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  • Week 24 at the Pole

    2017-06-23T17:28:26Z via NavierStokesApp To: Public

    "Week 24 at the Pole"

    What a busy week at the Pole. It was Midwinter there, marking the halfway point of the long, dark winter. They held their traditional viewing of “The Shining” and celebratory dinner, including salads, menus, and fancy décor. Also last week was the culmination of a station-wide facial hair contest.

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  • World’s biggest neutrino experiment moves one step closer

    2017-06-23T17:28:26Z via NavierStokesApp To: Public

    "World’s biggest neutrino experiment moves one step closer"

    The startup of a 25-ton test detector at CERN advances technology for the Deep Underground Neutrino Experiment.

    People in hard hats install the 311 detector

    In a lab at CERN sits a very important box. It covers about three parking spaces and is more than a story tall. Sitting inside is a metal device that tracks energetic cosmic particles.

    This is a prototype detector, a stepping-stone on the way to the future Deep Underground Neutrino Experiment (DUNE). On June 21, it recorded its first particle tracks.

    So begins the largest ever test of an extremely precise method for measuring elusive particles called neutrinos, which may hold the key to why our universe looks the way it does and how it came into being.

    A two-phase detector

    The prototype detector is named WA105 3x1x1 (its dimensions in meters) and holds five active tons—3000 liters—of liquid argon. Argon is well suited to interacting with neutrinos then transmitting the subsequent light and electrons for collection. Previous liquid argon neutrino detectors, such as ICARUS and MicroBooNE, detected signals from neutrinos using wires in the liquid argon. But crucially, this new test detector also holds a small amount of gaseous argon, earning it the special status of a two-phase detector.

    As particles pass through the detector, they interact with the argon atoms inside. Electrons are stripped off of atoms and drift through the liquid toward an “extraction grid,” which kicks them into the gas. There, large electron multipliers create a cascade of electrons, leading to a stronger signal that scientists can use to reconstruct the particle track in 3D. Previous tests of this method were conducted in small detectors using about 250 active liters of liquid argon.

    “This is the first time anyone will demonstrate this technology at this scale,” says Sebastien Murphy, who led the construction of the detector at CERN.

    The 3x1x1 test detector represents a big jump in size compared to previous experiments, but it’s small compared to the end goal of DUNE, which will hold 40,000 active tons of liquid argon. Scientists say they will take what they learn and apply it (and some of the actual electronic components) to next-generation single- and dual-phase prototypes, called ProtoDUNE.

    The technology used for both types of detectors is a time projection chamber, or TPC. DUNE will stack many large modules snugly together like LEGO blocks to create enormous DUNE detectors, which will catch neutrinos a mile underground at Sanford Underground Research Facility in South Dakota. Overall development for liquid argon TPCs has been going on for close to 40 years, and research and development for the dual-phase for more than a decade. The idea for this particular dual-phase test detector came in 2013.

    “The main goal [with WA105 3x1x1] is to demonstrate that we can amplify charges in liquid argon detectors on the same large scale as we do in standard gaseous TPCs,” Murphy says.

    By studying neutrinos and antineutrinos that travel 800 miles through the Earth from the US Department of Energy’s Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory to the DUNE detectors, scientists aim to discover differences in the behavior of matter and antimatter. This could point the way toward explaining the abundance of matter over antimatter in the universe. The supersensitive detectors will also be able to capture neutrinos from exploding stars (supernovae), unveiling the formation of neutron stars and black holes. In addition, they allow scientists to hunt for a rare phenomenon called proton decay.

    “All the R&D we did for so many years and now want to do with ProtoDUNE is the homework we have to do,” says André Rubbia, the spokesperson for the WA105 3x1x1 experiment and former co-spokesperson for DUNE. “Ultimately, we are all extremely excited by the discovery potential of DUNE itself.”

    Image of particle tracks

    One of the first tracks in the prototype detector, caused by a cosmic ray.

    André Rubbia

    Testing, testing, 3-1-1, check, check

    Making sure a dual-phase detector and its electronics work at cryogenic temperatures of minus 184 degrees Celsius (minus 300 degrees Fahrenheit) on a large scale is the primary duty of the prototype detector—but certainly not its only one. The membrane that surrounds the liquid argon and keeps it from spilling out will also undergo a rigorous test. Special cryogenic cameras look for any hot spots where the liquid argon is predisposed to boiling away and might cause voltage breakdowns near electronics.

    After many months of hard work, the cryogenic team and those working on the CERN neutrino platform have already successfully corrected issues with the cryostat, resulting in a stable level of incredibly pure liquid argon. The liquid argon has to be pristine and its level just below the large electron multipliers so that the electrons from the liquid will make it into the gaseous argon.

    “Adding components to a detector is never trivial, because you’re adding impurities such as water molecules and even dust,” says Laura Manenti, a research associate at the University College London in the UK. “That is why the liquid argon in the 311—and soon to come ProtoDUNEs—has to be recirculated and purified constantly.”

    While ultimately the full-scale DUNE detectors will sit in the most intense neutrino beam in the world, scientists are testing the WA105 3x1x1 components using muons from cosmic rays, high-energy particles arriving from space. These efforts are supported by many groups, including the Department of Energy’s Office of Science.

    The plan is now to run the experiment, gather as much data as possible, and then move on to even bigger territory.

    “The prospect of starting DUNE is very exciting, and we have to deliver the best possible detector,” Rubbia says. “One step at a time, we’re climbing a large mountain. We’re not at the top of Everest yet, but we’re reaching the first chalet.”

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  • The future of the LHC takes shape

    2017-06-23T15:28:16Z via NavierStokesApp To: Public

    "The future of the LHC takes shape"

    View of a short-model magnet for the High Luminosity LHC quadrupole. (Image: Robert Hradil, Monika Majer/

    While the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is at the start of a new season of data taking, scientists and engineers around the world are already looking ahead, and working hard to develop its upgrade, the High-Luminosity LHC. This upgrade is planned to start operation in 2026, when it will increase the number of collisions by a factor of five to ten. Physicists will be able to take full advantage of this increased number of collisions to study the phenomena discovered at the LHC in greater detail.

    This major upgrade to the machine requires installation of new equipment in 1.2 kilometres of the 27km-long-accelerator. Among the key components that will be installed are a set of new magnets: around 100 magnets of 11 new types are being developed.

    More powerful superconducting quadrupole magnets will be installed at each side of the ATLAS and CMS detectors. Their purpose is to squeeze the particles closer, increasing the probability of collisions at the centre of the two experiments. These focusing magnets will exploit an innovative superconducting technology, based on the niobium-tin compound, which makes the quadrupoles’ magnetic field far greater, 50% higher than current LHC superconducting magnets based on niobium-titanium.

    The magnets are now in the prototype phase – shorter models, on which tests are run to assess the stability of the design and the mechanical structure. Last year, two 1.5 metre-long short model quadrupoles were tested at CERN and at Fermilab, in the US. A third short model will soon be tested at CERN.

    In January 2017, a full-length 4.5 metre-long coil – a world record-breaking length, for that kind of magnet – has been tested at the US Brookhaven National Laboratory and reached the nominal field value of 13.4 T. Meanwhile at CERN, winding the 7.15-metre-long coils for the final magnets has already begun.

    The new magnets are being developed through a collaboration between CERN and the LHC-AUP (LHC Accelerator Upgrade Project) consortium, which involves three US laboratories.

    This article is an excerpt from a feature article published here.

    Watch the video!

    (Video: Noemi Caraban Gonzalez/CERN)


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  • Musician Howie Day records love song to physics

    2017-06-23T11:28:14Z via NavierStokesApp To: Public

    "Musician Howie Day records love song to physics"

    Singer Howie Day recorded a parody version of his song ‘Collide’ at CERN (Image: Noemi Caraban Gonzalez/CERN)

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  • Why eggs have such weird shapes, doubly domesticated cats, and science balloons on the rise

    2017-06-22T19:28:34Z via NavierStokesApp To: Public

    "Why eggs have such weird shapes, doubly domesticated cats, and science balloons on the rise"

    This week we have stories on the new capabilities of science balloons, connections between deforestation and drug trafficking in Central America, and new insights into the role ancient Egypt had in taming cats with Online News Editor David Grimm. Sarah Crespi talks to Mary Caswell Stoddard about why bird eggs come in so many shapes and sizes. Listen to previous podcasts. [Image:; Music: Jeffrey Cook]

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  • African School works to develop local expertise

    2017-06-22T18:28:35Z via NavierStokesApp To: Public

    "African School works to develop local expertise"

    Universities in sub-Saharan Africa are teaming up to offer free training to students interested in fundamental physics.

    Header_2:African School

    Last Feremenga was born in a small town in Zimbabwe. As a high school student in a specialized school in the capital, Harare, he was drawn to the study of physics.

    “Physics was at the top of my list of potential academic fields to pursue,” he says.

    But with limited opportunities nearby, that was going to require a lot of travel.

    With help from the US Education Assistance Center at the American Embassy in Harare, Feremenga was accepted at the University of Chicago in 2007. As an undergraduate, he conducted research for a year at the nearby US Department of Energy’s Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory.

    Then, through the University of Texas at Arlington, he became one of just a handful of African nationals to conduct research as a user at European research center CERN. Feremenga joined the ATLAS experiment at the Large Hadron Collider. He spent his grad-school years traveling between CERN and Argonne National Laboratory near Chicago, analyzing hundreds of terabytes of ATLAS data.

    “I became interested in solving problems across diverse disciplines, not just physics,” he says.

    “At CERN and Argonne, I assisted in developing a system that filters interesting events from large data-sets. I also analyzed these large datasets to find interesting physics patterns.”

    Inline_1:African School
    The African School of Fundamental Physics and Applications

    In December 2016, he received his PhD. In February 2017, he accepted a job at technology firm Digital Reasoning in Nashville, Tennessee.

    To pursue particle physics, Feremenga needed to spend the entirety of his higher education outside Zimbabwe. Only one activity brought him even within the same continent as his home: the African School of Fundamental Physics and Applications. Feremenga attended the school in the program’s inaugural year at South Africa’s Stellenbosch University.

    The ASP received funding for a year from France’s Centre National de la Recherche Scientific (CNRS) in 2008. Since then, major supporters among 20 funding institutions have included the International Center for Theoretical Physics (ICTP) in Trieste, Italy; the South African National Research Foundation, and department of Science and Technology; and the South African Institute of Physics. Other major supporters have included CERN, the US National Science Foundation and the University of Rwanda.

    The free, three-week ASP has been held bi-annually since 2010. Targeting students in sub-Saharan Africa, the school has been held in South Africa, Ghana, Senegal and Rwanda. The 2018 School is slated to take place in Namibia. Thanks to outreach efforts, applications have risen from 125 in 2010 to 439 in 2016.

    Inline_2:African School
    The African School of Fundamental Physics and Applications

    The free, three-week ASP has been held bi-annually since 2010. Targeting students in sub-Saharan Africa, the school has been held in South Africa, Ghana, Senegal and Rwanda. The 2018 School is slated to take place in Namibia. Thanks to outreach efforts, applications have risen from 125 in 2010 to 439 in 2016.

    The 50 to 80 students selected for the school must have a minimum of a 3-year university education in math, physics, engineering and/or computer science. The first week of the school focuses on theoretical physics; the second week, experimental physics; the third week, physics applications and high-performance computing.

    School organizers stay in touch to support alumni in pursuing higher education, says organizer Ketevi Assamagan. “We maintain contact with the students and help them as much as we can,” Assamagan says. “ASP alumni are pursuing higher education in Africa, Asia, Europe and the US.”

    Assamagan, originally from Togo but now a US citizen, worked on the Higgs hunt with the ATLAS experiment. He is currently at Brookhaven National Lab in New York, which supports him devoting 10 percent of his time to the ASP.

    While sub-Saharan countries are just beginning to close the gap in physics, there is one well-established accelerator complex in South Africa, operated by the iThemba LABS of Cape Town and Johannesburg. The 30-year-old Separated-Sector Cyclotron, which primarily produces particle beams for nuclear research and for training at the postdoc level, is the largest accelerator of its kind in the southern hemisphere.

    Jonathan Dorfan, former Director of SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory and a native of South Africa, attended University of Cape Town. Dorfan recalls that after his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees, the best PhD opportunities were in the US or Britain. He says he’s hopeful that that outlook could one day change.

    Organizers of the African School of Fundamental Physics and Applications continue reaching out to students on the continent in the hopes that one day, someone like Feremenga won’t have to travel across the world to pursue particle physics.

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  • A speed trap for dark matter, revisited

    2017-06-20T17:28:33Z via NavierStokesApp To: Public

    "A speed trap for dark matter, revisited"

    A NASA rocket experiment could use the Doppler effect to look for signs of dark matter in mysterious X-ray emissions from space.

    Image of stars and reddish, glowing clouds of dust at the center of the Milky Way Galaxy

    Researchers who hoped to look for signs of dark matter particles in data from the Japanese ASTRO-H/Hitomi satellite suffered a setback last year when the satellite malfunctioned and died just a month after launch.

    Now the idea may get a second chance.

    In a new paper, published in Physical Review D, scientists from the Kavli Institute for Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology (KIPAC), a joint institute of Stanford University and the Department of Energy’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, suggest that their novel search method could work just as well with the future NASA-funded Micro-X rocket experiment—an X-ray space telescope attached to a research rocket.

    The search method looks for a difference in the Doppler shifts produced by movements of dark matter and regular matter, says Devon Powell, a graduate student at KIPAC and lead author on the paper with co-authors Ranjan Laha, Kenny Ng and Tom Abel.

    The Doppler effect is a shift in the frequency of sound or light as its source moves toward or away from an observer. The rising and falling pitch of a passing train whistle is a familiar example, and the radar guns that cops use to catch speeders also work on this principle.

    This dark matter search technique, called Dark Matter Velocity Spectroscopy, is like setting up a speed trap to “catch” dark matter.

    “We think that dark matter has zero averaged velocity, while our solar system is moving,” says Laha, who is a postdoc at KIPAC.  “Due to this relative motion, the dark matter signal would experience a Doppler shift. However, it would be completely different than the Doppler shifts from signals coming from astrophysical objects because those objects typically co-rotate around the center of the galaxy with the sun, and dark matter doesn’t. This means we should be able to distinguish the Doppler signatures from dark and regular matter.”

    Researchers would look for subtle frequency shifts in measurements of a mysterious X-ray emission. This 3500-electronvolt (3.5 keV) emission line, observed in data from the European XMM-Newton spacecraft and NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory, is hard to explain with known astrophysical processes. Some say it could be a sign of hypothetical dark matter particles called sterile neutrinos decaying in space.

    “The challenge is to find out whether the X-ray line is due to dark matter or other astrophysical sources,” Powell says. “We’re looking for ways to tell the difference.”

    The idea for this approach is not new: Laha and others described the method in a research paper last year, in which they suggested using X-ray data from Hitomi to do the Doppler shift comparison. Although the spacecraft sent some data home before it disintegrated, it did not see any sign of the 3.5-keV signal, casting doubt on the interpretation that it might be produced by the decay of dark matter particles. The Dark Matter Velocity Spectroscopy method was never applied, and the issue was never settled.  

    In the future Micro-X experiment, a rocket will catapult a small telescope above Earth’s atmosphere for about five minutes to collect X-ray signals from a specific direction in the sky. The experiment will then parachute back to the ground to be recovered. The researchers hope that Micro-X will do several flights to set up a speed trap for dark matter.

    Illustration of a research rocket catapulting an experiment above Earth’s atmosphere
    Jeremy Stoller, NASA

    “We expect the energy shifts of dark matter signals to be very small because our solar system moves relatively slowly,” Laha says. “That’s why we need cutting-edge instruments with superb energy resolution. Our study shows that Dark Matter Velocity Spectroscopy could be successfully done with Micro-X, and we propose six different pointing directions away from the center of the Milky Way.”

    Esra Bulbul from the MIT Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space Research, who wasn’t involved in the study, says, “In the absence of Hitomi observations, the technique outlined for Micro-X provides a promising alternative for testing the dark matter origin of the 3.5-keV line.” But Bulbul, who was the lead author of the paper that first reported the mystery X-ray signal in superimposed data of 73 galaxy clusters, also points out that the Micro-X analysis would be limited to our own galaxy.

    The feasibility study for Micro-X is more detailed than the prior analysis for Hitomi. “The earlier paper used certain approximations—for instance, that the dark matter halos of galaxies are spherical, which we know isn’t true,” Powell says. “This time we ran computer simulations without this approximation and predicted very precisely what Micro-X would actually see.”

    The authors say their method is not restricted to the 3.5-keV line and can be applied to any sharp signal potentially associated with dark matter. They hope that Micro-X will do the first practice test. Their wish might soon come true.

    “We really like the idea presented in the paper,” says Enectali Figueroa-Feliciano, the principal investigator for Micro-X at Northwestern University, who was not involved in the study. “We would look at the center of the Milky Way first, where dark matter is most concentrated. If we saw an unidentified line and it were strong enough, looking for Doppler shifts away from the center would be the next step.”

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  • Week 23 at the Pole

    2017-06-16T17:29:10Z via NavierStokesApp To: Public

    "Week 23 at the Pole"

    The moon was up last week, making it quite bright outside—it almost looks like sunshine. But it’s winter at the Pole, and IceCube’s winterovers have been busy. They had to trek out to the ICL for one thing or another, and they also performed some regular maintenance procedures on DOMs, both in the ice and in IceTop

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  • Top physicists gathering in venice

    2017-06-16T12:29:08Z via NavierStokesApp To: Public

    "Top physicists gathering in venice"

    Top physicists gathering in venicePress ReleaseDanielle Fri, 06/16/2017 - 05:501917

    From July 5 to 12 a thousand physicists coming from all over the world will be in Venice for the European Physical Society biennial conference

    One of the most prestigious physics conferences worldwide, the European Physical Society (EPS) conference on High Energy Physics (HEP), is coming back to Italy after over thirty years. The EPS HEP 2017 edition will take place at Lido island in Venice, which will hence become the gathering point for the international top physicists: around one thousand scientists coming from all over the world are indeed meant to join the conference.

    “The conference has attracted considerable interest and we shall have the chance to discover many exciting new results presented by experiments from all around the world”,

    said Yves Sirois the Chair of the EPS HEPP Division responsible for the physics program.

    The conference will deal with some of the most fascinating themes in physics research and human knowledge: from the origin of our Universe to the Higgs Boson identikit, from the hunt for dark matter to the properties of the elusive neutrino, from New Physics to gravitational waves whose historic discovery was announced in 2016. All of these topics and many more will be discussed during the conference, where many cutting edge results and updates will be presented during plenary or parallel talks or through scientific posters, organised in 13 topics.

    The Medal of the President of the Italian Republic, a prestigious acknowledgment, was awarded to the conference, organised by the Italian Institute for Nuclear Physics (INFN) Padua Division and by the University of Padua Department of Physics and Astronomy "Galileo Galilei". "We are very proud for this prestigious award and for having brought back to Italy this renowned conference after 32 years. We've also had a greater number of registrations and abstracts submissions compared to previous editions, with speakers coming from around 50 different countries", Mauro Mezzetto INFN Padua Division Director and Paolo Checchia INFN physicist, that are coordinating the activities of the local EPS-HEP 2017 organising committee, comment. "Organising properly this event is a great responsibility, this first outcome is the result of the commitment of a team, that is working hard for the success of this major scientific conference", Mezzetto and Checchia conclude.

    EPS HEP 2017 will not only be about meaningful and fascinating scientific results, the conference has a rich cultural program involving high school students and the general public.

    On Saturday 8 July, CERN Director-General Fabiola Gianotti, INFN vice-president Antonio Masiero and the actress Sonia Bergamasco, will be "Palazzo del Cinema, Sala Perla" to weave together scientific dialogues and arts performances guided by RAI science journalist Silvia Rosa Brusin.

    Palazzo del Casinò will host "Art & Science, the colours of the Higgs Boson" an exhibition, supported by CERN, INFN, and the international network CREATIONS. The exhibition will have art works inspired by particle physics themes and works made by high school students that joined "Art and Science Across Italy", and by several students from Venice.

    EPS HEP 2017 Press Conference will be on Friday 7 July, in Venice, in "Sala delle Adunanze, Palazzo Loredan, Istituto Veneto di Scienze, Lettere ed Arti".

    Media Contacts

    Antonella Varaschin
    INFN Communications Office
    +39 06 6868162

    Renilde Vanden Broeck
    CERN Press Office
    +41 22 767-2141 /-3432

    Istituto Nazionale di Fisica Nucleare

    The DAPHNE building. (Credit: Courtesy of INFN)

    The DAPHNE building. (Credit: Courtesy of INFN)

    The National Institute for Nuclear Physics (INFN) is the Italian research agency dedicated to the study of the fundamental constituents of matter and the laws that govern them, under the supervision of the Ministry of Education, Universities and Research (MIUR). It conducts theoretical and experimental research in the fields of subnuclear, nuclear and astroparticle physics. All of the INFN’s research activities are undertaken within a framework of international competition, in close collaboration with Italian universities on the basis of solid academic partnerships spanning decades. Fundamental research in these areas requires the use of cutting-edge technology and instruments, developed by the INFN at its own laboratories and in collaboration with industries. Groups from the Universities of Rome, Padua, Turin, and Milan founded the INFN on 8thAugust 1951 to uphold and develop the scientific tradition established during the 1930s by Enrico Fermi and his school, with their theoretical and experimental research in nuclear physics. In the latter half of the 1950s the INFN designed and built the first Italian accelerator, the electron synchrotron developed in Frascati, where its first national laboratory was set up. During the same period, the INFN began to participate in research into the construction and use of ever-more powerful accelerators being conducted by CERN, the European Organisation for Nuclear Research, in Geneva. Today the INFN employs some 5,000 scientists whose work is recognised internationally not only for their contribution to various European laboratories, but also to numerous research centres worldwide.

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    Istituto Nazionale di Fisica Nucleare
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  • Slowly retiring chimps, tanning at the cellular level, and plumbing magma’s secrets

    2017-06-15T19:29:05Z via NavierStokesApp To: Public

    "Slowly retiring chimps, tanning at the cellular level, and plumbing magma’s secrets"

    This week we have stories on why it’s taking so long for research chimps to retire, boosting melanin for a sun-free tan, and tracking a mouse trail to find liars online with Online News Editor David Grimm. Sarah Crespi talks to Allison Rubin about what we can learn from zircon crystals outside of a volcano about how long hot magma hangs out under a volcano. Listen to previous podcasts. [Image: Project Chimps; Music: Jeffrey Cook]

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  • From the cornfield to the cosmos

    2017-06-15T18:29:00Z via NavierStokesApp To: Public

    "From the cornfield to the cosmos"

    Fermilab celebrates 50 years of discovery.

    Collage: 50 years of Fermilab

    Imagine how it must have felt to be Robert Wilson in the spring of 1967. The Atomic Energy Commission had hired him as the founding director of the planned National Accelerator Laboratory. Before him was the opportunity to build the most powerful particle accelerator in the world—and to create a great new American laboratory dedicated to giving scientists extraordinary new capabilities to explore the universe. 

    Fifty years later, we marvel at the boldness and scope of the project, and at the freedom, the leadership, the confidence and the vision that it took to conceive and build it. If anyone was up for the challenge, it was Wilson. 

    By the early 1960s, the science of particle physics had outgrown its birthplace in university laboratories. The accelerators and detectors for advancing research had grown too big, complex and costly for any university to build and operate alone. Particle physics required a new model: national laboratories where the resources of the federal government would bring together the intellectual, scientific, engineering, technical and management capabilities to give collaborations of scientists the ability to explore scientific questions that could no longer be addressed at individual universities. 

    The NAL, later renamed Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, would be a national facility where university physicists—“users”—would be “at home and loved,” in the words of physicist Leon Lederman, who eventually succeeded Wilson as Fermilab director. The NAL would be a truly national laboratory rising from the cornfields west of Chicago, open to scientists from across the country and around the world. 

    The Manhattan Project in the 1940s had shown the young Wilson—had shown the entire nation—what teams of physicists and engineers could achieve when, with the federal government’s support, they devoted their energy and capability to a common goal. Now, Wilson could use his skills as an accelerator designer and builder, along with his ability to lead and inspire others, to beat the sword of his Manhattan Project experience into the plowshare of a laboratory devoted to peacetime physics research.  

    When the Atomic Energy Commission chose Wilson as NAL’s director, they may have been unaware that they had hired not only a gifted accelerator physicist but also a sculptor, an architect, an environmentalist, a penny-pincher (that they would have liked), an iconoclast, an advocate for human rights, a Wyoming cowboy and a visionary. 

    Over the dozen years of his tenure Wilson would not only oversee the construction of the world’s most powerful particle accelerator, on time and under budget, and set the stage for the next generation of accelerators. He would also shape the laboratory with a vision that included erecting a high-rise building inspired by a French cathedral, painting other buildings to look like children’s building blocks, restoring a tall-grass prairie, fostering a herd of bison, designing an 847-seat auditorium (a venue for culture in the outskirts of Chicago), and adorning the site with sculptures he created himself. 

    Fermilab physicist Roger Dixon tells of a student who worked for him in the lab’s early days.

    “One night,” Dixon remembers, “I had Chris working overtime in a basement machine shop. He noticed someone across the way grinding and welding. When the guy tipped back his helmet to examine his work, Chris walked over and asked, ‘What’ve they got you doin’ in here tonight?’ The man said that he was working on a sculpture to go into the reflecting pond in front of the high rise. ‘Boy,’ Chris said, ‘they can think of more ways for you to waste your time around here, can’t they?’ To which Robert Wilson, welder, sculptor and laboratory director, responded with remarks Chris will never forget on the relationship of science, technology and art.”

    Wilson believed a great physics laboratory should look beautiful. “It seemed to me,” he wrote, “that the conditions of its being a beautiful laboratory were the same conditions as its being a successful laboratory.”

    With the passage of years, Wilson’s outsize personality and gift for eloquence have given his role in Fermilab’s genesis a near-mythic stature. In reality, of course, he had help. He used his genius for bringing together the right people with the right skills and knowledge at the right time to recruit and inspire scientists, engineers, technicians, administrators (and an artist) not only to build the laboratory but also to stick around and operate it. Later, these Fermilab pioneers recalled the laboratory’s early days as a golden age, when they worked all hours of the day and night and everyone felt like family. 

    By 1972, the Main Ring of the laboratory’s accelerator complex was sending protons to the first university users, and experiments proliferated in the laboratory’s particle beams. In July 1977, Experiment E-288, a collaboration Lederman led, discovered the bottom quark. 

    Physicist Patty McBride, who heads Fermilab’s Particle Physics Division, came to Fermilab in 1979 as a Yale graduate student. McBride’s most vivid memory of her early days at the laboratory is meeting people with a wide variety of life experiences. 

    “True, there were almost no women,” she says. “But out in this lab on the prairie were people from far more diverse backgrounds than I had ever encountered before. Some, including many of the skilled technicians, had returned from serving in the Vietnam War. Most of the administrative staff were at least bilingual. We always had Russian colleagues; in fact the first Fermilab experiment, E-36, at the height of the Cold War, was a collaboration between Russian and American physicists. I worked with a couple of guest scientists who came to Fermilab from China. They were part of a group who were preparing to build a new accelerator at the Institute of High Energy Physics there.” 

    The diversity McBride found was another manifestation of Wilson’s concept of a great laboratory.

    “Prejudice has no place in the pursuit of knowledge,” he wrote. “In any conflict between technical expediency and human rights, we shall stand firmly on the side of human rights. Our support of the rights of the members of minority groups in our laboratory and its environs is inextricably intertwined with our goal of creating a new center of technical and scientific excellence.”

    Designing the future

    Advances in particle physics depend on parallel advances in accelerator technology. Part of an accelerator laboratory’s charge is to develop better accelerators—at least that’s how Wilson saw it. With the Main Ring delivering beam, it was time to turn to the next challenge. This time, he had a working laboratory to help.  

    The designers of Fermilab’s first accelerator had hoped to use superconducting magnets for the Main Ring, but they soon realized that in 1967 it was not yet technically feasible. Nevertheless, they left room in the Main Ring tunnel for a next-generation accelerator. 

    Wilson applied his teambuilding gifts to developing this new machine, christened the Energy Doubler (and later renamed the Tevatron). 

    In 1972, he brought together an informal working group of metallurgists, magnet builders, materials scientists, physicists and engineers to begin investigating superconductivity, with the goal of putting this exotic phenomenon to work in accelerator magnets. 

    No one had more to do with the success of the superconducting magnets than Fermilab physicist Alvin Tollestrup. Times were different then, he recalls.

    “Bob had scraped up enough money from here and there to get started on pursuing the Doubler before it was officially approved,” Tollestrup says. “We had to fight tooth and nail for approval. But in those days, Bob could point the whole machine shop to do what we needed. They could build a model magnet in a week.”

    It took a decade of strenuous effort to develop the superconducting wire, the cable configuration, the magnet design and the manufacturing processes to bring the world’s first large-scale superconducting accelerator magnets into production, establishing Fermilab’s leadership in accelerator technology. Those involved say they remember it as an exhilarating experience. 

    By March 1983, the Tevatron magnets were installed underneath the Main Ring, and in July the proton beam in the Tevatron reached a world-record energy of 512 billion electronvolts. In 1985, a new Antiproton Source enabled proton-antiproton collisions that further expanded the horizons of the subatomic world. 

    Two particle detectors—called the Collider Detector at Fermilab, or CDF, and DZero—gave hundreds of collaborating physicists the means to explore this new scientific territory. Design for CDF began in 1978, construction in 1982, and CDF physicists detected particle collisions in 1985. Fermilab’s current director, Nigel Lockyer, first came to work at Fermilab on CDF in 1984. 

    “The sheer ambition of the CDF detector was enough to keep everyone excited,” he says. 

    The DZero detector came online in 1992. A primary goal for both experiments was the discovery of the top quark, the heavier partner of the bottom quark and the last undiscovered quark of the six that theory predicted. Both collaborations worked feverishly to be the first to accumulate enough evidence for a discovery. 

    In March 1995, CDF and DZero jointly announced that they had found the top. To spread the news, Fermilab communicators tried out a fledgling new medium called the World Wide Web.

    Five decades of particle physics

    Reaching new frontiers

    Meanwhile, in the 1980s, growing recognition of the links between subatomic interactions and cosmology—between the inner space of particle physics and the outer space of astrophysics—led to the formation of the Fermilab Theoretical Astrophysics Group, pioneered by cosmologists Rocky Kolb and Michael Turner. Cosmology’s rapid evolution from theoretical endeavor to experimental science demanded large collaborations and instruments of increasing complexity and scale, beyond the resources of universities—a problem that particle physics knew how to solve. 

    In the mid-1990s, the Sloan Digital Sky Survey turned to Fermilab for help. Under the leadership of former Fermilab Director John Peoples, who became SDSS director in 1998, the Sky Survey carried out the largest astronomical survey ever conducted and transformed the science of astrophysics.  

    The discovery of cosmological evidence of dark matter and dark energy had profound implications for particle physics, revealing a mysterious new layer to the universe and raising critical scientific questions. What are the particles of dark matter? What is dark energy? In 2004, in recognition of Fermilab’s role in particle astrophysics, the laboratory established the Center for Particle Astrophysics. 

    As the twentieth century ended and the twenty-first began, Fermilab’s Tevatron experiments defined the frontier of high-energy physics research. Theory had long predicted the existence of a heavy particle associated with particle mass, the Higgs boson, but no one had yet seen it. In the quest for the Higgs, Fermilab scientists and experimenters made a relentless effort to wring every ounce of performance from accelerator and detectors. 

    The Tevatron had reached maximum energy, but in 1999 a new accelerator in the Fermilab complex, the Main Injector, began giving an additional boost to particles before they entered the Tevatron ring, significantly increasing the rate of particle collisions. The experiments continuously re-invented themselves using advances in detector and computing technology to squeeze out every last drop of data. They were under pressure, because the clock was ticking.  

    A new accelerator with seven times the Tevatron’s energy was under construction at CERN, the European laboratory for particle physics in Geneva, Switzerland. When Large Hadron Collider operations began, its higher-energy collisions and state-of-the-art detectors would eclipse Fermilab’s experiments and mark the end of the Tevatron’s long run.

    In the early 1990s, the Tevatron had survived what many viewed as a near-death experience with the cancellation of the Superconducting Super Collider, planned as a 26-mile ring that would surpass Fermilab’s accelerator, generating beams with 20 times as much energy. Construction began on the SSC’s Texas site in 1991, but in 1993 Congress canceled funding for the multibillion-dollar project. Its demise meant that, for the time being, the high-energy frontier would remain in Illinois. 

    While the SSC drama unfolded, in Geneva the construction of the LHC went steadily onward—helped and supported by US physicists and engineers and by US funding. 

    Among the more puzzling aspects of particle physics for those outside the field is the simultaneous competition and collaboration of scientists and laboratories. It makes perfect sense to physicists, however, because science is the goal. The pursuit of discovery drives the advancement of technology. Particle physicists have decades of experience in working collaboratively to develop the tools for the next generation of experiments, wherever in the world that takes them. 

    Thus, even as the Tevatron experiments threw everything they had into the search for the Higgs, scientists and engineers at Fermilab—literally across the street from the CDF detector—were building advanced components for the CERN accelerator that would ultimately shut the Tevatron down.  

    Going global

    Just as in the 1960s particle accelerators had outgrown the resources of any university, by the end of the century they had outgrown the resources of any one country to build and operate. Detectors had long been international construction projects; now accelerators were, too, as attested by the superconducting magnets accumulating at Fermilab, ready for shipment to Switzerland.

    As the US host for CERN’s CMS experiment, Fermilab built an LHC Remote Operations Center so that the growing number of US collaborating physicists could work on the experiment remotely. In the early morning hours of September 10, 2008, a crowd of observers watched on screens in the ROC as the first particle beam circulated in the LHC. Four years later, the CMS and ATLAS experiments announced the discovery of the Higgs boson. One era had ended, and a new one had begun. 

    The future of twenty-first century particle physics, and Fermilab’s future, will unfold in a completely global context. More than half of US particle physicists carry out their research at LHC experiments. Now, the same model of international collaboration will create another pathway to discovery, through the physics of neutrinos. Fermilab is hosting the international Deep Underground Neutrino Experiment, powered by the Long-Baseline Neutrino Facility that will send the world’s most powerful beam of neutrinos through the earth to a detector more than a kilometer underground and 1300 kilometers away in the Sanford Underground Research Facility in South Dakota. 

    “We are following the CERN model,” Lockyer says. “We have split the DUNE project into an accelerator facility and an experiment. Seventy-five percent of the facility will be built by the US, and 25 percent by international collaborators. For the experiment, the percentages will be reversed.” 

    The DUNE collaboration now comprises more than 950 scientists from 162 institutions in 30 countries. “To design the project,” Lockyer says, “we started with a clean piece of paper and all of our international collaborators and their funding agencies in the room. They have been involved since t=0.”

    In Lockyer’s model for Fermilab, the laboratory will keep its historic academic focus, giving scientists the tools to address the most compelling scientific questions. He envisions a diverse science portfolio with a flagship neutrino program and layers of smaller programs, including particle astrophysics. 

    At the same time, he says, Fermilab feels mounting pressure to demonstrate value beyond creating knowledge. One potential additional pursuit involves using the laboratory’s unequaled capability in accelerator design and construction to build accelerators for other laboratories. Lockyer says he also sees opportunities to contribute the computing capabilities developed from decades of processing massive amounts of particle physics data to groundbreaking next-generation computing projects. “We have to dig deeper and reach out in new ways.”

    In the five decades since Fermilab began, knowledge of the universe has flowered beyond anything we could have imagined in 1967. Particles and forces then unknown have become familiar, like old friends. Whole realms of inner space have opened up to us, and outer space has revealed a new dark universe to explore. Across the globe, collaborators have joined forces to extend our reach into the unknown beyond anything we can achieve separately. 

    Times have changed, but Wilson would still recognize his laboratory. As it did then, Fermilab holds the same deep commitment to the science of the universe that brought it into being 50 years ago.

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  • CERN’s American sibling Fermilab turns 50

    2017-06-15T09:28:55Z via NavierStokesApp To: Public

    "CERN’s American sibling Fermilab turns 50"

    This is an RF Cavity in the Recycler Ring in Fermilab’s Main Injector Tunnel, its most powerful particle accelerator (Image: Reidar Hahn/Fermilab)

    Fifty years ago, physicists in the US established a new laboratory and with it a new approach to carrying out frontier research in high-energy physics. It began in the 1960's, when Cornell physicist Robert Rathbun Wilson saw early plans for a new accelerator in the US to rival Brookhaven National Laboratory in New York, and CERN in Switzerland, he considered them too conservative, unimaginative and too expensive. Wilson, being a modest yet proud man, thought he could design a better accelerator for less money and let his thoughts be known. By September 1965, he had proposed an alternative, innovative, less costly (approximately $90 million cheaper than the original) design. It was approved.

    This period coincided with the Vietnam war, so the US Congress hoped to contain costs. Yet the discovery of the omega baryon particle at Brookhaven in 1964 meant high-energy physicists felt that a new high-energy accelerator was crucial to exploring new physics. Simultaneously, physicists were expressing frustration with the geographic situation of US high-energy physics facilities. 

    Groundbreaking in October 1969 for the new 200 GeV Synchrotron (Image: Fermilab)

    Against this backdrop arose a major movement to accommodate physicists in the centre of the country and offer more equal access. Columbia University experimental physicist Leon Lederman championed “the truly national laboratory” that would allow any qualifying proposal to be conducted at a national, rather than a regional, facility. In 1965, a consortium of major US research universities, Universities Research Association (URA), Inc., was established to manage and operate the accelerator laboratory for the AEC (and its successor agencies the Energy Research and Development Administration (ERDA) and the Department of Energy (DOE)) and address the need for a more national laboratory. 

    Today, Wilson Hall, the central laboratory building, is the heart of the 6,800-acre Fermilab site. Following an architectural design competition among the DUSAF firms, it was built between 1971 and 1974. The design was acknowledged in 1975 with an award from the Society of American Registered Architects, and the building was named for Robert Rathbun Wilson on September 18, 1980. (Image: Reidar Hahn/ Fermilab)

    Following a nationwide competition organised by the National Academy of Sciences, in December 1966 a 6800 acre site in Weston, Illinois, around 50 km west of Chicago, was selected. Another suburban Chicago site, north of Weston in affluent South Barrington, had withdrawn when local residents “feared that the influx of physicists would ‘disturb the moral fibre of their community’”. President Lyndon Johnson signed the bill authorising funding for the National Accelerator Laboratory on 21 November 1967.

    Science dedicated to human rights

    “The formation of the Laboratory shall be a positive force…toward open housing…[and] make a real contribution toward providing employment opportunities for minority groups”
    Robert Wilson, Director of Fermilab

    Fermilab’s Betz Prairie was once the largest prairie reconstruction project on the planet. The site now hosts about 1,000 acres of restored prairie and is also home to a herd of bison, a symbol of Fermilab’s place on the frontier of physics. (Image: Fermilab)

    It wasn’t easy to recruit scientific staff to the new laboratory in open cornfields and farmland with few cultural amenities. That picture lies in stark contrast to today, with the lab encircled by suburban sprawl encouraged by highway construction and development of a high-tech corridor with neighbours including Bell Labs/AT&T and Amoco. Wilson encouraged people to join him in his challenge, promising higher energy and more experimental capability than originally planned. He and his wife, Jane, imbued the new laboratory with enthusiasm and hospitality, just as they had experienced in the isolated setting of wartime-era Los Alamos while Wilson carried out his work on the Manhattan Project.

    Wilson and colleagues worked on the social conscience of the laboratory and in March 1968, a time of racial unrest in the US, they released a policy statement on human rights.

    They intended to: “seek the achievement of its scientific goals within a framework of equal employment opportunity and of a deep dedication to the fundamental tenets of human rights and dignity…The formation of the Laboratory shall be a positive force…toward open housing…[and] make a real contribution toward providing employment opportunities for minority groups…Special opportunity must be provided to the educationally deprived…to exploit their inherent potential to contribute to and to benefit from the development of our Laboratory. Prejudice has no place in the pursuit of knowledge…It is essential that the Laboratory provide an environment in which both its staff and its visitors can live and work with pride and dignity. In any conflict between technical expediency and human rights we shall stand firmly on the side of human rights. This stand is taken because of, rather than in spite of, a dedication to science.” 

    The campus brought inner-city youth out to the suburbs for employment, training them for many technical jobs. Congress supported this effort and was pleased to recognise it during the civil-rights movement of the late 1960s. Its affirmative spirit endures today.

    Aerial view of Weston, the site for the National Accelerator laboratory in 1966 (Image: Fermilab)

    Fermilab in 1977, showing the Main Ring accelerator (top) and Wilson Hall next to it. (Image: Fermilab)

    International attraction

    By the 1970's experimentalists from Europe and Asia flocked to propose research at the new frontier facility in the US, forging larger collaborations with American colleagues. Its forefront position and philosophy attracted the top physicists of the world, with Russian physicists making news working on the first approved experiment at Fermilab in the height of the Cold War. Congress was pleased and the scientists were overjoyed with more experimental areas than originally planned and with higher energy, as the magnets were improved to attain higher and higher energies within two years. The higher energy in a fixed-target accelerator complex allowed more innovative experiments, in particular enabling the discovery of the bottom quark in 1977.

    Fermilab has had many successes over the past fifty years, including the discovery of the bottom quark in 1977. (Image: Fermilab)

    Superconducting-magnet technology was the future for high-energy physics, and was championed by Wilson, and a new director to take this forward was sought. Lederman, champion of the "national laboratory", spokesperson of the Fermilab study that discovered the bottom quark, and later a Nobel Prize winner for the discovery of the muon, accepted the position in late 1978 and immediately set out to win support for Wilson’s energy doubler - a colliding-beams accelerator, which would employ superconductivity. Experts from Brookhaven and CERN, as well as the former USSR, shared ideas with Fermilab physicists to bring superconducting-magnet technology to fruition at Fermilab. This led to a trailblazing era during which Fermilab’s accelerator complex, now called the Tevatron, would lead the world in high-energy physics experiments.

    By 1985 the Tevatron had achieved 800 GeV in fixed-target experiments and 1.6 TeV in colliding-beam experiments, and by the time of its closure in 2011 it had reached 1.96 TeV in the centre of mass – just shy of its original goal of 2 TeV.

    A Remote Operations Center in Wilson Hall and a special US Observer agreement allowed Fermilab physicists to co-operate with CERN on LHC research and participate in the CMS experiment. (Image: Maximilien Brice/CERN)

    Lederman also expanded the laboratory’s mission to include science education, offering programmes to local high-school students and teachers, and in 1980 opened the first children’s centre for employees of any DOE facility. Lederman also reached out to many regions including Latin America and partnered with businesses to support the lab’s research and encourage technology transfer. The latter included Wilson’s early Fermilab initiative of neutron therapy for certain cancers, which later would see Fermilab build the 70–250 MeV proton synchrotron for the Loma Linda Medical Center in California.

    A time-lapse of the Fermilab muon g-2 ring being installed and prepped, from June 27, 2014 to June 5, 2015. Replay Animation (Image: Fermilab)

    In 1999, experimentalist and former Fermilab user Michael Witherell of the University of California at Santa Barbara became Fermilab’s fourth director. Mirroring the spirt of US–European competition of the 1960s, this period saw CERN begin construction of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) to search for the Higgs boson. Accordingly, the luminosity of the Tevatron became a priority, as did discussions about a possible future international linear collider. After launching the Neutrinos at the Main Injector (NuMI) research programme, including sending the underground particle beam off-site to the MINOS detector in Minnesota, Witherell returned to Santa Barbara in 2005. Physicist Piermaria Oddone from Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory became Fermilab’s fifth director in 2005. He pursued the renewal of the Tevatron in order to exploit the intensity frontier and explore new physics with a plan called “Project X”, part of the “Proton Improvement Plan”. A Remote Operations Center in Wilson Hall and a special US Observer agreement allowed Fermilab physicists to co-operate with CERN on LHC research and participate in the CMS experiment. The Higgs boson was duly discovered at CERN in 2012 and Oddone retired the following year.

    DUNE,neutrino platform,neutrinos,neutrino,Fermilab
    Currently, prototypes for the future DUNE experiment are being built at CERN (Image: Maximilien Brice/CERN)

    Under its sixth director, Nigel Lockyer, Fermilab now looks to shine once more through continued exploration of the intensity frontier and understanding the properties of neutrinos. In the next few years, Fermilab’s Long-Baseline Neutrino Facility (LBNF) will send neutrinos to the underground DUNE experiment 1300 km away in South Dakota, prototype detectors for which are currently being built at CERN. Meanwhile, Fermilab’s Short-Baseline Neutrino programme has just taken delivery of the 760 tonne cryostat for its ICARUS experiment after its recent refurbishment at CERN, while a major experiment called Muon g-2 is about to take its first results.

    This suite of experiments, with co-operation with CERN and other international labs, puts Fermilab at the leading edge of the intensity frontier and continues Wilson’s dreams of exploration and discovery.


    This article is a condensed excerpt from a feature article by Adrienne Kolb, published in The CERN Courier June 2017 issue, which you can read in full here.

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    Happy birthday! =)

    JanKusanagi at 2017-06-15T16:10:20Z

  • Fermilab en español (ES)

    2017-06-13T17:28:44Z via NavierStokesApp To: Public

    "Fermilab en español (ES)"

    El laboratorio de física de partículas establece una conexión en español.

    Header:Fermilab en español

    Marylu Reyes y su hija de 12 años viven a unas pocas millas al norte de Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, en West Chicago, Illinois, una ciudad de 27,000 habitantes con una población significativa de hispanohablantes.

    Cuando la cliente de Reyes, una empleada de Fermilab, le contó que el gran laboratorio del vecindario estaba organizando un evento totalmente en español, Reyes y su hija apuntaron la fecha con gran entusiasmo.

    Lo que vieron en Pregúntale a un Científico—Ask a Scientist—de Fermilab las cautivó.

    “A medida que recorría el laboratorio, era igual que en las películas sobre la NASA: habitaciones grandes, computadoras, todos esos equipos. Sentías como si pudieras formar parte de ello,” cuenta Reyes, quien escuchó exposiciones sobre aceleradores de partículas, materia oscura y neutrinos. “Fue una gran oportunidad poder presenciarlo… ¡en nuestro idioma!”

    Pregúntale a un Científico de marzo fue la primera vez que Fermilab ofreció Ask-a-Scientist, uno de sus principales programas de difusión pública del laboratorio, en idioma español. De hecho, fue la cliente de Reyes, Griselda Lopez, quien encabezó el esfuerzo. Asimismo, a través del compromiso cívico del Foro hispano/latino de Fermilab, un grupo de recursos, el exitoso evento, que atrajo a casi un centenar de personas, demostró el gran interés en el trabajo del laboratorio por parte de la comunidad latina circundante.

    Pregúntale a un Científico es solo una parte del esfuerzo continuo de Fermilab para llegar a los hispanohablantes.

    En la actualidad, Fermilab se encuentra desarrollando materiales de ciencia en idioma español para el salón de clases. Asimismo, ha organizado en dos oportunidades una conferencia bilingüe para una organización local que alienta a estudiantes latinas de la escuela secundaria a cursar estudios relacionados con la ciencia, la tecnología, la ingeniería y las matemáticas (STEM).

    “Mientras estaba realizando estas actividades de difusión, me di cuenta de que no se trata solo de ciencia,” dijo Erika Catano Mur, una estudiante de posgrado de la Universidad Estatal de Iowa (Iowa State University) participante en el experimento NOvA sobre neutrinos de Fermilab, y quien ha guiado recorridos en idioma español dentro del laboratorio. “Existe un muro que enfrentan los hispanohablantes del cual uno no siempre es consciente. Ellos afirman: ‘Me dicen que me dirija a este sitio web para llamar a tal persona a fin de obtener más información. Y esa persona, ¿habla español?’ De modo que estamos observando lo que ya hay disponible en español y qué más se necesita.”

    Catano Mur aprendió inglés en la escuela en Colombia, su país natal, y habla dicho idioma a diario en el trabajo. Minerba Betancourt, una científica de Fermilab participante en el experimento MINERvA sobre neutrinos, y quien realizó exposiciones en Pregúntale a un Científico, comenzó a hablar inglés de forma regular solo después de venir a los Estados Unidos desde Venezuela para cursar estudios de posgrado. Ella continúa hablando español con su familia.

    “Soy la prueba de que se puede hacer ciencia en tu segundo idioma,” afirmó Betancourt.

    Catano Mur dice que rara vez hace física en español. Por lo tanto, su primer idioma se convierte en su segundo idioma cuando se trata de física.

    “Si estoy conversando con otro hispanohablante en el laboratorio, entonces podemos hacerlo en Spanglish, porque los términos científicos me vienen a la cabeza mucho más rápido en inglés,” afirma.

    Al conversar con no científicos, según Betancourt, ninguno de los idiomas es más difícil que el otro. El verdadero desafío de traducción consiste en pasar los términos técnicos específicos a un léxico sencillo.

    No eran solo científicos los que interactuaban con los participantes en Pregúntale a un Científico. Personal no técnico también estaba presente allí para mezclarse y responder preguntas.

    “Contamos con una vasta comunidad de hispanohablantes en el laboratorio: empleados, estudiantes de posgrado y posdoctorados de instituciones latinoamericanas y estadounidenses,” contó Betancourt. “Cada voluntario aporta algo al maravilloso programa científico en Fermilab.”

    Los participantes acudieron de todas partes, no solo de los suburbios aledaños. Betancourt conoció a una familia de Chicago, que vive a 40 millas de distancia, y otra que vive en Argentina que, casualmente, estaba por la zona.

    Cuando se trata del laboratorio como un recurso educativo, los habitantes de los alrededores son, por supuesto, los que tienen más ventajas, ya que se encuentran a pasos del lugar.

    “Disponemos de una buena comunidad con un gran potencial de estudiantes que podrían ser físicos e ingenieros,” expresa Betancourt. “Esa es una oportunidad que yo no tuve: ir a un laboratorio cercano para observar lo que hacen.”

    Es una oportunidad tanto para padres como para hijos de obtener información sobre carreras científicas.

    “Los padres están muy involucrados. A veces tienen la idea de que si te adentras en la física, solo podrás ser profesor de secundaria y tendrás que llevar una vida solitaria,” sostiene Catano Mur. “Cualquier información más allá de eso es sorprendente.”

    Su objetivo consiste en reducir eso.

    “La comunidad hispana tiene aquí una gran oportunidad de involucrarse en la ciencia. Un laboratorio como este no existe en muchas partes del mundo,” afirma Catano Mur. “Un par de conversaciones científicas puede iniciar el proceso.”

    Reyes ya va por buen camino. Incluso antes de asistir a Pregúntale a un Científico, ella asumió el papel de pregonera, distribuyendo volantes acerca del evento en supermercados locales, en la escuela secundaria de su hija y en su iglesia. Parece haber funcionado: Reyes vio a varios amigos y conocidos allí.

    “Estoy tan feliz de que hayan hecho esto por nosotros. Mi hija dijo: ‘Mamá, esta fue una gran experiencia,’” contó Reyes. “Había oído acerca de Fermilab pero no sabía realmente qué era. Ahora, nos sentimos muy bien recibidos.”

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  • Fermilab en español (EN)

    2017-06-13T17:28:44Z via NavierStokesApp To: Public

    "Fermilab en español (EN)"

    The particle physics laboratory makes a Spanish connection.

    Header:Fermilab en español

    Marylu Reyes and her 12-year-old daughter live just a few miles north of Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, in West Chicago, Illinois, a town of 27,000 residents with a significant Spanish-speaking population.

    When her client, a Fermilab employee, told her the big lab down the street was hosting an event given entirely in Spanish, Reyes and her daughter excitedly marked the date.

    What they saw at Fermilab's Pregúntale a un Científico—Ask a Scientist—blew them away.

    “When I walked through the lab, it was just like the movies about NASA: big rooms, computers, all that equipment. You felt like you could be a part of it,” says Reyes, who heard presentations on particle accelerators, dark matter and neutrinos. “It was a great opportunity to see it — in our language.”

    March’s Pregúntale a un Científico was the first time Fermilab had offered its Ask-a-Scientist, one of the lab’s mainstay public-outreach programs, in Spanish. In fact it was Reyes’ client, Griselda Lopez, who spearheaded the effort. And through the civic engagement of Fermilab’s Hispanic/Latino Forum, a resource group, the successful event, which drew nearly a hundred people, demonstrated the great interest from the surrounding Latino community in the laboratory’s work.   

    Pregúntale a un Científico is just one part of Fermilab’s ongoing effort to reach Spanish speakers.

    Fermilab is currently developing Spanish-language science materials for the classroom. And it has twice hosted a bilingual conference for a local organization that encourages Latina middle school girls to pursue a STEM education.

    “As I was doing these outreach activities, I figured out that it’s not just about science,” said Erika Catano Mur, an Iowa State University graduate student on Fermilab’s NOvA neutrino experiment who has led Spanish-language tours at the lab. “There’s a wall that Spanish-speaking people face that you’re not always aware of. They say, ‘You tell me to go to this website, to call this person to learn more. Do they speak Spanish?’ So we're looking at what’s already out there in Spanish and what more is needed.”

    Catano Mur learned English in school in her home country of Colombia, and she speaks English daily at work. Minerba Betancourt, a Fermilab scientist on the MINERvA neutrino experiment who gave presentations at Pregúntale a un Científico, started speaking English regularly only after she came to the United States for graduate school from Venezuela. She continues to speak Spanish with her family.

    “I’m proof that you can do science in your second language,” Betancourt says. 

    Catano Mur says she rarely does physics in Spanish, since her first language becomes her second language when it comes to physics.

    “If I’m talking to another Spanish speaker at the lab, then it can come out in Spanglish, because the science terms come to me much faster in English,” she says.

    When talking with nonscientists, Betancourt says, neither language is more difficult than the other. The real translation challenge is moving from jargon into plainspeak. 

    It wasn’t just scientists interacting with the attendees at Pregúntale a un Científico. Nontechnical staff were also there to mingle and answer questions.

    “We have a rich Spanish-speaking community at the lab—employees, graduate students and postdocs from Latin American and US institutions,” Betancourt says. “Each volunteer contributes something to the wonderful science program at Fermilab.”

    The attendees came from all over—not just the surrounding suburbs. Betancourt met one family from Chicago, 40 miles away, and another who lives in Argentina and just happened to be in the area.

    When it comes to the lab serving as an educational resource, it is of course nearby residents who have the most to gain, being a stone’s throw away. 

    “We have a good community with a great potential for students who could be physicists and engineers,” Betancourt says. “That’s an opportunity I didn’t have — to go to a nearby lab to see what they do.”

    It’s as much a chance for the parents as for the children to learn about science careers. 

    “The parents are very involved. They sometimes have the idea that if you go into physics, you can be only a high school teacher and have to live a lonely life,” Catano Mur says.”“Any information beyond that is surprising.”

    Her goal is to make it less so.

    “The Hispanic community here has a big opportunity to get involved in science. A lab like this doesn’t exist in many parts of the world,” Catano Mur says. “A couple of science talks can get the process started.”

    Reyes is already well on her way. Even before attending Pregúntale a un Científico, she assumed the role of town crier, distributing flyers about the event at local supermarkets, her daughter’s middle school and her church. It seems to have worked: She saw several friends and acquaintances there.

    “I’m so happy that they did this for us. My daughter said, ‘Mom, this was a great experience.’ Reyes says. “I had heard about Fermilab, but I didn’t really know what it was. Now, we feel so welcome.”

    (Version en español)

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  • High-school physicists win chance to run experiments at CERN

    2017-06-13T14:28:14Z via NavierStokesApp To: Public

    "High-school physicists win chance to run experiments at CERN"

    One of the teams who won Beamline for Schools 2016 perform their experiment using a CERN accelerator beam (Image: Noemi Caraban Gonzalez/CERN)

    CERN today announced the winners of its 2017 Beamline for Schools competition. “Charging Cavaliers” from Canada and “TCO-ASA” from Italy were selected from a total of 180 teams from 43 countries around the world, adding up to about 1500 high-school students. The winners have been selected to come to CERN in September to carry out their own experiments using a CERN accelerator beam.

    With the Beamline for Schools competition, high-school students are enabled to run an experiment on a fully-equipped CERN beamline, in the same way that researchers do at the Large Hadron Collider and other CERN facilities. Students had to submit a written proposal and video explaining why they wanted to come to CERN, what they hoped to take away from the experience and initial thoughts of how they would use the particle beam for their experiment. Taking into consideration creativity, motivation, feasibility and scientific method, CERN experts evaluated the proposals. A final selection was presented to the CERN scientific committee responsible for assigning beam time to experiments, who chose two winning teams to carry out their experiments together at CERN.

    The quality and creativity of the proposals is inspiring. It shows the remarkable talent and commitment of the new generation of potential scientists and engineers. I congratulate all who have taken part this year; they can all be proud of their achievements. We very much look forward to welcoming the two winning teams and seeing the outcome of their experiments  CERN Director for International Relations, Charlotte Warakaulle

     “Charging Cavaliers” are thirteen students (6 boys and 7 girls) from the “École secondaire catholique Père-René-de-Galinée” in Cambridge, Canada. Their project is the search for elementary particles with a fractional charge, by observing their light emission in the same type of liquid scintillator as that used in the SNO+ experiment at SNOLAB. With this proposal, they are questioning the Standard Model of particle physics and trying to get a glimpse at a yet unexplored territory.

    “I still can’t believe what happened. I feel incredibly privileged to be given this opportunity. It’s a once a lifetime opportunity It opens so many doors to a knowledge otherwise inaccessible to me. It represents the hard work our team has done. There’s just no words to describe it. Of course, I’m looking forward to putting our theory into practice in the hope of discovering fractionally charged particles, but most of all to expanding my knowledge of physics.” said Denisa Logojan from the Charging Cavaliers.

    Watch the Charging Cavaliers's proposal video here (Video: Charging Cavaliers/Beamline for Schools/CERN)

    “TCO-ASA” is a team from the “Liceo Scientifico Statale "T.C. Onesti"” in Fermo, Italy, and comprises 8 students (6 boys and 2 girls). They have taken the initiative to build a Cherenkov detector at their school. This detector has the potential of observing the effects of elementary particles moving faster than light does in the surrounding medium. Their plan is to test this detector, which is entirely made from low-cost and easily available materials, in the beam line at CERN.

    “I'm really excited about our win, because I've never had an experience like this. Fermo is a small city and I've never had the opportunity to be in a physics laboratory with scientists that study every day to discover something new. I think that this experience will bring me a bit closer to my choices for my future” said Roberta Barbieri from TCO-ASA team.

    The eight students from Italy sent their video proposal for their project, A blue light in the darkness (Video: TCo-ASA/Beamline for Schools/CERN)

    The first Beamline for Schools competition was launched three years ago on the occasion of CERN’s 60th anniversary. To date, winners from the Netherlands, Greece, Italy, South Africa Poland and the United Kingdom have performed their experiments at CERN. This year, short-listed teams2 each receive a Cosmic-Pi detector for their school that will allow them to detect cosmic-ray particles coming from outer space.

     “After four editions, the Beamline for Schools competition has well established itself as an important outreach and education activity of CERN. This competition has the power to inspire thousands of young and curious minds to think about the role of science and technology in our society. Many of the proposals that we have received this year would have merited an invitation to CERN.”, said Markus Joos, Beamline for School project leader.


    Beamline for Schools is an education and outreach project supported by the CERN & Society Foundation, funded by individuals, foundations and companies. The project was funded in 2017 in part by the Arconic Foundation; additional contributions were received by the Motorola Solutions Foundation, as well as from National Instruments. CERN would like to thank all the supporters for their generous contributions that have made the 2017 competition possible.

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  • How to clean inside the LHC

    2017-06-12T17:28:14Z via NavierStokesApp To: Public

    "How to clean inside the LHC"

    The beam pipes of the LHC need to be so clean, even air molecules count as dirt.

    Cutaway image showing the two beam pipes inside the Large Hadron Collider

    The Large Hadron Collider is the world’s most powerful accelerator. Inside, beams of particles sprint 17 miles around in opposite directions through a pair of evacuated beam pipes that intersect at collision points surrounded by giant particle detectors.

    The inside of the beam pipes need to be spotless, which is why the LHC is thoroughly cleaned every year before it ramps up its summer operations program.

    It’s not dirt or grime that clogs the LHC. Rather, it’s microscopic air molecules.

    “The LHC is incredibly cold and under a strong vacuum, but it’s not a perfect vacuum,” says LHC accelerator physicist Giovanni Rumolo. “There’s a tiny number of simple atmospheric gas molecules and even more frozen to the beam pipes’ walls.”

    Protons racing around the LHC crash into these floating air molecules, detaching their electrons. The liberated electrons jump after the positively charged protons but quickly crash into the beam pipe walls, depositing heat and liberating even more electrons from the frozen gas molecules there.

    This process quickly turns into an avalanche, which weakens the vacuum, heats up the cryogenic system, disrupts the proton beam and dramatically lowers the efficiency and reliability of the LHC.

    But the clouds of buzzing electrons inside the beam pipe possess an interesting self-healing feature, Rumolo says.

    “When the chamber wall is under intense electron bombardment, the probability of it creating secondary electrons decreases and the avalanche is gradually mitigated,” he says. “Before ramping the LHC up to its full intensity, we run the machine for several days with as many low-energy protons as we can safely manage and intentionally produce electron clouds. The effect is that we have fewer loose electrons during the LHC’s physics runs.”

    In other words, accelerator engineers clean the inside of the LHC a little like they would unclog a shower drain. They gradually pump the LHC full of more and more sluggish protons, which act like a scrub brush and knock off the microscopic grime clinging to the inside of the beam pipe. This loose debris is flushed out by the vacuum system. In addition, the bombardment of electrons transforms simple carbon molecules, which are still clinging to the beam pipe’s walls, into an inert and protective coating of graphite.

    Cleaning the beam pipe is such an important job that there is a team of experts responsible for it (officially called the “Scrubbing Team”).

    “Scrubbing is essential if we want to operate the LHC at its full potential,” Rumolo says. “It’s challenging, because there is a fine line between thoroughly cleaning the machine and accidentally dumping the beam. When we’re scrubbing, we work around the clock in the CERN Control Center to make sure the accelerator is safe and the scrubbing is working properly.”

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    Stephen Sekula likes this.

    Stephen Sekula shared this.

  • Discover the hidden treasures of CERN’s archive

    2017-06-09T10:28:11Z via NavierStokesApp To: Public

    "Discover the hidden treasures of CERN’s archive"

    International Archives Day, 9 June, is an opportunity to discover treasures from our shared heritage. The CERN archives contain some 1000 metres of shelves filled with letters, notes and reports. CERN also preserves a large number of films, photos, videos and objects. These precious nuggets contain 63 years of CERN’s history and are a chapter in the unique story that is scientific adventure.

    CERN also owns the scientific archive of 1945 Nobel prize-winning physicist, Wolfgang Pauli. This small, but historically valuable, collection was donated by Pauli’s widow who, with the help of friends, tracked down originals or copies of his letters. His correspondence, with Bohr, Heisenberg, Einstein and others, provides an invaluable resource and insight into the development of 20th century science.

    Read more about CERN archives here.

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    CERN has its own top-level domain? =)

    JanKusanagi at 2017-06-09T11:08:12Z

    Claes Wallin (韋嘉誠) likes this.

    If anybody deserves one, it's CERN.

    Claes Wallin (韋嘉誠) at 2017-06-10T02:08:01Z

  • Week 22 at the Pole

    2017-06-08T21:28:14Z via NavierStokesApp To: Public

    "Week 22 at the Pole"

    Another busy week for IceCube’s winterovers—they were paged several times to deal with crashes and other irregularities. Despite the activity, the detector was quite stable with minimal down time. The station had a special Memorial Day lunch last week, complete with hamburgers and hotdogs. And auroras!

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  • How to weigh a star—with a little help from Einstein, toxic ‘selfish genes,’ and the world’s oldest Homo sapiens fossils

    2017-06-08T19:28:09Z via NavierStokesApp To: Public

    "How to weigh a star—with a little help from Einstein, toxic ‘selfish genes,’ and the world’s oldest Homo sapiens fossils"

    This week we have stories on what body cams reveal about interactions between black drivers and U.S. police officers, the world’s oldest Homo sapiens fossils, and how modern astronomers measured the mass of a star—thanks to an old tip from Einstein—with Online News Intern Ryan Cross. Sarah Crespi talks to Eyal Ben-David about a pair of selfish genes—one toxin and one antidote—that have been masquerading as essential developmental genes in a nematode worm. She asks how many more so-called “essential genes” are really just self-perpetuating freeloaders? Science Careers Editor Rachel Bernstein is also here to talk about stress and work-life balance for researchers and science students. Listen to previous podcasts. [Image: Chris Burns/Science; Music: Jeffrey Cook]

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  • Another year wiser

    2017-06-08T18:28:08Z via NavierStokesApp To: Public

    "Another year wiser"

    In honor of Fermilab’s upcoming 50th birthday, Symmetry presents physics birthday cards.

    Header: Another year wiser

    Some say there are five fundamental interactions: gravitational, electromagnetic, strong, weak and the exchange of birthday greetings on Facebook. But even if you prefer paper to pixels, Symmetry is here to help you celebrate another year. Try these five physics birthday cards, available as both gifs and printable PDFs.

    Like two beams of particles in the Large Hadron Collider, your lives intersected. Tell a friend you’re grateful:

    Have a smashing birthday!
    Artwork by Corinne Mucha

    Like a neutrino, they may change over time, but you still appreciate their friendship:

    You're basically unstoppable. Happy Birthday!
    Artwork by Corinne Mucha

    Whether it's dark energy or another force that pushes them forward, it’s an honor to see them grow: ​

    You expand my horizons. Happy Birthday!
    Artwork by Corinne Mucha

    Let them know that, like dark matter, good friends can be hard to find:​

    I'm glad you're part of the observable universe. Happy Birthday!
    Artwork by Corinne Mucha

    And you’re so glad that, like a long-sought gravitational wave or a Higgs boson, they finally appeared:​

    I'm glad I discovered you. Happy Birthday!
    Artwork by Corinne Mucha

    Can’t wait to send your first card? We happen to know of a laboratory with a big day coming up on June 15.

    PO Box 500
    Batavia, IL 60510-5011

    (Or reach them on Facebook.)

    Print setting recommendations:

    Paper Size: Letter
    Scale: 100 percent

    How to fold your card:

    Fold your 8.5 x 11 inch paper in half on the horizontal axis, then fold in half again on the vertical axis. Voilà!

    Inline 6: Another year wiser
    Artwork by Sandbox Studio, Chicago

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