowledge.

With the successful flight of COBE, the search for the origin of the Universe has entered a new domain, the search for the original, possibly quantum, "seeds" around which grew the structures we observe in the Universe today. But while COBE has shown the way, its spatial resolution was insufficient to probe the scales which are of interest to model builders and which would allow us to distinguish between the predictions of competing theories - this can only be done by new generations of instruments, both space-based (such as the European Planck mission and the American Microwave Anisotropy Probe), and ground based or carried by high altitude balloons (as the recent Boomerang flight has so strikingly demonstrated). And these instruments may yet show us that all our current theories are wrong or seriously misleading: the most powerful and ingenious techniques, based on the recalibration of "standard" units using the Hubble Space Telescope, have still failed to yield a physically understandable set of cosmological parameters.

Calibration is indeed a pivotal problem in astrophysics, and nowhere more so than in cosmology. Much depends on believing that the radiation sources used as "standard candles" are indeed standard ... and yet all too often this belief is based on poorly understood and possibly inappropriately applied theory. The theory of stellar structure and evolution has made vast strides in the last few years, with results that could have a direct impact on the way we assess the reliability of cosmological parameter determination.

Do we even know of what the Universe is made? There is increasing empirical evidence that we do not know, that among the material of the Universe that we observe relatively directly is lurking a vast amount of matter whose nature is unknown and which interacts with the visible Universe only via its gravitational field. High energy physics furnishes a wealth of candidates, but cannot as yet make definite predictions; astrophysics has suggested the need for new particles, but can do little else until these particles are actually observed. And there remains the (unpopular) notion that the theories used to assess the importance of this "missing matter" are incomplete.

Last, but not least, radically new windows on the Universe are opening up, revealing new frontiers for exploration. Gravitational wave astronomy will begin in earnest with the termination of the LIGO and VIRGO projects and the planning of the ambitious European space based gravitational wave observatory, LISA; the planetary-wide Auger project to detect significant numbers of ultra high energy cosmic rays (whose origin is completely unknown) will be generating data; ESA's International Gamma Ray Astrophysics Lab will be studying the poorly understood phenomena associated with the most compact and violent objects in the Universe; and finally the neutrino astronomy of objects other than the Sun will begin sometime in the next decade, while neutrino solar astronomy, now a a mature science, is seriously teaching us either about solar structure or about neutrinos.

The commissioning of revolutionary ground based telescopes in the 8-10 metre class, many of them multiple telescopes hopefully operating in an interferometric mode and fully exploiting active optics techniques, hold out the promise of advances at virtually every level of the astronomical enterprise. In addition, these optical telescopes, by their resolving power and unprecedented light gathering potential, will constitute a necessary complement to the new windows being opened up by projects such as VIRGO and LIGO and AUGER. Looking farther ahead, to mention just two projects, planning for a successor to the Hubble Space Telescope is well advanced, while the ground based Large Submillimetre Array cannot fail to have considerable impact.

Frontiers of the Universe will be articulated about the following themes:

  • Cosmic surveying and accounting: changing perspectives on the Hubble constant; cosmic candles and their reliability in the light of on-going work on stellar evolution and structure; different ways to view the Universe, to-day and tomorrow. The material and energetic content of the Universe. Structure in the Universe. The Universe at extreme red shift - from Cobe to Planck via Boomerang. News from the particle physics frontier.
  • The stellar connection: star formation in the Universe; nucleosynthesis; supernovae, hypernovae and the gamma ray burster phenomenon. Discs, jets, accretion and the nuclei of active galaxies.
  • New (and refurbished) windows on the Universe: gravitational wave detection, ultra high energy cosmic ray detection, neutrino astronomy, Xray and Gamma ray astronomy, stellar "seismology", new and next generation ground based telescopes and their impact. Ideas for the first decades of the new millenium.

The Rencontres de Blois are international conferences, whose spirit is explicitly multidisciplinary. They have now been organized for a number of years in the city of Blois, in France, and have covered topics ranging from particle physics to chaos theory, life and planetary science. They are a mix of invited and contributed papers; posters are also very welcome. Young researchers are particularly encouraged to attend and for this purpose we have set aside funds to partially cover their participation.

Frontiers of the Universe is the third of a series of three Rencontres, the first of which, Frontiers of matter, was held in the summer of 1999. The second, Frontiers of life, was held in the summer of 2000.

The conference will take place in the Château de Blois itself, an ancient Royal residence situated in one of the most charming regions of France; lunch and dinner are served in the castle to all participants; the conference format is designed to encourage discussion and cross-fertilization of ideas. Participants are expected to stay for the whole week.

If you urgently need information which is not in the following information bulletin, you may contact L. M. Celnikier, at the email address:



The XIIIth Rencontres de Blois, entitled «Frontiers of the Universe» will be held at the Château Royal de Blois, France, from Sunday, June 17th to Saturday, June 23rd, 2001. The postal address of the conference when in session is:

Rencontres de Blois

Château de Blois

41000 BLOIS, France

The picturesque old French town of Blois, famous for its XIV-XVIIth century chateau, is about 170 km (100 miles) from Paris in the beautiful region of the «Châteaux de la Loire».


The conference will consist of plenary sessions for invited talks, some parallel sessions for relatively short contributed papers, and posters.

There will be a coffee break in the middle of the morning and afternoon; lunch and dinner will be served at the Chateau.

The peliminary programme is as follows; named speakers have confirmed their participation in principle, but the titles of the talks are for the most part at present purely indicative.

Sunday, June 17: arrival in Blois; final registration

Monday, June 18

9h00-9h30: welcome

9h30-11h00: Keynote talks

-- The developing landscape of space based astronomy - S. Beckwith

-- Space in the 21st century - M. Huber

11h30-12h30: Cosmic surveying : Chairman M. Huber

-- Changing perspectives on the Hubble constant - J. Beckman

-- Cosmic candles and stellar evolution - V. Castellani

14h00-17h00: Consmic surveying contd.;

-- What are type 1a supernovae? - J. Niemeyer

-- Galaxy clustering at low and high redshift - C. Frenk

-- Progress in mapping the large scale structure of the Universe - S. Zaroubi

18h00: Guided tour of the Château de Blois

Tuesday, June 19

9h00-10h30: Cosmic accounting : Chairman B. Sadoulet

-- Weak lensing surveys to map the Universe - F. Bernardeau

-- Cosmic inventory of energy densities: issues and concerns - T. Padmanabhan

-- Primordial helium abundance - T. X. Thuan

11h00-12h30: Cosmic accounting contd.:

-- Determining the baryon density - BBN vs CMB - S. Sarkar

-- Direct underground searches for dark matter - T. Sumner

-- Dark energy - seven lessons - M. Turner

Afternoon - excursion, probably to Chateau de Chenonceau and/or Clos Luce

Evening - public talk (in French)

Wednesday, June 20:

9h00-12h30: The Universe at extreme z : Chairman H. Reeves

-- The cosmic microwave background radiation - J. Silk

-- What cosmological models have really been eliminated by COBE and other CMB observations? - M. Tegmark

-- The promise for MAP, PLANCK and co. - A. Melchiorri

-- Can the inflationary paradigm ever be more than a plausible myth? - S. Dodelson

-- A string inspired quintessense model - G. Veneziano

14h00-17h30: New (and refurbished) windows on the Universe : Chairman P. Léna

-- The promise of optical interferometry - A. Quirrenbach

-- The promise of interferometry in the mm range: ALMA - A. Omont

-- Gravitational wave astronomy: observational prospects and theoretical challenges - T. Damour

-- Ultra high energy cosmic rays: where we are now and what the future holds - A. Watson

-- The future of gamma ray astronomy - H. Meyer

-- Viewing the Universe with the VLT - C. Cesarsky

Wednesday evening: conference banquet at the Château de Chambord

Thursday, June 21:

9h00-12h30: The stellar connection Chairman S. Vauclair

-- The formation of the first stars in the Universe - T. Abel

-- Helioseismology and what it has taught us - J. Leibacher

-- Corot/Eddington: space missions to better understand stellar structure - I. Roxburgh

-- Gamma ray bursts - M. Vietri

Thursday afternoon: parallel sessions

Dark energy, dark matter and related topics, in alphabetic order of speaker: chairman M. Turner

Galaxies and related matters, in alphabetic order of speaker - chairman W. Forman Stellar structure, helio and astro siesmology and related matters, in alphabetic order of speaker - chairman C. Cesarsky

Friday, June 22

9h00-12h30: Galactic scale structures;

-- Changing views of how the first galaxies formed - J. Bartlett

-- Black holes in galactic nuclei - the promise and the fact - A. Marconi

-- Microquasars as models of quasars - F. Mirabel

14h00-15h30: Cosmic scale structures : Chairman S. Schindler

-- Cosmic scale magnetic fields - A. Olinto

-- X-rays as tracers of large scale structure - the view from Chandra and XMM - W. Forman

-- XMM-Newton Observatory - capabilities for extragalactic astronomy -D. Lumb

16h00-18h00: Beyond the Big Bang : Chairman G. Veneziano

-- Observational constraints on the topology (global geometry) of the Universe - B. Roukema

-- The Quasi Steady State Cosmology - G. Burbidge

-- A very alternative cosmology - J. Magueijo

Poster contributions will be posted up at the beginning of the conference, and will stay up for the entire duration of the meeting; there is no poster session as such and participants will be free to consult the posters whenever they wish.

Saturday, June 23

Morning: Wind-up talk, given by R. Durrer

Afternoon: departure

Participants wishing to present their work orally in a parallel session should refer to the abstract submission form on this site. Please use this form to enable the programme committee to program the parallel sessions efficiently, since the time available for parallel sessions is severely restricted; you should indicate the time your contribution will take, but be aware that you may be required to shorten it.

Participants wishing to make a poster contribution should also fill in the electronic abstract submission form.

Invited speakers are also requested to fill in the abstract form.


1. Welcome and registration

Participants are expected to arrive on Sunday afternoon, June 17th. Registration at the conference office in the Château de Blois will start at about 15:00 on Sunday, June 17th. A welcome cocktail will be offered to the participants and their families at 19:00. It will be followed by dinner.

2. Conference schedule

The conference will start on Monday, June 18th at 9:00 and will end at 11:00 on Saturday, June 23rd.

The conference room will be located at the Château Royal de Blois.

3. Conference facilities

The following equipment will be available : a slide projector for 5 cm x 5 cm slides and an overhead-projector for transparencies.

4. Copies of transparencies

Speakers are requested to bring a good photocopy of their talk with them. This copy will be kept for display.

In order to make transparencies of the conference available on the web, speakers who have their talks in file format (Powerpoint, PDS, Postscript, HTML) are invited to send them by email to:

5. Proceedings

The proceedings will be edited and published. Participants will receive a copy of the proceedings at no extra charge.

Deadline for submitting the manuscrip: January 1st, 2002.

Instructions for submitting the manuscripts will be distributed at the conference; please be aware that we will require the manuscripts to be in the form of ASCII files (Mac or PC) using the LATEX typesetting convention. No other format or support will be accepted.

6. Registration fee

If you wish to participate in the conference, you should register as soon as possible using the on-line registration form which is on this web site.

The registration fee will amount to FF 1900 or 289.65 Euros.

Payment of the registration fee can be made:

- by personal check in French francs or euros drawn on a French Bank only to the order of Rencontres de Blois, sent to the conference secretariat (if you wish, but prepayment of the registration fee is not obligatory) or on arrival at the conference. To avoid ruinous bank fees which are beyond our control, we will accept neither foreign currency personal cheques, nor indeed any personal cheques drawn on a non-French bank.

- by traveller's checks in French francs, euros or US dollars on arrival at the conference.

- prepayment (if you wish, but prepayment of the registration fee is not obligatory) by bank transfer (remember to add FF150 or 22.86 Euros for bank fees if transferring from outside France) to the following account:

It will take one month for our account to be credited, so please have the bank transfer made before May 20.

In any case, bring proof of the transfer and give it to the conference secretariat during registration in Blois.

Please note that as an educational organization we unfortunately cannot accept Credit Card payment.

7. Accommodation

Hotel accommodation will be available in 3 categories :

one star (*), two stars (**) and three stars (***), all rooms having either a shower or a bath.

Please fill in and send the electronic hotel reservation form (on this web site, together with the registration form).

To secure your hotel reservation, please send us a deposit of 650 FF ou 99.09 Euros,

It will take one month for our account to be credited, so please have the bank transfer be made before May 20. In any case, bring the proof of the transfer and give it to the conference secretariat during registration in Blois.

On your arrival at the conference, the rest of the accommodation costs can be paid by cheque in French Francs or by travellers cheque in French Francs or US dollars. Payment by credit card is not possible. Please avoid cash payment if possible.

Room reservations can only be guaranteed if your registration form has reached the Conference secretariat by April 30, 2001. We apologize in advance if it is not possible to reserve the hotel category corresponding to your request. We will acknowledge receipt of your reservation and the hotel category obtained for you.

Please note that hotel reservations at this reduced cost are made for the whole conference : i.e. from Sunday afternoon, June 17 till the morning of the Saturday, June 23 (lunch included). The total cost cannot be reduced in case of partial attendance. Cancellations of hotel reservations should be made before May 20, 2001. After this date, the hotel will require full payment.

8. Meals

In order to enhance the interactions and exchanges between participants, all participants are requested to have lunch and dinner together. The conference has asked a caterer to serve lunch and dinner in the Château Royal de Blois.

The package cost for 6 days is 1500 FF or 228.67 Euros and will be paid to the caterer on the conference site in French francs (cash) or by cheque drawn on a French bank only ; it cannot be reduced for partial attendance since this is a block booking.

The conference banquet will take place on Wednesday, June 20.

8. Funding

Young scientists (up to 35 years old) who are citizens of a European Union member state, or citizens of Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Israel are eligible for partial accommodation support; however, the number of these scholarships is limited.

Please send your application before April 30, 2001 to:

J. Tran Thanh Van
Universite de Paris-Sud
LPT, Bat. 211
91405 Orsay Cedex, France
Fax: (33) 1 69 15 82 87

An appropriate application form can be found on this web site; since it must be signed by the young reserarcher and his director, it must be faxed or sent by post, not submitted electronically.

Finally, citizens of other countries, especially citizens of Eastern European countries, requiring financial support should write to J. Tran Thanh Van as soon as possible. Note that in these cases, although other restrictions may apply, there is no age limit. If you are in any doubt as to your eligibility or the conditions, please contact MORIOND@TH.U-PSUD.FR

9. Social program

Several social activities are planned during the conference for participants, their families and guests : visits of the Châteaux of Blois , Chambord and Chenonceau, and a "Son et Lumiere" show at the Chateau de Blois. An additional program for the accompanying persons (cost not included in the above) will be organized in collaboration with the tourist office of Blois.

10. Travel

The most convenient way to reach Blois is to arrive in Paris and take a train (SNCF) from the Austerlitz railway station to Blois. most The following schedul (just a few particularly convenient trains are indicated) is approximately valid for this yar. Nevertheless, you would be advised to check with your travel agency.

Sunday, June 17th, 2001 Saturday, 23rd, 2001
Departure from


Arrival in Blois Departure from Blois Arrival in Paris Austerlitz
11 h 02 13 h 05 11 h 16 13 h 46
13 h 39 15 h 38 15 h 39 17 h 25
17 h 15 18 h 46 17 h 22 19 h 54

Blois can easily be reached by car. Take the exit "Blois" on the Motorway ("autoroute'') A10 connecting Paris to the Chateaux de la Loire area (about 2 hours drive). Once in Blois, follow the signs "Centre".


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Abstract submission or Financial Support or Registration/Hotel reservation