Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Have a safe day!

Wednesday, May 11
3:30 p.m.
4 p.m.
Fermilab Colloquium - One West
Speaker: Jonathan Almer, Argonne National Laboratory
Title: High-Energy X-Ray Studies of Real Materials Under Real Conditions and in Real Time

Thursday, May 12
2:30 p.m.
Theoretical Physics Seminar - Curia II
Speaker: Zackaria Chacko, University of Maryland
Title: A Model-Independent Approach to WIMP Dark Matter
3:30 p.m.
4 p.m.
Accelerator Physics and Technology Seminar
Speaker: Richard Wade, Science and Technology Facilities Council, UK
Title: Science Funding in the UK and the Priorities for the Science and Technology Facilities Council

Click here for NALCAL,
a weekly calendar with links to additional information.

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Secon Level 3

Wilson Hall Cafe

Wednesday, May 11

- Breakfast: English muffin sandwich
- *Beef barley soup
- Gyros
- *Caribbean grilled salmon
- Stuffed peppers
- Beef and cheddar panini
- Assorted sliced pizza
- Grilled chicken bowtie w/ tomato cream

*Heart healthy choice

Wilson Hall Cafe Menu

Chez Leon

Wednesday, May 11

- Lemon sole
- Green beans
- Fresh fruit plate

Friday, May 13

Chez Leon Menu
Call x3524 to make your reservation.


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INSPIRE updates a classic

The INSPIRE website. (Click to go there.)

This article first appeared in the May 10 issue of SLAC Today.

INSPIRE, the next-generation high energy physics information system developed by a team from CERN, DESY, Fermilab and SLAC, is nearing production status but still very much open to feedback.

INSPIRE is the successor to SPIRES-HEP, the 40-year-old information system originally designed to provide access to preprints, or scientific papers that have not yet been published in peer-reviewed journals. Timely access to preprints can prevent duplicated effort, confirm or discount the direction of a proposed experiment or provide a vital clue to a struggling researcher, but the publication process can take weeks, months—even years. In addition to providing access to preprints, SPIRES now serves a role in providing access to all high energy physics literature, both pre- and post-publication, and is even used to ensure that the preprint version is unified with the final published version.

SPIRES-HEP has been responsible for a series of milestones in its day—including becoming the first database accessible through the World Wide Web in 1991. But SPIRES-HEP has been feeling its age, according to SLAC's Manager of Scientific Information Systems Travis Brooks.

"We get about 50 emails per day" for SPIRES problems, Brooks said, including an increasing number of complaints that SPIRES is simply obsolete—too slow and lacking in features compatible with modern systems. INSPIRE is designed to address these increasingly common complaints, offering faster searches, a variety of search and display options, and more detailed record pages, to name only a few of the upgrades.

"One of the biggest improvements we've made is author disambiguation, or distinguishing between authors with the same name,” Brooks said. In fact, scholarly publications often identify authors by only last name and first initial, a convention he termed "a bear to deal with."

To clear up the confusion with names the development team added a graduate student at CERN to their team who is writing specialized code so cutting-edge that his work on INSPIRE forms the backbone of his PhD thesis in Computer Science, according to Brooks.

"We're using algorithms hot off the presses to solve these problems," Brooks said. "We're also reaching out to scientists to help." INSPIRE will include tools for users to correct inaccuracies themselves. "The next addition will probably be a tool to help fix citations," he added.

According to Brooks, late summer is the team's target date for turning off SPIRES-HEP and moving solely to INSPIRE, and in the meantime, they welcome feedback. They're making sure they're easy to find—there's a new INSPIRE blog and even a twitter feed.

The adoption of social media reflects the team's philosophy. "One of the most important things for me is to reach out to the community" to both give and receive help and advice, Brooks said. "Now that we have a solid infrastructure there's an opportunity to use this tool to facilitate HEP communication, establishing a dialogue with our users to ensure we meet their needs with regard to the tools we provide as well as the accuracy of our content."

But, as Brooks puts it, "Reading new papers is almost the definition of being a scientist." The core purpose of INSPIRE—to provide access to scientific information quickly and easily—remains unchanged.

Lori Ann White

Photo of the Day

Hawk orders pigeon for dinner

This Cooper's hawk was seen near the corner of Road A and Wilson streets just after finishing its pigeon dinner. Photo: Barb Kristen
In the News

The collider that cried 'Higgs'

From Nature News, May 10, 2011

Data leaks from particle hunters raise questions about scientific trust.

In the era of WikiLeaks and Twitter, can anyone keep a secret? Governments have learned that, all too often, the answer is no. Now, as teams of particle physicists close in on one of their biggest targets in decades, they too are struggling to keep confidential data under wraps.

In late April, leaked results from the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), the world's largest particle accelerator, seemed to show a preliminary signal of the Higgs boson. The particle is the LHC's highest-profile quarry, and would provide evidence of a theoretical mechanism that gives other particles their mass. A fresh analysis published this week has debunked the claim, but researchers are bracing themselves for a string of other false alarms to appear on blogs over the coming months.

Future leaks are "inevitable", says James Gillies, a spokesman for CERN, the European particle-physics laboratory near Geneva, Switzerland, where the LHC is housed. Proof of the Higgs' existence will not arrive as a bolt from the blue — instead, it will emerge slowly from weeks or months of data analysis, allowing ample time for each tantalizing step to be documented on blogs.

Read more

From the Accelerator Division

Central Helium Liquefier keeps it cool

Jay Theilacker, the head of the Accelerator Division’s Cryogenics Department, wrote this week’s column.

Jay Theilacker

For more than 28 years, the Central Helium Liquefier, located in the building across the street from the Feynman Computing Center, has played an essential role in making the Tevatron work. It provides the liquid helium that flows through the veins of the Tevatron to cool more than 1,000 superconducting magnets.

In the 1980s, Fermilab management deemed the around-the-clock operation of the CHL so important that the laboratory built a second, redundant liquefier, using spare parts for its first CHL plant. Today, these plants are still the largest helium liquefiers in the world

It takes a dedicated staff of 11 people to operate and maintain the CHL, and the crew is on shift 24/7. Over the years, the CHL facility has achieved an astounding historical operating up-time of 99.5 percent. Even when the laboratory closed during the blizzard in February, the CHL crew kept things going.

In addition to its CHL responsibilities, the CHL group also monitors the status of the 24 satellite refrigerators that are located along the 4-mile Tevatron ring. Jerry Makara, who leads the Cryogenics Operations Group, coordinates all CHL operations and maintenance requirements together with the Tevatron run coordinator.

The original concept for the Tevatron called for the CHL to fill 500-liter dewars (special containers for cryogenic liquids) with liquid helium, which then would have been trucked to each of the 24 satellite refrigerators to cool the Tevatron’s magnets to minus 450 degrees Fahrenheit. This would have been an incredibly difficult system to operate. Fortunately, Fermilab developed and installed a thermally efficient, 4.5-mile-long transfer line, which continuously transfers liquid helium to each satellite refrigerator (see this FermiNews article for details). This award-winning system allows for a fast cool-down of the Tevatron magnets and a quick recovery of the system when a magnet quenches.  

The end of Run II in September will mark 28 years of Tevatron operation. The reliability of the CHL system has served a critical role in the Tevatron’s success.

An aerial shot of the Central Helium Liquefier building. Photo: Reidar Hahn.
In the News

WIMP wars: Astronomers and physicists remain skeptical of long-standing dark matter claims

From Scientific American, May 6, 2011

An Italian research group has for years trumpeted a cyclical ebb and flow in particulate activity that the researchers ascribe to dark matter. But support for the claim has been hard to come by.

BALTIMORE— The generic line on dark matter is that nobody really knows what it is because nobody has seen it. The former claim remains basically unassailable— there are many forms dark matter could take. But one research group would dispute the latter assertion. Over the past several years, the Italian DAMA (for DArk MAtter) collaboration has been making the claim that their subterranean detector has registered the signature of dark matter as Earth passes through a sea of the stuff. But despite an ever-strengthening observational case for their claim, the DAMA collaboration's finding remains a source of broad skepticism within the scientific community.

Read more

Safety Update

ES&H weekly report, May 10

This week's safety report, compiled by the Fermilab ES&H section, includes one recordable incident. An employee suffered a laceration when a drill bit from the hand drill he was using came in contact with the top of his hand. Medical treatment makes this case recordable.

Find the full report here.


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