Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Have a safe day!

Tuesday, June 19
Undergraduate Lecture Series - One West
Speaker: André de Gouvêa, Fermilab
Title: The Intensity Frontier
3:30 p.m.
4 p.m.
Accelerator Physics and Technology Seminar (NOTE LOCATION) - Curia II
Speaker: Sampriti Bhattacharyya, Ohio State University
Title: Reliability and Controls for Project X and Applications to Accelerator-Driven Systems

Wednesday, June 20
12:30 p.m.
Physics for Everyone (NOTE LOCATION) - Curia II
Speaker: Ruth Pordes and Derek Weitzel, Fermilab
Title: Connecting the World's Scientists with Computing Power
3:30 p.m.
4 p.m.
Fermilab Colloquium - One West
Speaker: Xiang Zhang, University of California, Berkeley
Topic: Optical Metamaterials: Negative Refraction, Superlens and Plasmon Lasers

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Wilson Hall Cafe

Tuesday, June 19

- Breakfast: Bagel sandwich
- Golden broccoli cheese soup
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- Burgundy beef tips
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Wednesday, June 20
- Pork satay w/ peanut sauce
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- Sautéed pea pods
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Friday, June 22

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For Fermilab’s bison farm, a surprise times five

One of the five newborn bison calves stays close to its mother. Photo: Joseph Piergrossi

Four weeks ago, Cleo Garcia, Fermilab’s resident bison herdsman, noticed a few bison cows had unusually full udders. Within the span of the past two weeks, those cows have given Fermilab five new calves.

The new arrivals come as a big surprise. In 2010, Garcia and the farm’s veterinarians believed the timing of the cows’ breeding cycles would not allow them to reproduce. In early October last fall, Garcia separated three young bulls from the herd, and the farm sold off the oldest one.

“Evidently, before that, the youngest bull decided to leave its mark,” Garcia said.

The farm controls when the bulls interact with the cows to avoid calves being born during winter or summer, when temperatures are too extreme. In April, the farm received two new bulls from a ranch in Wisconsin in hopes of breeding calves for next year, thinking this year there would be no new offspring. Then came this month's surprises.

The first calf was born on May 30, with another three arriving between June 5 and 6 and the most recent on June 9. All of the calves – and their mothers – are in good health. A sixth calf may be on the way.

After the birth of the fourth calf, Garcia drove his truck into the field of tall grass, where the bison were calmly eating and rolling in the dusty dirt. The new mothers backed away, protecting their brood.

“Who knows, we might have another beyond the sixth one,” Garcia said, pointing to another cow that was starting to show signs she was expecting. “I think it’s wonderful. It’s always good when the herd can grow.”

Joseph Piergrossi

From symmetry breaking

Beating the odds in the study of ultra-high-energy cosmic rays

Scientists pose triumphantly with a newly installed EASIER-61 detector. Photo: LPNHE

About two times per month, an ultra-high-energy particle from beyond this galaxy crashes through Earth’s atmosphere above the Pierre Auger Cosmic Ray Observatory in Argentina.

It’s a mystery where these cosmic rays come from and what they’re made of. But a new technique, currently in the works, could drastically improve scientists’ chances of finding out.

“The number one challenge in this field is statistics,” said astrophysicist Angela Olinto of the University of Chicago.

Ultra-high-energy cosmic rays are rare, and scientists’ best way of detecting them works only 10 percent of the time. This is because they use telescopes to search for ultraviolet light that cosmic rays release when they run into nitrogen in the atmosphere. The light is visible only on dark, moonless nights.

Read more

Kathryn Grim

Photo of the Day

Graduation day

Congratulations to the kindergarten graduates at the Fermilab Children’s Center. The ceremony was held on May 29. Photo: Reidar Hahn
In the News

United States regains lead with world’s fastest supercomputer

From DOE, June 18, 2012

WASHINGTON – Energy Secretary Steven Chu today announced that a supercomputer called Sequoia at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) in Livermore, California, received the rank of the world’s most powerful computing system. The Top500 list, which annually ranks the world’s fastest supercomputers, released its list at the International Supercomputing Conference (ISC12) in Hamburg, Germany on Monday, June 18.

Supercomputers at three other Department of Energy national laboratories ranked in the top 20: Mira at Argonne National Laboratory in Argonne, Illinois, ranked third; Jaguar at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, ranked sixth; and Cielo, jointly operated by Sandia National Laboratory in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and Los Alamos National Laboratory in Los Alamos, New Mexico, ranked fifteenth.

Read more
Director's Corner

This week's Director's Corner will appear tomorrow, Wednesday, June 20.


Bodhitha Jayatilaka wins 2012 URA Tollestrup Award

Bodhitha Jayatilaka
Photo: Reidar Hahn

Over five years ago, when Bodhitha Jayatilaka decided he wanted to make a better measurement of the W boson mass, several of his peers equated this desire with something approaching lunacy. But he understood the task differently, as a chance to solve an important problem from start to finish.

It was meticulous work, but Jayatilaka’s dedication earned him this year’s URA Alvin Tollestrup Outstanding Postdoctoral Research Award for leading the effort to produce the most precise measurement ever made of the W boson’s mass.

The Tollestrup Award is given annually for outstanding work conducted by a postdoctoral researcher at Fermilab or in collaboration with Fermilab scientists.

The honor came as a surprise to Jayatilaka, a postdoc at Duke University.

“I know several of the other candidates, and I think very highly of them and their work,” he said.

Narrowing the possible mass range of the heavy W boson helps scientists close in on the last big missing piece of the Standard Model, the Higgs boson. Though much has been made of the attempts to track down that particle, pegging the size of the W has its own trials. As the prize’s namesake Alvin Tollestrup said at the June 13 award presentation, “It’s an incredibly messy measurement to make.”

Most of the mess is the particular aftermath of a collision that results in a W decay. To measure the W precisely, one has to measure each member of its decay cascade precisely. That requires a detailed understanding of the detector’s response to the decays and of physics beyond W production in the Tevatron environment.

Data was read through the hundreds of thousands of channels in the Tevatron’s CDF detector, where Jayatilaka made the W measurement.

“Achieving this kind of precision requires accounting for effects and looking at detail that pretty much no other analysis at CDF, or any other collider experiment, does,” Jayatilaka said.

“The committee had an extraordinarily competitive set of submissions,” said Northeastern University’s Emanuela Barberis, chair of the Tollestrup Award committee. “Dr. Jayatilaka’s work on the measurement of the W mass was impressive in many ways, requiring an unmatched understanding of the detector and the underlying physics.”

In 2009, scientists had measured the W mass to within 0.04 percent by combining results from experiments including those at CERN's former Large Electron-Positron collider and at the Tevatron. Jayatilaka’s recent work at CDF helped shrink that uncertainty to 0.02 percent, showing the mass to be 80,387 ± 19 MeV. It also helped significantly boost the Tevatron's share in the new world average.

“It’s five years of work condensed into two numbers,” he said.

“This is a cornerstone measurement for the Tevatron,” Barberis said. “It takes years of dedicated work and strong leadership to pull together a result such as this, and Dr. Jayatilaka succeeded at it.”

Leah Hesla


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