Fermi National Laboratory


Questions and Answers from Virtual Ask-a-Scientist of December 12, 2002

More information about the program

Brenna Flaugher, of CDF, and Tom Diehl, of DZero, who also happen to be husband and wife.
Moderator
Welcome to Virtual Ask-a-Scientist! My name is Elizabeth Clements, of the Office of Public Affairs at Fermilab. Our guest scientists are Brenna Flaugher of the CDF experiment, and Tom Diehl of the DZero experiment. The big collider detectors, each host to more than six hundred scientists, are friendly rivals in Fermilab research. And talk about friendly rivals-Tom and Brenna are a married couple, making the situation even more interesting. And now, we're ready for your questions.
Moderator
Learn about the history of Fermilab: http://www.fnal.gov/pub/about/whatis/history.html
Moderator
Frequently Asked Questions at Fermilab: http://www.fnal.gov/pub/about/faqs/index.html
Moderator
Virtual Tour: The next best thing to visiting Fermilab in person. http://www.fnal.gov/pub/about/tour/index.html
Moderator
Physics questions from real people and physics answers from Fermilab scientists. http://www.fnal.gov/pub/inquiring/questions/index.html
Pie
Tom, what is happening at DZero?
Tom Diehl
The DZero experiment is collecting collisions of protons and antiprotons in order to study the new particles that are created. We have been doing this steadily over since April 2000. In fact we had collisions today.
Michael
Hi Tom and Brenna. Is it difficult to work as a physicist with your spouse?
Brenna Flaugher
Actually we work on different experiments. I think it would be hard to work together all day and then try to forget it at night. I work on CDF and Tom works on D0.
Moderator
On this webpage you can see Live Events from the detectors of CDF and DZero http://www.fnal.gov/pub/now/live_events/index.html
Moderator
On the Fermilab website you can find a High Energy Physics timeline, explaining who discovered what and when. This is the url: http://www.fnal.gov/pub/inquiring/timeline/index.html
Moderator
Who was Enrico Fermi? http://www.fnal.gov/pub/about/whatis/enricofermi.html
Michael
Right. So does it get competitive?
Brenna Flaugher
The experiments compete with each other, and during the search for the top quark there was lots of discussion about keeping secrets. Tom and I had a rule - we would not admit to knowing anything about the other experiment unless we heard it at the Fermilab lunch table too.
Brenna Flaugher
The Fermilab cafeteria is the best place to hear the latest rumors and secret information.
Scott
I read on a transcript from a previous chat that subatomic particles and antiparticles are constantly created and destroyed. Why doesn't this affect matter at the macro level?
Tom Diehl
Straight into quantum mechanics. Our eyes and ears don't detect these interactions because they are so small and fast.
Moderator
Curious about neutrinos? Learn more about them here: http://www.fnal.gov/pub/inquiring/physics/neutrino/index.html
Moderator
Discoveries at Fermilab: http://www.fnal.gov/pub/inquiring/physics/discoveries/index.html
Moderator
The Lederman Science Center has excellent resources for teachers. http://www-ed.fnal.gov/trc/trc_puzzle.html
Scott
But, how can matter be stable if the constituents of that matter are chaotic?
Tom Diehl
Well, for example, the atoms of the computer are stable and held to each other by small electrical attractive forces. No need to involve particle-antiparticle pairs.
Moderator
Subscribe to Fermilab's free publication, FermiNews: http://www.fnal.gov/pub/ferminews/index.html
Kevin
Hi Brenna. What's it like being a woman physicist? Isn't it a pretty "male-dominated" world?
Brenna Flaugher
Yes it is a male dominated world, but I have gotten used to it. I am frequently the only women in a meeting and every once in a while I notice this, but not very often.
Scott
By the way, hello and thanks much for the chats. I just recently discovered the Fermilab website and am amazed at the resources available. I greatly appreciate the time and effort you all put into the dissemination of your work. And a live chat with real particle physicists is just too cool.
Brenna Flaugher
Thanks - we are happy to do it!
Moderator
Particle Physics for Regular People - Recommended Readings http://www.fnal.gov/pub/ferminews/reading.html
Sufyan
How many atoms are in our body?
Moderator
Thanks for your question, Sufyan. Our physicists are working on it right now.
Brenna Flaugher
Hi Sufyan. It depends on your size, but it is a lot - a very rough estimate is a billion billion billion.
Sufyan
Why does a bounce ball bounce up in the air so high
Tom Diehl
When a bounce ball rebounds off the floor, wall, or ceiling it compresses. It stores the energy of its motion in that compression. Then as the ball decompresses the stored energy changes back to energy of motion. Some balls store the energy efficiently and, therefore, bounce back with almost the same speed with which they hit.
Moderator
Sufyan, maybe this example will help you understand how many atoms are in your body. Let us say that one atom represents one marble. Now take every marble that you can imagine and line them up. Your body would have enough atoms to line up from here to the sun!
Scott
You say on that on DZero, you're looking for new particles. Have you found any? I thought there were just the 6 quarks and 6 leptons.
Tom Diehl
New particles are created in almost every collision and collisions happen at a rate of a couple million per second BUT most of those new particles are of kinds that we already know about.
Wiley
What are the best things about being a physicist?
Brenna Flaugher
The thing I like about physics is it tries to understand and explain why things work the way they do. Learning physics means getting a better understand of lots of things. At Fermilab we look for the fundamental building blocks of matter, which seems pretty cool to me.
Tom Diehl
DZero actually discovered the 6th quark, along with our CDF colleagues, in 1994.
Scott
Well, congratulations on that.
Tom Diehl
Thanks. At this time we are looking for a particle, the Higgs boson, that may exist and may be responsible for mass. If the Higgs boson is not too heavy, we can produce enough of them with the Fermilab accelerator, the Tevatron.
Wiley
But, regardless of how "bouncy" a ball is, it can't bounce back higher than the level from which it's dropped, right? (Assuming it's just dropped.)
Tom Diehl
Wiley, exactly right.
Moderator
Sign up for the Interactions.org high-energy physics news wire: http://www.interactions.org/
Moderator
This is how seventh graders described scientists after they visited Fermilab: http://www-ed.fnal.gov/projects/scientists/
Moderator
See if you can navigate through the Fermilabyrinth: http://www-ed.fnal.gov/projects/labyrinth/games/
Moderator
Did you know that over 3000 patients have been treated at Fermilab's Neutron Therapy Facility? Learn more about this innovative cancer therapy: http://www-bd.fnal.gov/ntf/ntf_home.html
Moderator
Discoveries at Fermilab: http://www.fnal.gov/pub/inquiring/physics/discoveries/index.html
Jack
What will the last two events be before matter reaches the speed of light?
Brenna Flaugher
I'm not sure what you mean. What kind of events are you asking about? Matter can't reach the speed of light as far as we know.
Moderator
Many wonderful brochures and bookmarks about high-energy physics are available to order online: http://www.fnal.gov/pub/about/public_affairs/brochures.html
Moderator
A total of 53 species of butterflies have been identified at Fermilab. Here is the complete list: http://tdpc02.fnal.gov/peterson/tom/Butterflies/FermilabButterflyTable.html
Sufyan
What causes gravity?
Tom Diehl
Thanks for your question. I am working on an answer now.
Moderator
A total of 273 species of birds have been recorded at Fermilab. Here is a diary of recent bird sitings at Fermilab: http://www.fnal.gov/ecology/wildlife/diary.html
Moderator
Just what do all of those scientists at Fermilab do? Learn more about Fermilab research: http://www.fnal.gov/pub/about/experiments/index.html
Tom Diehl
Gravity is cause by mass. It is a force that all mass exerts on all other mass. The force of gravity grows smaller then further the masses are away from each other.
Michael
How are things working out with RunII?
Brenna Flaugher
Run II is going OK. The beam is not quite as intense as we had hoped, but it is getting better. The experiments are running pretty well and will be making presentations of new results at international conferences in the next few months.
Moderator
What is the Tevatron doing right now? Check the Tevatron status: http://www-bd.fnal.gov/servlets/d11?project=outside
Moderator
Physics is our mission, but buffalo may be Fermilab's main attraction for visitors. What are buffalo doing at a physics laboratory? Here is the answer: http://www.fnal.gov/pub/about/campus/ecology/wildlife/bison.html
Moderator
At Fermilab we have an education center called "Lederman Science Center". This is their homepage: http://www-ed.fnal.gov/ed_home.html
Tom Diehl
Sufyan: for instance, you are attracted to the Earth because the Earth has mass. If the Earth were smaller, you would be attracted less strongly. The Moon is smaller than the Earth (it has less mass) so if you were standing on the Moon instead of the Earth, you would feel lighter and be able to jump higher.
Moderator
Here is an online photo collection that introduces Fermilab in all its facets. Here is the link: http://www.fnal.gov/pub/about/whatis/picturebook/index.html
Moderator
QuarkNet is a research collaboration between high school students, teachers and particle physicists. This is the QuarkNet website: http://quarknet.fnal.gov/
Sufyan
Have you ever gone in to space?
Brenna Flaugher
Unfortunately no - I have never gone into space.
Brenna Flaugher
Neither has Tom.
Moderator
Fermilab has a big audience that visits the lab for cultural events. On this page you can see what we offer: http://www.fnal.gov/pub/events/culture.html
Moderator
To get our protons on the way we use a "chain of accelerators". Here is more information: http://www.fnal.gov/pub/inquiring/physics/accelerators/chainaccel.html
Moderator
Physics questions from real people and physics answers from Fermilab scientists. http://www.fnal.gov/pub/inquiring/questions/index.html
Michael
Tom--So why are objects with mass attracted to one another?
Tom Diehl
Michael, are you asking "why gravity" or how does it work? As to the first, we observe there is an attractive force between mass that gets smaller the further apart the objects are.
Moderator
Fermilab produced its first high-energy particle beam on March 1, 1972. Since then hundreds of experiments have used Fermilab's accelerators to study matter at even smaller scales. Here is an overview of the top ten achievements so far. http://www.fnal.gov/pub/inquiring/physics/discoveries/index.html
Sufyan
It's very cool talking to scientist.
Brenna Flaugher
Thanks - we like talking too. Ask more questions!
Moderator
The Fermilab Education Office offers seven programs for under-graduate students: http://www-ed.fnal.gov/lasso/program_search/undergrad.lasso
Kenny
I'm 10 years old.
Moderator
Hi Kenny! I'm glad that you joined the chat room.
Sophie
I am 9 years old. I sent a question just now. What are the cells in my body made up of?
Moderator
Hi Sophie. Thanks for sending a question. Our physicists are working on it right now!
Kenny
What is my genotype? What is a phenotype?
Moderator
Thanks for your question, Kenny. We are working on an answer.
Buddy
Where do molecules come from?
Brenna Flaugher
Buddy -Molecules are groups of elements that are stuck together. There are forces that make some elements stick to other ones better.
Sufyan
Can ionic bonds conduct electricity?
Tom Diehl
Ionic bonds. Aren't these the ones that come about when one atom, for instance sodium, shares an electron with another, for instance iodine? That will make something that is electrically neutral. I bet sodium iodide conducts electricity better when it is dissolved in water.
Sophie
What are the cells in my body made out of?
Brenna Flaugher
Hi Sophie - your cells are mostly water. Your body is about 97% water.
Moderator
Kenny, here is some information about genotypes and phenotypes: http://www.brooklyn.cuny.edu/bc/ahp/BioInfo/GP/Definition.html
Scott
Could you explain how the conservation of angular momentum prevents an electron from leaving its orbit? It's always given as the reason for the orbit, but never explained how. Is it because the electron is trying to fly away but is retained by the attraction to the positive nucleus?
Tom Diehl
You are right that the electron (negatively-charged) is attracted to the atom's nucleus, which is positively charged. The electron has angular momentum and that stays the same until something knocks the electron out of its orbit, like collision with a photon or another particle.
Kenny
What is slime made of?
Brenna Flaugher
Kenny - there are many types of slime - slime, molds, slugs.
Gluon
How is the luminosity doing?
Moderator
Gluon, the luminosity keeps going up, up, up!
Moderator
Here is a Run II luminosity chart: http://www.fnal.gov/pub/now/tevlum.html
Gluon
That's great news! Less time to wait for the Higgs!
Moderator
We still have a lot of work to do. Everybody at Fermilab has been working extremely hard to find the Higgs.
Sophie
Bones are hard and skin is dry. Where is the water besides my blood?
Brenna Flaugher
Sophie - the water is in your cells - for example fat cells, the cells in your muscles, in your skin cells.
Moderator
Want to know more about the Higgs Boson? Read all about the hunt for the Higgs Boson: http://www.fnal.gov/pub/inquiring/matter/future/index.html
Moderator
Director Michael Witherell's vision for the lab: http://www.fnal.gov/pub/about/directorsoffice/index.html
Sufyan
How does the sun have so much power ?
Tom Diehl
The Sun is powered by nuclear fusion. Hydrogen atoms, which make up most of the Sun, collide with each other and for helium atoms. In the process some energy is given off as heat. That gives the Sun its power.
Scott
Tom, regarding your answer to my first question. I'm now reading "The God Particle". I know it's about the Higgs but haven't gotten to that part yet. Great book. Has any progress been made since it was written (1991 I think) on finding the Higgs?
Brenna Flaugher
Hi Scott - Tom is working on another question so I will answer for now. We have made progress on understanding how to look for it and we have more sensitive tests for finding it. But, what we need is lots of data - lots of proton-antiproton collisions and those are just starting to accumulate. We haven't found anything new .... yet...
Kenny
How long does it take for stalactites and stalagmites to form?
Moderator
That is an interesting question, Kenny. It takes many years for stalactite and stalagmites to form. They grow very slowly over hundreds of thousands of millions of years. Stalactites drip down from the ceiling, like icicles, and stalagmites up towards the ceiling from the ground.
Moderator
Building blocks of matter: http://www.fnal.gov/pub/inquiring/matter/madeof/index.html
Moderator
Learn more about MiniBooNE: http://www-boone.fnal.gov/
Sophie
Is there water in the particles you send around your accelerator? Why do you make them go fast?
Brenna Flaugher
Hi Sophie - The particles we send around the accelerator are smaller than water molecules. Water is 2 atoms of hydrogen and one of oxygen. The proton that we send around the accelerator is comes from a hydrogen atom. A hydrogen atom is a proton and an electron. We make them go so fast so that they have a lot of energy when they collide with the anti-protons. This way we have a chance of making new particles by converting the energy to mass (E=mc^2)
Scott
Does Fermilab study neutrinos?
Moderator
Yes, Scott. Fermilab has many different Neutrino experiments such as MiniBooNE, MINOS, NUMI. Neutrinos are a very hot topic!
Moderator
Curious about neutrinos? Learn more about them here: http://www.fnal.gov/pub/inquiring/physics/neutrino/index.html
Tom Diehl
Scott, the probability for creating a Higgs particle in one of our collisions is very small. With about a million collisions per second, most of them producing common particles, we measure only about one or two top quarks per day. We think the Higgs is something like 50 times less common than that.
Kenny
If you mix poor metals with earth metals what would happen?
Moderator
Interesting question, Kenny. What do you mean by a poor metal and an earth metal?
Wiley
I thought the human body was like 70% water. Was I that far off?
Brenna Flaugher
We aren't sure, but the consensus here is it is somewhere in the 90's.
Moderator
The human body is approximately 70% water. Human blood, however, is approximately 90% water. Hopefully this clears up some of the confusion.
Moderator
Curious about neutrinos? Learn more about them here: http://www.fnal.gov/pub/inquiring/physics/neutrino/index.html
Gluon
How is MiniBoone doing? Do you know how many neutrino events they have observed to date? I presume they are all muon neutrinos still?
Tom Diehl
I know they are doing well. When we watch accelerator operation while working at DZero we can see they are collecting events. But I don't know how many they have.
Moderator
Sign up for the Interactions.org high-energy physics news wire: http://www.interactions.org/
Moderator
Current Status of Access to Fermilab: http://www.fnal.gov/pub/about/public_affairs/currentstatus.html
Michael
So, I understand why CDF and D0 are located at Fermilab. But why are MiniBoone and Numi there? (As opposed to someplace else?)
Tom Diehl
The Fermilab complex has several accelerators that can be operated at the same time. While we are studying proton-antiproton collisions at DZero and CDF the beams are contained in the Tevatron accelerator.
Tom Diehl
Meanwhile, the Main Injector is cracking protons into a target and producing antiprotons.
Tom Diehl
Mini-Boone gets its proton beam from the booster. So all of these things can be done at the same time.
Moderator
Learn more about Fermilab's Chain of Accelerators: http://www.fnal.gov/pub/inquiring/physics/accelerators/chainaccel.html
Scott
Do you think quantum computing will ever be possible? How could it be possible to harness the utter chaos of the quantum world to create the order needed to process computer logic? Wouldn't Heisenberg's rules cause a problem with that?
Brenna Flaugher
Scott - I think quantum computing is actually being done now. I'm not sure how it works though.
Moderator
Learn about astrophysics at Fermilab: http://www.fnal.gov/pub/inquiring/physics/astrophysics/index.html
Becca
Where does all of the Cometary dust that comes into the earth's atmosphere to make up a meteor shower come from?
Tom Diehl
Becca: Wow, good question. I am working on that now.
Tom Diehl
I got a chance to see the beautiful meteor shower in November, called the Leonids. They are called that because the Earth is moving in the direction of the constellation Leo, and is zooming into the tail of a comet.
Moderator
These are programs at Fermilab that the Lederman Science Center offers for students: http://eddata.fnal.gov/lasso/program_search/search_programs.html
Tom Diehl
Comets can be simply described as "muddy snowballs". The material comes from the edge of the solar system. We think that most of the stuff out there is comet-like material.
Moderator
Learn about how we make antiprotons: http://www.fnal.gov/pub/inquiring/physics/accelerators/chainaccel.html
Sophie
Ok. My last question is: what is the point? What are you going to DO with whatever you find out about the protons colliding with anti-protons? What can it solve?
Brenna Flaugher
Sophie - By smashing the protons and antiprotons apart we learn about what holds them together. We are doing basic research. That means that it doesn't have a direct application right now. But we believe that it is important to learn more about our world (in this case the forces that hold the elementary particles together) and that 10 or 20 years from now it will become useful - but right now we don't now exactly how.
Moderator
Wondering about how we accelerator those protons? http://www.fnal.gov/pub/inquiring/physics/accelerators/accelerate.html
Brenna Flaugher
Sophie - one example is the web - it was started by particle physicists who wanted to communicate with each other even though they were in different countries.
Scott
So, your accelerator is flinging protons around real fast. How did you get the protons? Then, how do you get them into the accelerator?
Tom Diehl
There is a chain of accelerators connected together. It starts with a bottle of hydrogen gas. Hydrogen is an atom made from one proton and one electron. We knock off the electron and speed it up from one accelerator to the next. The proton gains energy. There is a really good description of this on the "Inquiring Minds" web page.
Moderator
Here are some reasons why we should support high-energy physics: http://www.fnal.gov/pub/inquiring/matter/whysupport/index.html
Moderator
Online instructional material for teachers courtesy of the Lederman Science Center: http://www-ed.fnal.gov/trc/projects/index_all.html
Becca
I live in Wheaton, IL. When is the best time to see the Geminid meteor shower?
Brenna Flaugher
Becca - there is a meteor shower Saturday morning, I think it was about 4am. You could check the local newspaper. I read there was supposed to be about 1 per minute
Kevin
What is "quantum computing"?
Tom Diehl
I'm not an expert but this is what I found out. The idea is to use the properties of matter at the smallest level because it can be faster -- and we all know how useful it is to have faster computers.
Moderator
Fermilab's Fields Guides for Teachers and Students: http://www-ed.fnal.gov/data/life_science.html
Moderator
Many wonderful brochures and bookmarks about high-energy physics are available to order online: http://www.fnal.gov/pub/about/public_affairs/brochures.html
Moderator
Discoveries at Fermilab: http://www.fnal.gov/pub/inquiring/physics/discoveries/index.html
Moderator
Frequently Asked Questions at Fermilab: http://www.fnal.gov/pub/about/faqs/index.html
Scott
Well, this Web applications developer would like to very much thank those physicists for giving me a job!
Tom Diehl
Scott, you are very welcome (we particle physicists take some of the credit for inventing the world-wide-web).
Tom Diehl
Scott - thanks. And there's a lot of et al. in that. I have 600 collaborators from around the world.
Moderator
Did you know that Fermilab had the second (or third) website in the U.S.A.? Read more about this: http://www.fnal.gov/pub/help/history.html
Moderator
The Birds at Fermilab site is at: http://www.fnal.gov/pub/about/campus/ecology/wildlife/birds.html
Moderator
What is the Tevatron doing right now? Check the Tevatron status: http://www-bd.fnal.gov/servlets/d11?project=outside
Kevin
Well, have the particle physics discoveries of the past been useful? What did we learn 10 or 20 years *ago*?
Brenna Flaugher
Kevin - about 20 years ago gluons were discovered - I think it was the late seventies. This confirmed the theory of quantum chromodynamics.
Moderator
We have VideoNews and streaming video of lectures and colloquia. Here is the url: http://www-visualmedia.fnal.gov/VMS_Site/s_videostreaming.html
Becca
How long is the shower supposed to last?
Brenna Flaugher
Becca - we looked on the web - it is supposed to last at least an hour. You might search around and find more.
Sophie
Thank you, I thought matter would always hold together!
Brenna Flaugher
Thanks - we are happy to answer your questions.
Moderator
Here's another great High Energy Physics site: http://particleadventure.org/particleadventure/
Moderator
And a list of other institutions: http://www.hep.net/sites/directories.html
Scott
Do either of you have an opinion on how the apparently faster-than-light communication involved in entanglement is possible?
Tom Diehl
I recall that no information can be exchanged at faster than the speed of light.
Moderator
Fermilab's art gallery has regular shows: http://www.fnal.gov/pub/Art_Gallery/
Becca
Thanks!
Brenna Flaugher
Enjoy the shower - we will be looking for it too. I hope the weather is good!
Moderator
There is also a very active lecture series. http://www.fnal.gov/culture/lecture.shtml
Moderator
Fermilab's Founding Director, Robert R. Wilson, greatly influenced the design of the entire laboratory. Learn more about all of the interesting architecture at Fermilab: http://www.fnal.gov/pub/about/campus/architecture.html
Moderator
Sign up for the Interactions.org high-energy physics news wire: http://www.interactions.org/
Wiley
How did physicists help develop the Web?
Moderator
Wiley, Tim Berners-Lee, a scientist from CERN, invented the World Wide Web.
Kevin
And what has quantum chromodynamics done for us? I mean, practically?
Tom Diehl
Quantum chromodynamics (QCD) is our description of one of the four fundamental forces of nature. The force which holds together the nucleus of atoms is QCD on the scale of many quarks and gluons in a single nucleus consisting of the atoms protons and neutrons. Our description of the nuclear force has improved since that time when we didn't know about quarks and gluons - the stuff that makes up particles in the nucleus.
Tom Diehl
Physicists at CERN and around the world wanted a faster way to spread our ideas to each other. The web was developed so that we could do that.
Moderator
Learn more about how the web was created: http://public.web.cern.ch/public/
Moderator
Did you know that over 3000 patients have been treated at Fermilab's Neutron Therapy Facility? Learn more about this innovative cancer therapy: http://www-bd.fnal.gov/ntf/ntf_home.html
Scott
I'd say neutron therapy qualifies as a practical use of knowledge learned from particle physics research.
Moderator
I agree, Scott. Neutron therapy is most certainly a practical and effective use of high-energy physics.
Moderator
Questions people ask about physics: http://www.fnal.gov/pub/inquiring/questions/index.html
Kevin
I see what you mean. But, as citizens and taxpayers we all look for practical benefits--applications in our lives.
Brenna Flaugher
Kevin - practical benefits from basic research are hard to predict. Take the electron for example - who would have imagined that all the uses today back when it was discovered. There are many spin-offs from particle physics - neutron therapy for example, NMR magnets used for medical research were not the point of the experiments but have been adapted from the understanding that was gained from the work.
Kevin
So my question, directly, is--why is particle physics worthy of our support?
Tom Diehl
There are lots of reasons. One of them is practical applications. Those come about in two ways. The first: direct applications. The example we love to use is Thomson's discovery of the electron, our first particle. Right now, the direct practical applications from understanding how nature works are becoming scarcer as we study nature at a level further from everyday experience.
Moderator
Particle Physics for Regular People - Recommended Readings http://www.fnal.gov/pub/ferminews/reading.html
Moderator
Just what do all of those scientists at Fermilab do? Learn more about Fermilab research: http://www.fnal.gov/pub/about/experiments/index.html
Tom Diehl
To add, but we are studying nature at a more fundamental level. When we come up with a direct practical application, if we do, it will have a profound effect. There are indirect applications - spinoffs. We have lots of them because what we do is difficult technologically. We need to invent stuff to do our work.
Moderator
On this webpage you can see Live Events from the detectors of CDF and DZero http://www.fnal.gov/pub/now/live_events/index.html
Moderator
Who was Enrico Fermi? http://www.fnal.gov/pub/about/whatis/enricofermi.html
Moderator
Curious about neutrinos? Learn more about them here: http://www.fnal.gov/pub/inquiring/physics/neutrino/index.html
Moderator
Learn about the history of Fermilab: http://www.fnal.gov/pub/about/whatis/history.html
Moderator
Physics questions from real people and physics answers from Fermilab scientists. http://www.fnal.gov/pub/inquiring/questions/index.html
Bobby
So, if you weren't physicists, what would you be?
Tom Diehl
I am an "asking-questions" type of person. I would be a scientist of some kind. Maybe, instead of studying elementary particles I would be studying astronomy or astrophysics. I have more to say about this.
Brenna Flaugher
Bobby - I think maybe an engineer - I have worked with many engineers while helping to build the CDF detector and I think that type of work is interesting. On the other hand, when I started college I wanted to be a Vet and work with animals. If I hadn't switched to physics I might be doing that.
Moderator
On the Fermilab website you can find a High Energy Physics timeline, explaining who discovered what and when. This is the url: http://www.fnal.gov/pub/inquiring/timeline/index.html
Moderator
Virtual Tour: The next best thing to visiting Fermilab in person. http://www.fnal.gov/pub/about/tour/index.html
Moderator
Read the latest Accelerator Update: http://www.fnal.gov/pub/news02/update.html
Moderator
Did you know that Fermilab recently had a new butterfly species introduced to its prairie? Read more here: http://www.fnal.gov/pub/ferminews/ferminews02-11-01/p3.html
Tom Diehl
In particle physics, which is what I do at Fermilab, we study the smallest pieces of matter. Astronomers and astrophysicists study the largest things: comets, planets, the Sun, the galaxy, ... all the way up to the size, age and shape of the universe itself. It turns out there are connections between the behavior of nature on the smallest scales and those things astronomers and astrophysicists look at.
Moderator
Super Results for Super Conducting Magnets: http://www.fnal.gov/pub/ferminews/ferminews02-12-06/p2.html
Moderator
Fermilab's Founding Director, Robert R. Wilson, greatly influenced the design of the entire laboratory. Learn more about all of the interesting architecture at Fermilab: http://www.fnal.gov/pub/about/campus/architecture.html
Bobby
So, Brenna, do you really enjoy all the architecture there at Fermilab?
Brenna Flaugher
Bobby - yes I do - sometimes I think it is silly, but it sure beats looking at boring buildings. A few years ago they had an art exhibit with lots of outdoor displays. That was sort of fun too.
Bobby
I think it's really cool that architecture and science are tied together so closely. Was Wilson a trained architect?
Moderator
I am not sure if he was a "trained" architect, but he was an artist and a sculptor.
Moderator
And of course an accomplished physicist too!
Moderator
Wilson actually passed away in 2000, and he is buried here on site in a Pioneer Cemetery that was discovered at Fermilab in 1907.
Scott
Would you and your peers all be considered geniuses, or at least brilliant? Is working at Fermilab (and other top-notch facilities) like making the major leagues for an athlete (the best of the best)?
Tom Diehl
Some of my peers are really very smart. And Fermilab is the highest energy accelerator in the world. But there are only 700 Major Leagers (Al + NL) in the world and a lot more particle physicists than that. I guess there are about 5000 of us.
symics
What types of jobs are available for particle physicists?
Brenna Flaugher
Symics - they types of jobs doing particle physics are professors at universities, or staff positions at national labs like Fermilab. Some of the jobs have tenure - meaning they can't fire you unless you really screw up. Some of the jobs are short term. Some people get their PhDs and then go off to other things - quite a few went to wall street and the stock market because writing computer programs that predict the market is somewhat like writing the programs we use in particle physics.
Bobby
Wilson seems like a really inspiring guy. How much of his legacy is still part of Fermilab?
Moderator
He is a very inspiring person. He still has quite an influence on the lab. When making a decision about what color to paint a new building, or how to design something, we still often ask, "What would Wilson do?".
Moderator
Learn more about Robert Wilson: http://www.fnal.gov/projects/history/wilson.html
Moderator
Read Wilson's book, Starting Fermilab: http://www.fnal.gov/projects/history/wilson/cover.html
Symics
Thanks.
Brenna Flaugher
You are welcome - did you want to know more about what we do?
Symics
Sure.
Brenna Flaugher
There are different types of jobs at Fermilab. I have worked on analyzing the data from the collisions and now I am working on building a silicon detector. To analyze the data we use computer programs and make histograms and graphs of the different properties of the collisions.
Symics
Interesting...
Brenna Flaugher
Symics - thanks for joining us.
Iambubber
What is a meteor, or what is it made out of?
Tom Diehl
A meteor is a small piece of stuff traveling around the Sun that burns up when it hits the Earth's atmosphere because it is moving so fast in the air. There are several different kinds. Some of made of metal, mostly iron and nickel (like the coin). Others are made of a kind of rocky stuff.
Moderator
Physics is our mission, but buffalo may be Fermilab's main attraction for visitors. What are buffalo doing at a physics laboratory? Here is the answer: http://www.fnal.gov/pub/about/campus/ecology/wildlife/bison.html
Moderator
We are getting down to the last few minutes of our chat session. Please enter your final questions now.
Moderator
Transcripts of this session will be available next week. Check back at: http://www.fnal.gov/pub/inquiring/virtual/
Tom Diehl
When the meter burns up in the air it leaves a trail. We can see the bright ones. We call them "shooting stars". But they aren't really stars at all. They are just small dust-grain to pea-sized bits of stuff.
Bobby
Thanks for your time, Brenna and Tom!
Tom Diehl
You are welcome. Thanks for joining us.
Bobby
Is Wilson's book in print?
Moderator
That is a good question, and to be honest, I am not sure. You would probably have to contact our Fermilab historian to find out. Her information is available on his page: http://www.fnal.gov/projects/history/index.html
Moderator
Director Michael Witherell's vision for the lab: http://www.fnal.gov/pub/about/directorsoffice/index.html
Scott
Particle physics is one thing, but can you tell me how to set the clock on my vcr? :) Thanks for the chat, and good luck with those little particles.
Tom Diehl
Scott, it was a pleasure to chat with you. Thanks for joining us.
Iambubber
Where does a meteor originate from?
Tom Diehl
The main source is from the "asteroid belt". This is a band of rubble in between the planets Mars and Jupiter.
Moderator
Thank you everybody for participating in this chat session!
Moderator
Good night, everybody!
Brenna Flaugher
Thanks everyone! Bye
Tom Diehl
Thanks to you all for joining in. It's been fun. Bye.

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last modified 1/10/2003   email Fermilab