Friday, July 8, 2011

Have a safe day!

Friday, July 8
3:30 p.m.
4 p.m.
Joint Experimental-Theoretical Physics Seminar - One West
Speaker: Tom Wright, University of Michigan
Title: Search for Higgs Bosons Produced in Association with b-Quarks at CDF

Monday, July 11
3:30 p.m.
4 p.m.
All Experimenters' Meeting - Curia II
Special Topics: HTS Insert Coil Test in External Solenoid Field; Planned FCC Power Outage
5 p.m.
Budker Seminar - User’s Center
Speaker: Denise Ford, Northwestern University
Title: First Principles and Spectroscopic Investigations of the Electropolishing of Niobium Superconducting Radio-Frequency Cavities

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Fermilab hosts workshop for elementary school teachers

From left: Karen Weigt, Dee Huie, and Marsha Stierwalt, help a teacher from Fox Valley Montessori capture insects during the "Pollinators on the Prairie" activity that was part of the workshop "Insects at Work in Our World" at Fermilab on June 23. Photo: Christine Herman

A group of elementary school teachers recently learned what it is like to look at the world through the eyes of their grade school students.

Three local school teachers received hands-on teacher training at “Insects at Work in Our World,” a lesson-planning workshop that took place June 23 - 24 at the Fermilab's Lederman Science Center. The point of the workshop was to help equip teachers in bringing science exploration into their classrooms by incorporating the scientific method.

“The scientific method teaches kids that science isn’t about facts and memorizing. It’s about discovery, and everyone can do it,” said Marsha Stierwalt, an elementary school teacher for 23 years.

Stierwalt co-led the workshop with Karen Weigt, who has 12 years of teaching experience.

Successful science lessons consist of asking a question, constructing a hypothesis, performing an experiment, analyzing data and drawing conclusions, Stierwalt said.

To show the difference between effective and ineffective teaching methods, Weigt and Stierwalt had the teachers role-play as first-graders while they led them through a series of classroom activities, some that incorporated the scientific method and others that didn’t.

In the subsequent critique of the two teaching approaches, the teachers concluded that student participation in research and observation is more engaging and effective than passive listening.

“You’re shifting the power of learning from the teacher teaching to the student discovering, and that’s what the scientific method is all about,” Weigt said.

In addition to receiving a binder full of resources and lesson plans, the teachers participated in the “Pollinators on the Prairie” fieldtrip activity for the hands-on study of prairie insects, led by Fermilab docent Dee Huie.

The next teacher’s workshop, “Particles and Prairies,” is a hands-on training event for middle school teachers and will be held July 25-29.

After participating in an education workshop, teachers are welcome to brings students for free fieldtrips to Fermilab every year. Stierwalt and Weigt encourage teachers to participate in workshops to stay up-to-date with education tools and techniques.

“Not only are you getting this information for your kids, but you get this field trip for free,” Stierwalt said. “It’s such a wonderful resource.”

— Christine Herman

Karen Weigt (far right), explains how to use insect display cases to teach children about insects at the workshop "Insects at Work in Our World" at Fermilab on June 23. Photo: Christine Herman
In the News

National Labs open doors to displaced Japanese researchers

From's Energy Blog, July 5, 2011

It’s said that a friend in need is a friend indeed. But what do you do when your friend needs a supercomputer... or something even harder to find, like a Spallation Neutron Source or a High Flux Isotope Reactor?

If you’re a researcher in the Energy Department’s Office of Science, it’s pretty simple: you offer them time on one of yours. And that’s exactly what researchers at several Office of Science facilities are doing for their counterparts in Japan.

On March 11th, the Tohoku Earthquake and subsequent tsunami struck Japan’s main island of Honshu with shattering force. Tens of millions are still adjusting to the aftermath of those disasters, not only those living in quake-ravaged areas, but all around the country.

Many scientists are among them. For instance, the Japan Proton Accelerator Research Complex (J-PARC) has been shut down due to earthquake damage. Researchers using electricity-hungry supercomputers at other facilities had their work put on hold due to the power shortages still afflicting the country.

That’s where researchers in the Energy Department’s Office of Science have come in. Scientists at Oak Ridge National Laboratory have given their Japanese counterparts time on the Spallation Neutron Source (SNS) and High Flux Isotope Reactor, both of which are similar to the experimental equipment at J-PARC. The team at SNS has accepted two-dozen research proposals from J-PARC scientists, who expect to complete their work before December.

Read more

CMS Result

One at a time

While top quarks have been more commonly found produced in pairs, this analysis looked for top quarks created one at a time. The time between observation of pair production and single quark production was very short and is a strong demonstration of the performance of the CMS detector.

Last week, the CMS Result described the measurement of the mass of the top quark at the LHC, as well as how frequently it is produced. However, what you might not have realized was that article described the production of top quark pairs, rather than a single top quark. Making or observing two of something sounds harder than making just one, but it is actually more difficult to produce a single quark. Today's article describes the recent observation of the single top by the CMS experiment.

By any measure, top quarks are extremely rare, even at the LHC. Top quark always decay into bottom quarks and W bosons, and the W bosons decay either into two quarks or a lepton and a neutrino. The problem is that (a) bottom quarks and W bosons are produced in more ordinary ways far more often than top quarks and (b) due to an imperfect detector and particle identification algorithms, it is possible to misidentify an event as having a bottom quark and a W boson, when the event actually contains neither. This second issue is very difficult to overcome. Even though it is quite rare for ordinary events to mimic top quarks, there are so many ordinary events that these fake top quark events swamp the real ones.

What makes top quark pair production easier to identify are statistics and probability. If it is rare to make a fake top quark, faking two is extremely rare. Because of this, events that seem to contain two top quarks are likely to actually contain top quarks. This is mainly the reason why single top quark production was observed at the Tevatron about 15 years after the observation of top quark pair production.

CMS's recent announcement of the observation of single top is therefore quite an achievement. By employing the extraordinary performance of the detector, algorithms and the teams that made them possible, the rate at which ordinary events are mistaken for ones containing a single top quark has been suppressed enough to make observation of single top relatively straightforward. This achievement is only possible because of the exceptional performance of the CMS detector and bodes well for our searches for truly new phenomena.

— Don Lincoln

It is impossible to isolate events containing single top quarks without identifying the bottom quark into which they decay. This group has contributed to the CMS bottom quark identification effort.
In the News

Science odyssey: Will US concede particle physics to Europe?

From Star City Blog, July 2, 2011

For decades, the Tevatron at Fermilab, in Batavia, Illinois, has been the world's leader in the search for subatomic particles. Recently, however, Europe's Large Hadron Collider has surpassed its firepower, and now Tevatron is about to close down for good. Does this mean the end of US leadership in high-energy physics? On today's program we hear the latest from the LHC, courtesy of physicist Ken Bloom, who is on site at CERN, and in Part 2 we hear from Fermilab's longtime associate director of research, Greg Bock, on how his lab has every intention of moving ahead.

Listen to the broadcast


10,000 Steps-a-Day iPod winner

Detailed org chart, financial, procurement, and property web queries downtime July 8 and 9

Join Fermilab's new scuba diving club

Housing Office now taking requests for Fall and Spring housing

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International Folk Dancing in Ramsey Auditorium

Argentine Tango at Fermilab in Ramsey Auditorium

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