The Global Community of Particle Physics

This account brings you hot items from public particle physics news sources, including CERN,, and

  • A boost to precision measurements in the neutrino sector

    2018-03-16T14:28:27Z via NavierStokesApp To: Public

    "A boost to precision measurements in the neutrino sector"

    With better and larger neutrino telescopes on the horizon, researchers are now designing more efficient analysis techniques that will boost our understanding of neutrinos and advance searches for new physics, including additional neutrino flavors or new interactions. These techniques not only provide more accurate and robust results but also reduce expenses and time in computation that could limit improvements in the design of new detectors or the discovery potential of existing facilities. Details of these new techniques are given in a paper by the IceCube-Gen2 Collaboration submitted this week to Computer Physics Communications.

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  • How humans survived an ancient volcanic winter and how disgust shapes ecosystems

    2018-03-15T18:28:35Z via NavierStokesApp To: Public

    "How humans survived an ancient volcanic winter and how disgust shapes ecosystems"

    When Indonesia’s Mount Toba blew its top some 74,000 years ago, an apocalyptic scenario ensued: Tons of ash and debris entered the atmosphere, coating the planet in ash for 2 weeks straight and sending global temperatures plummeting. Despite the worldwide destruction, humans survived. Sarah Crespi talks with Online News Editor Catherine Matacic about how life after Toba was even possible—were humans decimated, or did they rally in the face of a suddenly extra hostile planet? Next, Julia Buck of the University of California, Santa Barbara, joins Sarah to discuss her Science commentary piece on landscapes of disgust. You may have heard of a landscape of fear—how a predator can influence an ecosystem not just by eating its prey, but also by introducing fear into the system, changing the behavior of many organisms. Buck and colleagues write about how disgust can operate in a similar way: Animals protect themselves from parasites and infection by avoiding disgusting things such as dead animals of the same species or those with disease. This week’s episode was edited by Podigy. Listen to previous podcasts. [Image: Emma Forsber/Flickr; Music: Jeffrey Cook]

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  • CERN pays tribute to Stephen Hawking

    2018-03-14T09:28:34Z via NavierStokesApp To: Public

    "CERN pays tribute to Stephen Hawking"

    Stephen Hawking during a visit to the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) tunnel in March 2013, prior to the Inaugural Fundamental Physics Prize Ceremony in Geneva. (Image: Laurent Egli/CERN)

    Theoretical physicist, Stephen Hawking has died today, 14 March, aged 76.

    “Hawking’s results have a great impact on theoretical research done at CERN”, states Gian Giudice, Head of Theoretical Physics at CERN.

    “For me, the highlights of Hawking’s work are in black hole physics and the origin of the universe: Hawking radiation and thermodynamics of black holes, area theorem on black-hole horizon surface and the Hartle-Hawking state of the primordial universe,” explains Giudice.

    Stephen Hawking at CERN in 2009
    Professor Stephen Hawking giving a conference “The Creation of the Universe” in the main CERN auditorium in September 2009. (Image: Maximilien Brice/CERN)

    “Stephen Hawking was one of the giants, and stars, of physics of the past century. He has inspired a whole generation with his ability to present complex science in a popular way,” continues Eckhard Elsen, CERN Director for Research and Computing. “He spurred interest in black holes and the physics related to it, including future gravitational wave experiments.”

    Stephen Hawking at CERN in 2006
    Stephen Hawking during his tour of the ATLAS cavern in 2006 with (left to right) theorist Thomas Hertog, ATLAS spokesperson Peter Jenni and ATLAS deputy spokesperson, and now CERN Director-General, Fabiola Gianotti. (Image: Maximilien Brice and Claudia Marcelloni/CERN)

    “Each time Stephen Hawking visited CERN, we were impressed by his great enthusiasm, vitality and passion for knowledge. He was a brilliant example on how to face disease with courage. He was a warrior.” – Fabiola Gianotti, CERN Director-General.

    “A giant of our field has left us, but his immortal contributions will remain forever.” – Gian Giudice, Head of Theoretical Physics at CERN.



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  • Successo per FameLab L’Aquila. Ora appuntamento a Roma per la selezione nazionale

    2018-03-12T09:28:40Z via NavierStokesApp To: Public

    "Successo per FameLab L’Aquila. Ora appuntamento a Roma per la selezione nazionale"

    Satelliti, nanotecnologie, raggi cosmici, medicina, universo e chimica: questi gli argomenti trattati dai ricercatori e dagli studenti universitari che oggi, 9 marzo, si sono sfidati a suon di parole,

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  • Accelerator hibernation ends

    2018-03-09T09:28:28Z via NavierStokesApp To: Public

    "Accelerator hibernation ends"

    Today, 9 March, marks the end of CERN’s annual winter shut down. The Laboratory’s massive accelerator complex will soon begin to lumber out of its winter hibernation and resume accelerating and colliding particles.

    But while the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) has not been filled with protons since the Year-End Technical Stop (YETS) began on 4 December 2017, its tunnels and experimental caverns have been packed with people performing maintenance and repairs as well as testing components for future accelerators.

    Watch this short overview of activities from around the LHC ring during the YETS (Video: CERN)

    Today, CERN’s Engineering department hands the accelerator complex back to the Beams department, who will commence hardware commissioning for 2018. This commissioning will culminate in the restart of the LHC, planned for early April.

    Find out more about what has been happening during the winter shutdown for the LHC, the injectors and the experiments.

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  • Animals that don’t need people to be domesticated; the astonishing spread of false news; and links between gender, sexual orientation, and speech

    2018-03-08T19:28:39Z via NavierStokesApp To: Public

    "Animals that don’t need people to be domesticated; the astonishing spread of false news; and links between gender, sexual orientation, and speech"

    Did people domesticate animals? Or did they domesticate themselves? Online News Editor David Grimm talks with Sarah Crespi about a recent study that looked at self-domesticating mice. If they could go it alone, could cats or dogs have done the same in the distant past? Next, Sinan Aral of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge joins Sarah to discuss his work on true and false rumor cascades across all of Twitter, since its inception. He finds that false news travels further, deeper, and faster than true news, regardless of the source of the tweet, the kind of news it was, or whether bots were involved. In a bonus segment recording during a live podcasting event at the AAAS Annual Meeting in Austin, Sarah first speaks with Ben Munson of the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis about markers of gender and sexual orientation in spoken language and then Adrienne Hancock of The George Washington University in Washington, D.C., talks about using what we know about gender and communication to help transgender women change their speech and communication style. Live recordings sessions at the AAAS meeting were supported by funds from the European Commission. This week’s episode was edited by Podigy. Listen to previous podcasts. [Image: Rudolf Jakkel (CC0); Music: Jeffrey Cook]

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  • Week 9 at the Pole

    2018-03-08T17:28:28Z via NavierStokesApp To: Public

    "Week 9 at the Pole"

    The fuel arch under the station is one of the coldest—and creepiest—places at the Pole, accessed from a network of underground ice tunnels. The tunnels maintain an even temperature of around -50 °C at all times.

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  • Making antimatter transportable

    2018-03-07T16:28:27Z via NavierStokesApp To: Public

    "Making antimatter transportable"

    Antimatter’s journey between the ELENA and ISOLDE facilities (Image: CERN)

    Antimatter vanishes instantly when it meets matter. But researchers have developed ways to trap it and increase its lifespan in order to use it to study matter. A new project called PUMA (antiProton Unstable Matter Annihilation) aims to trap a record one billion antiprotons at CERN’s GBAR experiment at the ELENA facility and keep them for several weeks. Such a long storage time would allow the trapped antiprotons to be loaded into a van and transported to the neighbouring ISOLDE ion-beam facility located a few hundred metres away. At ISOLDE, the antiprotons would then be collided with radioactive ions so that exotic nuclear phenomena could be studied.

    To trap the antiprotons for long enough for them to be transported and used at ISOLDE, PUMA plans to use a 70-cm-long “double-zone” trap inside a one-tonne superconducting solenoid magnet and keep it under an extremely high vacuum (10-17 mbar) and at cryogenic temperature (4 K). The so-called storage zone of the trap will confine the antiprotons, while the second zone will host collisions between the antiprotons and radioactive nuclei that are produced at ISOLDE but decay too rapidly to be transported and studied elsewhere.

    The project hopes to study the properties of radioactive nuclei by measuring the pion particles emitted in the collisions between the nuclei and the antiprotons. Such measurements would help determine how often the antiprotons annihilate with the nuclei’s protons or neutrons, and, therefore, their relative densities at the surface of the nucleus. The relative densities would then indicate whether the nuclei have exotic properties, such as thick neutron skins, which correspond to a significantly higher density of neutrons than protons at the nuclear surface, and extended halos of protons or neutrons around the nuclear core.

    Today, CERN is the only place in the world where low-energy antiprotons are produced, but “this project might lead to the democratisation of the use of antimatter”, says Alexandre Obertelli, a physicist from the Darmstadt technical university (TU Darmstadt) who is leading the project. He plans to build and develop the solenoid, trap and detector in the coming two years, with the aim of producing the first collisions at CERN in 2022.

    Obertelli was awarded an ERC Consolidator Grant from the European Research Council and the five-year PUMA project was launched in January this year. Along with researchers from RIKEN in Japan and CEA Saclay and IPN Orsay in France, he has submitted a letter of intent to CERN’s experiment committee to pave the way towards PUMA becoming a CERN-recognised experiment.

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  • CERN meets industry at the Big Science Business Forum

    2018-03-05T11:28:28Z via NavierStokesApp To: Public

    "CERN meets industry at the Big Science Business Forum"

    CERN director for accelerators and technology, Frédérick Bordry, highlighted procurement opportunities for the High Luminosity LHC upgrade project. (Image credit: Morten Nørulf/BSBF)

    Big science equals big business, whether it is manufacturing giant superconducting magnets for particle colliders or perfecting mirror coatings for space telescopes. Last week, the Big Science Business Forum (BSBF), in Copenhagen, Denmark, saw more than 1000 delegates from more than 500 companies and organisations spanning 30 countries discuss opportunities in the current big-science landscape.

    Nine of the world’s largest research facilities – CERN, EMBL, ESA, ESO, ESRF, ESS, European XFEL, F4E and ILL – offered insights into procurement opportunities and orders worth billions of euros for European companies in the coming years. These range from advisory engineering work and architectural tasks, to advanced technical equipment, construction projects and radiation-resistant materials. A further nine organisations also joined the conference programme: ALBA, DESY, ELI-NP, ENEA, FAIR, MAX IV, SCK•CEN – MYRRHA, PSI and SKA, gathering 18 of the world’s most advanced big-science organisations under one roof.

    CERN participants presented 19 of the 120 talks, covering not only the business and knowledge transfer opportunities in general, but also the specifics of the CERN environment. Many focussed on the upcoming contracts for the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) upgrade: the High Luminosity LHC project. As well as material, power and electrical engineering and the manufacturing of components, talks looked at the needs for vacuum technology, radio-frequency systems, beam instrumentation, industrial controls, computing and safety.

    The big-science market is currently fragmented by various different quality standards and procurement procedures of the different laboratories. BSBF provided a space to discuss the entry challenges for businesses and suppliers – including small- and medium-sized enterprises – that can be valuable business partners for big science projects. 

    "The vision behind BSBF is to provide an important stepping stone towards establishing a stronger, more transparent and efficient big-science market in Europe and we hope that this will be the first of a series of BSBF in different European cities," said Agnete Gersing of the Danish ministry for higher education and science during the opening address.

    The event, which ran from 26 to 28 February, featured around 800 one-to-one business meetings. Parallel sessions covered 16 topics concerning big science as a business area, addressing topics such as the investment potential and best practices of Europe’s big-science market.

    “Much of the most advanced research takes place at big-science facilities, and their need for high-tech solutions provides great innovation and growth opportunities for private companies,” said Danish minister for higher education and science, Søren Pind.

    Find out more about doing business with CERN and about the industrial opportunities of the new High Luminosity LHC project via CERN’s procurement website

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  • Week 8 at the Pole

    2018-03-01T22:28:31Z via NavierStokesApp To: Public

    "Week 8 at the Pole"

    A quiet week at the Pole. And when the quiet stems from a well-behaved detector, there’s nothing to complain about. IceCube winter Johannes and others took advantage of the remaining daylight to get in some Frisbee while they still can.

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  • A new dark matter signal from the early universe, massive family trees, and how we might respond to alien contact

    2018-03-01T20:28:29Z via NavierStokesApp To: Public

    "A new dark matter signal from the early universe, massive family trees, and how we might respond to alien contact"

    For some time after the big bang there were no stars. Researchers are now looking at cosmic dawn—the time when stars first popped into being—and are seeing hints of dark matter’s influence on supercold hydrogen clouds. News Writer Adrian Cho talks with Sarah Crespi about how this observation was made and what it means for our understanding of dark matter. Sarah also interviews Joanna Kaplanis of the Wellcome Sanger Institute in Hinxton, U.K., about constructing enormous family trees based on an online social genealogy platform. What can we learn from the biggest family tree ever built—with 13 million members spanning 11 generations? In a bonus segment recording during a live podcasting event at the AAAS Annual Meeting in Austin, Sarah talks with Michael Varnum of Arizona State University in Tempe about what people think they will do if humanity comes into contact with aliens that just happen to be microbes. Live recordings sessions at the AAAS meeting were supported by funds from the European Commission. This week’s episode was edited by Podigy. Listen to previous podcasts. [Image: Kilo-Degree Survey Collaboration/H. Hildebrandt & B. Giblin/ESO; Music: Jeffrey Cook]

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  • LIVE: From the LHC tunnel

    2018-02-28T08:28:30Z via NavierStokesApp To: Public

    "LIVE: From the LHC tunnel"

    The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is the world’s largest and most powerful particle accelerator (Image: Maximilien Brice/Julien Ordan/CERN)

    Join CERN today, 28 February 2018, at 4pm (CET), when we will be live for the first time on Facebook from the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) tunnel, 100 metres underground. 

    This is the last chance to go to the LHC tunnel before the CERN accelerators complex restarts soon. Our scientists will be answering your questions as well as explaining how CERN’s accelerators work and why they stop in winter, and what physicists are up to when there’s no beams and no collisions.

    Find out more about what has been happening during the winter shutdown for the LHCinjectors and the experiments.

    Watch the live on Facebook or below, from 4pm.

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  • Week 7 at the Pole

    2018-02-26T17:28:36Z via NavierStokesApp To: Public

    "Week 7 at the Pole"

    That’s it—the South Pole station is officially closed for the season. The few remaining summer people have departed on the last plane out, which brought to the Pole a nice supply of “freshies,” as they like to refer to their perishable produce.

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  • The long road to Linac4

    2018-02-26T10:28:32Z via NavierStokesApp To: Public

    "The long road to Linac4"

    Linac4 is CERN’s newest accelerator. It was inaugurated in May 2017. (Image: Maximilien Brice/CERN)

    CERN’s newest accelerator, Linac4, is on its way to join the LHC injection chain. It was inaugurated in May 2017, after two decades of design and construction.

    For the past 40 years, CERN’s accelerator complex has been served by Linac2, which is still injecting protons into the PS and SPS from where they end up in the Large Hadron Collider (LHC).

    Although the construction of this workhorse of the CERN accelerator chain was an important step forward for CERN, and contributed to major physics discoveries, including the W, Z and Higgs bosons, Linac2’s relatively low energy and intensity are not compatible with the demanding requirements of the LHC luminosity upgrade (HL-LHC). For this reason, in 2007, it was decided to replace Linac2 with a more suitable injector for the LHC’s future.

    A decade later, in spring 2017, the 160 MeV Linac4 was fully commissioned and entered a stand-alone operation run to assess and improve its reliability, prior to being connected to the CERN accelerator complex. The machine’s overall availability during this initial run reached 91 per cent – an amazing value for an accelerator whose beam commissioning was completed only a few months earlier. The Linac4 reliability run will continue well into 2018, sending the beam round-the-clock to a dump located at the end of the accelerating section under the supervision of the CERN Control Centre (CCC) operation team.

    Linac4 will be connected to the next accelerator in the chain, the PSB, in 2019 at the beginning of the LHC Long Shutdown 2. Test beams will be made available to the PSB as soon as 2020, and from 2021 all protons at CERN will come from the new Linac4, marking the end of a 20 year-long journey of design and construction that has raised many challenges and inspired innovative solutions.

    It’s expected that Linac4 will have a long life – at least as long as Linac2 – and play a vital role at the high-luminosity LHC and beyond.

    Learn more about Linac4 in this CERN Courier article

    A virtual tour of linac4. (Video: Audiovisual Production Service/CERN)

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  • Fifty years since Charpak revolutionised particle detectors

    2018-02-23T08:28:34Z via NavierStokesApp To: Public

    "Fifty years since Charpak revolutionised particle detectors"

    Georges Charpak’s 'multiwire proportional chamber' particle detector consisted of many parallel wires, each connected to individual amplifiers. Linked to a computer, it could achieve a counting rate a thousand times better than existing detection techniqu

    Fifty years ago today, Georges Charpak revolutionised particle detection while working at CERN when his paper detailing the invention of a new particle detection system, was published. The new detector technique could record millions of particle tracks each second, instead of the one or two tracks captured by earlier methods. The first multiwire proportional chamber was born.

    Until 1968, most detection in particle physics meant examining thousands of photographs from bubble or spark chambers, flash tubes or scintillation counters, to look for interesting tracks left behind from the debris of particle collisions. Discovering new particles or phenomenon often meant searching for rare one-in-a-billion interactions.  These early photographic methods were not able to quickly choose that one, making the discovery of new particles and new phenomenon time-consuming, painstaking work.

    Then came a revolution in transistor amplifiers. While a camera can detect a spark, a detector wire connected to an amplifier can detect a much smaller effect. Georges Charpak realised that with modern electronics, and by connecting the detector directly to a computer, you could dramatically increase data collection. On 23 February 1968, he and colleagues published a paper entitled “the use of multiwire proportional counters to select and localize charged particles”.

    The multiwire proportional chamber used a much older piece of equipment – the proportional counter, such as a Geiger Müller tube – in a new way.

    In a proportional counter, an electrical voltage is applied to a gas-filled tube with a wire running through its centre. The voltage ionises the gas, as negatively-charged electrons are liberated from the gas atoms and move towards the wire in the centre. Here the high electrical field means these negative ions move faster, ionising more of the gas, freeing more electrons to be accelerated, and so on. This avalanche of ions creates an electrical signal on the wire, which shows the position of the first ionisation.

    Charpak proposed, instead of a tube and a single wire, to use a gas-filled box with a large number of parallel detector wires running through it. Each wire was connected to individual amplifiers, so acted as an independent proportional counter. When linked to a computer, this could achieve a counting rate a thousand times better than any existing detectors.

    The invention revolutionised particle detection, pushing it into the electronic era.

    In 1992 Charpak won the Physics Nobel Prize for his “breakthrough in the technique for exploring the innermost parts of matter”, and today many experiments in particle physics routinely use some type of track detector based on the principle of Charpak’s multiwire proportional chamber. It has contributed to important discoveries in particle physics including the charm quark, the W and Z bosons, and the gluon, and it has had several other applications in medicine and biology.

    Find out more in the CERN Courier:

    An interview with George Charpak on the occasion of his 85th birthday.

    A tribute to George Charpak by his friend and colleague, Ioannis Giomataris.

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  • Neandertals that made art, live news from the AAAS Annual Meeting, and the emotional experience of being a scientist

    2018-02-22T19:28:20Z via NavierStokesApp To: Public

    "Neandertals that made art, live news from the AAAS Annual Meeting, and the emotional experience of being a scientist"

    We talk about the techniques of painting sleuths, how to combat alternative facts or “fake news,” and using audio signposts to keep birds from flying into buildings. For this segment, David Grimm—online news editor for Science—talks with host Sarah Crespi as part of a live podcast event from the AAAS Annual Meeting in Austin. Sarah also interviews Science News Editor Tim Appenzeller about Neandertal art. The unexpected age of some European cave paintings is causing experts to rethink the mental capabilities of our extinct cousins. For the monthly books segment, Jen Golbeck interviews with William Glassley about his book, A Wilder Time: Notes from a Geologist at the Edge of the Greenland Ice. Listen to previous podcasts. [Image: Marcus Trienke/Flickr; Music: Jeffrey Cook]

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  • Collimators: the LHC’s bodyguards

    2018-02-21T11:28:25Z via NavierStokesApp To: Public

    "Collimators: the LHC’s bodyguards"

    Installation of a collimator in the LHC. Collimators protect the sensitive equipment from escaping particles. (Image: Maximilien Brice, Julien Ordan/CERN)

    The performance of the LHC relies on accelerating and colliding beams made of tiny particles with unprecedented intensities. If even a small fraction of the circulating particles deviates from the precisely set trajectory, it can quench a super-conducting LHC magnet or even destroy parts of the accelerator. The energy in the two LHC beams is sufficient to melt almost one tonne of copper.

    This is why the LHC shows its teeth every time particles misbehave. These “teeth” are part of special devices around the LHC, called collimators. Their jaws – moveable blocks of robust materials – close around the beam to clean it of stray particles before they come close to the collision regions. The materials the jaws are made of can withstand extreme conditions of temperature and pressure, as well as high levels of radiation.

    More than a hundred of these bodyguards are placed around the LHC. They are also installed on each side of the LHC experiments to absorb the stray particles before they come close to the collision regions.

    With the expected increase in the number of particle collisions in the High-Luminosity LHC, the beam intensity will be much higher. New collimators are being developed by CERN’s Engineering department to meet the beam-cleaning requirements of the future project. Some of the recent innovations in the LHC collimation system include a wire and a crystal collimator. You can learn more about them in this article.

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  • DarkSide-50 results at UCLA Dark Matter 2018 and at the Lake Louise Winter Institute 2018

    2018-02-21T09:28:15Z via NavierStokesApp To: Public

    "DarkSide-50 results at UCLA Dark Matter 2018 and at the Lake Louise Winter Institute 2018"

    The DarkSide-50 experiment in operation at the Gran Sasso National Laboratory in Italy will report important new results on its search for dark matter,

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  • Week 6 at the Pole

    2018-02-20T18:28:16Z via NavierStokesApp To: Public

    "Week 6 at the Pole"

    It was a busy week at the Pole. There are always lots of preparations to be made before hunkering down for the many months of isolation and darkness. With the busy airfield, IceCube winterover Raffaela was out helping park a Herc.

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  • Genes that turn off after death, and debunking the sugar conspiracy

    2018-02-15T19:29:28Z via NavierStokesApp To: Public

    "Genes that turn off after death, and debunking the sugar conspiracy"

    Some of our genes come alive after we die. David Grimm—online news editor for Science—talks with Sarah Crespi about which genes are active after death and what we can learn about time of death by looking at patterns of postmortem gene expression. Sarah also interviews David Merritt Johns of Columbia University about the so-called sugar conspiracy. Historical evidence suggests, despite recent media reports, it is unlikely that “big sugar” influenced U.S. nutrition policy and led to the low-fat diet fad of the ’80s and ’90s. Listen to previous podcasts. [Image: Lauri Andler (Phantom); Music: Jeffrey Cook]

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