Fermilab Today Wednesday, Nov. 3, 2010

Have a safe day!

Wednesday, Nov. 3
12:30 p.m.
Physics for Everyone - Auditorium
Speaker: Brenna Flaugher
Title: What the Cosmos Can Tell Us
3:30 p.m.

Thursday, Nov. 4
9:45 a.m.
Presentations to the Physics Advisory Committee - Curia II
2:30 p.m.
Theoretical Physics Seminar (NOTE LOCATION) 1 West Speaker: Clifford Cheung, University of California, Berkeley
Title: Signs of a Hidden Sector from Supersymmetry(s)
3:30 p.m.
4 p.m.
Accelerator Physics and Technology Seminar - One West
Speaker: Diktys Stratakis, University of California, Los Angeles
Title: Triggers and Mitigation Strategies of rf Breakdown For Muon Accelerator Cavities

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Wednesday, Nov. 3
- Breakfast: English muffin sandwich
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Chez Leon

Wednesday, Nov. 3
- Northern Italian lasagna
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Thursday, Nov. 4
- Mixed greens w/ pecans, goat cheese & dried cranberries
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- Garlic mashed potatoes
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- Pear tart

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Special Announcement

Physics for Everyone: Today at 12:30 p.m. in auditorium

M78 nebula. Come to the next Physics for Everyone lecture, "What the cosmos can tell us" today. Credit: Sloan Digital Sky Survey

Probing the cosmos for secrets to some of the universe's greatest mysteries is all in a day's work for some Fermilab scientists.

Come to the next installment of the Physics for Everyone lecture series, "What the cosmos can tell us," to learn more about dark matter and dark energy as well as how and why Fermilab scientists are seeking to understand these concepts.

Fermilab scientist Brenna Flaugher will talk about experiments and projects at the Cosmic Frontier, what they're looking for, why and what we can learn from astrophysics.

"What the cosmos can tell us" will take place from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. today in Ramsey Auditorium. There will be time for questions and answers. The lecture is part of a non-technical series about Fermilab science and culture. A video of the first lecture by scientist Herman White is now available online.

Experiment Profile


Fermilab scientist Mike Crisler examines the COUPP bubble chamber.

Editor's note: The COUPP experiment just began taking data with their 4–kilogram bubble chamber, located at SNOLab.

NAME: Chicagoland Observatory for Underground Particle Physics, or COUPP

WHAT WILL THIS TELL US? Everything you see, visible matter, makes up 4 percent of the universe. Dark matter and dark energy make up the rest of the universe. Physicists understand that dark matter acts as an invisible source of gravity, but little more.

WHY IS THIS EXPERIMENT NEEDED NOW? Physicists have narrowed the hunt for what particles constitute dark matter to those that are heavy, neutral and interact very weakly with other matter particles. Only this type of particle fits with the way the universe evolved and its matter density.

WHAT IS COUPP LOOKING FOR? A nuclear recoil from a dark matter particle striking a nucleus of an atom in a liquid molecule. That triggers the evaporation of a small amount of liquid, which causes a bubble to start growing. The correct type of bubble would point to the existence of a leading candidate for dark matter called Weakly Interacting Massive Particles, or WIMPs.



U.S. COLLABORATING INSTITUTIONS: Two universities, one national laboratory

NON-US COLLABORATING INSTITUTIONS: One national laboratory in Canada

HOW DOES THIS FIT INTO FERMILAB'S STRATEGIC PLAN? Fermilab scientists search for dark matter WIMPs using four different technologies: bubble chambers (COUPP), cryogenic crystals (CDMS), liquid argon (Darkside) and Charge Coupled Devices (DAMIC).

STATUS: COUPP started in 2004. A 4-kilogram bubble chamber was installed at SNOLAB in September 2010. A second 60-kg chamber will follow in late 2010.

LIFESPAN OF EXPERIMENT: The deployment of a 500 kg chamber in a deep underground site is expected in 2013. It will operate for a number of years.


Read more

Photos of the Day

Graduate Student Association annual Halloween party

The Drug Sniffing Dogs performed at Kuhn Barn Oct. 29 during the Graduate Student Asssociation Halloween party.
A group of friends stopped dancing for a photo at the GSA annual Halloween party on Oct. 29.
In the News

Antarctic balloon sees particles with a million times more energy than the Large Hadron Collider

From The Guardian, Oct. 30, 2010

The ANITA experiment is designed to look for neutrinos, but saw 16 ultra-high-energy cosmic rays by mistake.

Ryan Nichol, who works upstairs from me at UCL, gets together with NASA every now and then and flies a balloon around the Antarctic.

They are looking for the answer to one of the great questions in astrophysics. We know that there are really really high energy particles hitting the Earth all the time from outer space. We would really like to know where they are coming from. The aim of ANITA (Antarctic Impulsive Transient Antenna) is to address this by looking for neutrinos.

Read More

From Center for Particle Astrophysics

Has dark matter been detected?

Craig Hogan, director of the Center for Particle Astrophysics, wrote this week’s column.

Craig Hogan

We have been on the hunt for dark matter for a long time. It’s an elusive quarry. Many different lines of evidence, based on gravitational interactions of galaxy-size swarms of matter, indicate that most of the universe is made of a new kind of nearly noninteracting, relatively slow-moving particle. But experiments so far have found neither signals of individual dark matter particles nor any data that hint at even the most basic properties of those particles, such as their mass.

That’s why a lot of people are talking about a paper submitted recently by Dan Hooper, a Fermilab theorist, with a graduate student, Lisa Goodenough. They analyzed data from the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope and found evidence for an unusual source of gamma rays near the center of our galaxy, the Milky Way.

The spectrum of this source is unusual: Most of its power is concentrated in a band of energy between 2 and 4 GeV, unlike the more spread-out power-law spectrum characteristic of astrophysical gamma-ray emission.  And although the source is concentrated near the center of our galaxy, it’s not a point, but is spread out across about a degree in the sky. 

Remarkably, this is just what we expect if dark matter particles that make up most of the Milky Way’s mass have a mass of about 7 GeV, and come in matter and antimatter versions that occasionally annihilate. They destroy each other and convert by various channels into observable gamma rays. In other words, our galaxy’s halo may not be dark after all, but very faintly glowing. The glow is brightest near our galaxy’s center because that’s where the dark matter particles are closest together and collide with each other most easily. 

It’s tantalizing that the same dark matter particle mass can also explain data from two underground experiments known by their acronyms, DAMA and CoGeNT. Some of their signals may have been caused by direct collisions of dark matter particles with atomic nuclei in the laboratory.

Could this finally be the long-awaited detection of dark matter?  Maybe, but we won’t know for a while yet. Physicists will analyze Fermi’s gamma-ray signal in more detail to see if it is really consistent with dark matter annihilating, or whether there is evidence for a less exotic, unfamiliar astrophysical process involving only already-known particles. Physicists also will re-examine underground experiments in new ways and in some cases perhaps even reconfigure them to operate with greater sensitivity to the mass range of about 7 GeV, a considerably lower mass region than most experiments have focused on up to now. 

New developments may unfold quickly, even over the course of the next months, so it will be an exciting time.  At Fermilab, we’ll work hard to disprove the Hooper/Goodenough claim--- because that’s also the best way to convince ourselves that it might be true.

Special Announcement

"Ethics in Science" seminar at University of Chicago

Fermilab scientists and researchers are invited to attend the “Ethics in Science” reception and panel discussion on Wednesday, Nov. 10, at Frank Lloyd Wright’s Unity Temple in Oak Park.

RSVP through the website. The deadline to RSVP is today.

The event is the second in a series of Joint Speaker events hosted by the University, Argonne and Fermilab. The panel will include four distinguished panelists and moderator William Schweiker, director of the Martin Marty Center and Edward L. Ryerson, distinguished service professor of Theological Ethics in the Divinity School.

Safety Update

ES&H weekly report, Nov. 2

This week's safety report, compiled by the Fermilab ES&H section, includes one recordable incident. Find the full report here.

Safety report archive


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