Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2013

Have a safe day!

Wednesday, Feb. 20

3:30 p.m.


Thursday, Feb. 21

2:30 p.m.
Theoretical Physics Seminar - Curia II
Speaker: Brian Batell, University of Chicago
Title: Higgs Couplings and Precision Electroweak Data

3:30 p.m.


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Wednesday, Feb. 20

- Breakfast: breakfast casserole
- Golden broccoli and cheddar soup
- Chicken cordon bleu sandwich
- Traditional turkey dinner
- Smart cuisine: beef bourguignon
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Chez Leon

Wednesday, Feb. 20
- Cornish hens
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- Glazed baby carrots
- Pumpkin cheesecake

Friday, Feb. 22

Chez Leon Menu
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NOvA data concentrator modules near completion

The NOvA data concentrator module collects and organizes all the particle interaction information generated inside the detector. Engineers are completing the design and testing of the system. Photo: Reidar Hahn

News on Fermilab's NOvA experiment has largely focused on the assembly of the enormous blocks that make up the football-field-sized particle detector in Minnesota. But elsewhere in the NOvA collaboration, engineers have been diligently plugging away at a more hidden-away part of the detector, a component without which the giant device would never be able to intelligibly reveal what it sees.

This crucial component is the circuitry and computer code that make up NOvA's data concentrator modules, or DCMs. Now, after several years of design work and many months of testing and prototyping, engineers are completing the system. Nearly all that remains is for the modules to be installed onto the NOvA detector blocks as they, too, are installed.

"Many people worked hard to develop a DCM system we expect to run very smoothly," said Fermilab's Ron Rechenmacher, who led one of the DCM hardware-software integration efforts.

The NOvA DCM is a key component of the detector's data acquisition system, which is responsible for collecting and organizing all the particle interaction information generated inside NOvA's two detectors. When a particle interacts inside the detector, its energy is transmitted through the detector's fiber optic system as light signals, which get converted to digital signals by electronics boards, travel through the DCMs and eventually make their way to the larger data acquisition system. The electronics boards and DCM together convert the signals into language that experimenters can later analyze.

NOvA's DCM system comprises about 180 modules. Each of these custom modules, about the size of a briefcase, attaches to the detector. One hundred sixty-eight of them are assigned to NOvA's far detector in Minnesota, and a dozen or so belong to the smaller near detector at Fermilab.

To minimize costs and facilitate data taking, the DCM team worked to fit as many data channels into a module as reasonable. For the NOvA detectors, that meant arranging 64 channels and all their tiny, associated circuit pathways and elements on an expansive circuit board—an arrangement that invited difficulties in fabrication but that the group nevertheless successfully achieved.

Building a DCM also involved developing software for the system's processor. Working within the limits of the selected processor's power, Fermilab software engineers worked to accomplish more with less, economically writing code so the processor could not only handle the data collection, but also deftly perform detector diagnostics and calibrations.

"If you need every last bit of performance, that's when you need to get the expert coders in there to really look at every routine and make sure it's very efficient," said hardware designer Rick Kwarciany.

Having rigorously put the DCM through its paces, the team is confident that it will do its job well and won't bring any unwanted attention to itself.

"It's always the goal to set things up so well that, five years from now, everyone's completely forgotten about us," Rechenmacher said.

Rechenmacher and Kwarciany credit the outstanding work by software and hardware teams for developing DCMs that will make data taking effortless for NOvA scientists.

"The collaborators have been helpful and easy to work with," Kwarciany said. "It's an excellent experiment to work on."

Leah Hesla

Photo of the Day

Cathedral of science

Mark Kaletka, CCD, took this vertical panorama of the Wilson Hall atrium. Taken in high dynamic range, this photo was assembled from 64 separate images.
In the News

Space station's dark matter hunter coy about findings

From New Scientist, Feb. 19, 2013

What a tease. A high-profile dark matter-hunting experiment that sits atop the International Space Station allegedly has interesting results—but its researchers are not telling.

On 17 February, Nobel laureate Samuel Ting of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who designed the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS), was due to announce the results at the American Association for the Advancement of Science meeting in Boston. But instead he told a disappointed group of reporters and scientists that his team would wait till the work was published in a journal.

Read more
From the Accelerator Division

Accelerator and NuMI upgrade shutdown status

Cons Gattuso

Cons Gattuso, Accelerator and NuMI upgrade shutdown coordinator, wrote this column.

The accelerator complex shutdown started April 30, 2012, and is slated to last roughly one year. Approximately 60 technicians and trades personnel from AD, PPD and TD have been working full time for the last 10 months in the Main Injector tunnel and NuMI beamline. They have done an outstanding job.

As part of the NOvA project, the accelerator complex infrastructure and the NuMI beamline are being upgraded to provide higher neutrino intensities than are possible in the current configuration. These upgrades focus mainly on converting the Recycler Ring from an antiproton storage machine to a pre-injector for the Main Injector.

By using the Recycler Ring as a pre-injector, we can reduce the Main Injector cycle time from 2.2 seconds to 1.33 seconds. This, along with other improvements, will yield an 80 percent increase in beam power, even though we increase the number of protons per bunch by only 10 percent. These upgrades require the construction of new transfer lines and additional radio-frequency power stations in the Recycler and Main Injector. In addition, the NuMI line must be upgraded to handle the higher proton beam powers. This involves construction of a new target, upgrades to the cooling systems and improvements to the primary proton line.

In the Main Injector, we have removed all of the antiproton equipment, which comes to over 1,400 feet of beamline components. Keeping true the Recycler name, we are reusing 60 percent of the instrumentation and 90 percent of the vacuum components. We have installed a new transfer line into the Recycler and are in the process of installing a new transfer line from the Recycler to the Main Injector. Counting all material moved, including magnets, stands and beam pipe, the crews have moved approximately 340 tons of material. More than 950,000 feet of cable have been pulled to support the new transfer lines and instrumentation.

In the NuMI target hall we have relocated Horn 2 and are currently installing an upgraded Horn 1 and target. Utilities have also been upgraded to handle the increased power load from both the shorter cycle time and the increased beam power.

The PPD alignment group has provided support to align 500-plus tunnel components and roughly 3,500 feet of beam pipe.

Most importantly, there have been zero DART injury cases in more than 100,000 hours of tunnel work.

The work will be wrapping up in the near term and the Accelerator Division will start providing protons to the experimental programs.

Safety Update

ESH&Q weekly report, Feb. 19

This week's safety report, compiled by the Fermilab ESH&Q section, contains two incidents.

An employee slipped on ice and fell, resulting in first-aid treatment.

An employee bumped his head, resulting in first-aid treatment.

Find the full report here.
In the News

Will our universe end in a 'big slurp'? Higgs-like particle suggests it might

From NBC News, Feb. 18, 2013

BOSTON—If the "Higgs-like particle" discovered last year is really the long-sought Higgs boson, the bad news is that its mass suggests the universe will end in a fast-spreading bubble of doom. The good news? It'll probably be tens of billions of years before that particular doomsday arrives.

That's one of the weirder twists coming out of the continuing analysis of results from Europe's Large Hadron Collider, which produced the first solid evidence for the existence of the Higgs boson last year. Current theory holds that the Higgs boson plays a role in imparting mass to other fundamental particles. Confirming the discovery of the Higgs would fill in the last blank spot in that theory, known as the Standard Model.

Read more

Today's New Announcements, Redmine,, etc. outages - Feb. 21

Fermilab Chamber Series: Arianna String Quartet - Mar. 10

Extended network outage at Wilson Hall - March 10

Fermilab Arts Series: The Believers (documentary) - Mar. 15

DOEGrids certificates to be decommissioned - March 23

Employee art show applications - due today

Demonstration on terrariums - mini indoor gardens - Feb. 21

Fermilab Lecture Series: Engineering Biology - Feb. 22

Special seminar - John Cary of U Colorado and Tech-X - Feb. 22

Fermilab Gallery Series: Dios no Choro (Brazilian flute and guitar)

URA Thesis Award competition applications accepted until March 1

School's Day Out - March 1

International Folk Dance 25th Anniversary party - March 2

Deadline for UChicago Tuition Remission Program - March 7

Nominations open for 2013 Tollestrup Award - through April 1

2013 FRA scholarship applications accepted until April 1

Interpersonal Communication Skills course offered in May

Martial arts class

Increased online access to scientific journals

Employee discounts