Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2014

Have a safe day!

Tuesday, Feb. 25

3:30 p.m.

4 p.m.
Accelerator Physics and Technology Seminar - One West
Speaker: Linda Valerio, Ryan Schultz and Joe DeMarco, Fermilab
Title: Laser Welded Beam Tube: Testing and Application

Wednesday, Feb. 26

11 a.m.
Intensity Frontier Seminar (NOTE DATE) - WH8XO
Speaker: Juan Jose Gomez-Cadenas, University of Valencia
Title: Exploring the Majorana Landscape: the NEXT Generation

3:30 p.m.


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Secon Level 3

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Flags at full staff

Wilson Hall Cafe

Tuesday, Feb. 25

- Breakfast: All-American breakfast
- Breakfast: bacon, egg and cheese bagel
- Chicken fajita sandwich
- Smart cuisine: Mediterranean baked tilapia
- Italian lasagna
- Rachel melt
- Chicken BLT ranch salad
- Beef and rice soup
- Chef's choice soup
- Assorted pizza by the slice

Wilson Hall Cafe menu

Chez Leon

Wednesday, Feb. 26
- Shrimp and sausage gumbo
- Mixed green salad
- Bread pudding

Friday, Feb. 28

Chez Leon menu
Call x3524 to make your reservation.


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To catch a falling asteroid: Dark Energy Camera scientists locate object passing Earth

This Dark Energy Survey observing team was on shift at the Dark Energy Camera in Chile when they got the call to check out a potentially hazardous asteroid. From left: Steve Kent (Fermilab and University of Chicago), Alex Drlica-Wagner (Fermilab) and Hernan Tirado, telescope operator at the Cerro-Tololo Inter-American Observatory, where DECam is housed. Photo: Sara Barber, University of Oklahoma

For seven minutes earlier this month, two Fermilab physicists moonlighted as astronomers who, like the Men in Black, were positioned to protect the Earth from the scum of the universe.

On Feb. 3, Alex Drlica-Wagner and Steve Kent were in Chile taking data for the Dark Energy Survey when they received an email stating that a satellite telescope had picked up signs of a potentially hazardous asteroid, one whose orbit might soon meet with Earth's.

The message had come from a scientist at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Bad weather in the northern hemisphere had foiled attempts by JPL's two go-to cameras to photograph the asteroid, hindering the lab's ability to predict its orbit. Could the Dark Energy Camera take a bit of time off from its usual task of imaging distant galaxies to take pictures of this near-Earth object?

"We know about thousands of these asteroids," said Kent, SCD. "Of course, one we didn't know about hit Russia last year, so there's a lot of interest."

Since the asteroid was new on the orbital block, astronomers had only a rough idea of where it was headed. They did know it would soon pass in line with the sun and thus be difficult to spot in photographs.

"If we didn't follow up on it within two days, they weren't going to be able to follow it up anytime soon," said Drlica-Wagner of Fermilab's Center for Particle Astrophysics. "Because of the weather and the uncertainty of the predictions, DECam was the only thing that could pull it off."

Given Chile's clear skies and DECam's large field of view, Drlica-Wagner and Kent were fairly confident they could catch the asteroid on camera in five takes, even if its predicted location was only an estimate. They punched in the coordinates JPL gave them and took their shots. Seven minutes later, they had photos.

The asteroid turned up in all five, though it wasn't immediately apparent. The images had to be processed by the National Optical Astronomy Observatory in Tucson, Ariz., and coordinates submitted to the Minor Planet Center in Cambridge, Mass., to figure out the orbit. The results were then sent to JPL.

The asteroid looked just like the faint stars that it shared the photos with, except for one characteristic — it appeared in different positions in the five images, just the way a cartoon dot would move in a flipbook.

After combining the pictures with the satellite data, the asteroid-tracking crew brought good news.

"People shouldn't be particularly worried," Drlica-Wagner said. At its closest approach to Earth on March 1, newly discovered Apollo-class asteroid 2014 BE63 will be 18 million miles away.

The Dark Energy Camera scientists were glad to come to the aid of fellow astronomers.

"In astronomy there are always things that are time-critical in nature. People will say, 'You're at the telescope. Can you do something for me?'" Kent said. "It's a bit of a tradition to help when you can."

He added jokingly, "In this case, saving the Earth was an extra factor, so we thought it was generous."

Leah Hesla

Apollo-class asteroid 2014 BE63 looks like a faint star in the images taken by the Dark Energy Camera in Chile. The two cameras that the Jet Propulsion Laboratory usually uses to photograph near-Earth objects, in Arizona and Hawaii, were hindered by cloudy weather. Click image for more information. Image courtesy of Steve Kent, SCD
In the News

The future of particle physics?

From The Guardian, Feb. 22, 2014

Just over a year ago I was up a mountain, in fog and hail, at the South-Western tip of Sicily. Along with about fifty other delegates, I was discussing the future of particle physics. This was the Erice meeting where we drafted the update of the European Strategy for particle physics. Although the meeting was convened by the council of CERN, it concerned much more than the future of the laboratory in Geneva that currently runs the Large Hadron Collider — the 27km circumference accelerator where the Higgs boson was recently discovered.

The year 2012 saw not only the Higgs boson discovery, but also the measurement of a key parameter, θ13, describing the way that neutrinos behave, and numerous other significant results. These results have a big impact of what we might do next in our exploration of fundamental physics. From days of argument in the cold, stone-floored rooms of Erice, four large high-priority projects emerged. There has been news recently on all of them, and here is an update.

Read more

In the News

Cosmic mismatch hints at the existence of a "sterile" neutrino

From Scientific American, Feb. 20, 2014

Neutrinos, some of the most abundant particles in the universe, are also among the most mysterious. We know they have mass but not how much. We know they come in at least three types, or "flavors" — but there may be more. A new study found that a mismatch between observations of galaxy clusters and measurements of the cosmic background radiation could be explained if neutrinos are more massive than is usually thought. It also offers tantalizing hints that a fourth type of hitherto unseen neutrino exists.

Read more

From the Directorate

Warriors of winter

Associate Director for Operations Support
Randy Ortgiesen

With many good topics to write about, I began earlier this month to draft today's column in my mind. The column highlighted the great progress on the muon campus; the WDRS annual meeting I recently attended to hear a review of FY13 successes and FY14 plans; the lab's efforts to create a new lab agenda to help guide and communicate our objectives; funding for our first Science Laboratory Infrastructure utility upgrade project to fund the replacement of the main electrical master substation; and progress on implementing the Fermilab Campus Master Plan. All of these efforts clearly demonstrate a positive direction for Fermilab.

But then I woke up to another couple of inches of snow and ice. As I was clearing my driveway (again), I was reminded of how emotionally and physically tired I've been with snow removal this season. You've heard all of the winter weather stats on the news about our third-snowiest winter in history. With double the typical snowfall and weather events, we've had to double the labor and salt to remove the snow here at the lab. At Fermilab, we're up to 65½ inches of snow, handled by 42 different call-outs (after-hour snow removal events) and with 1,200 tons of salt, which were dispersed on 32 miles of roads and 122 acres of parking lots. You may have also noticed that we're mixing salt with sand to help extend our remaining 450 tons of salt as long as possible. This will be particularly useful when temperatures fall below zero, as has happened 22 days so far this winter.

You'll hear more at a later date on the great progress the lab is making to prepare and execute plans for our future. Today, instead, I want to recognize the winter warriors. They have responded remarkably once again to one of our most challenging winters. They keep laboratory roads, parking lots, walkways and electrical equipment clear of snow and ice to allow the laboratory to continue operations in a safe and reliable manner.

Not only did these crews from FESS Roads and Grounds, division and section building management, electricians, high-voltage engineers and janitorial staff superbly battle the snow, ice and wind, they also had to ensure that storm drains, culverts, ditches and sump pumps were freely flowing last week with the unusually warmer temperatures and rain. Additionally, a January power outage and associated lost heating in subzero temperatures took place in the Village due to a winter storm.

Unless these winter warriors are specifically recognized, we might begin to take for granted the outstanding support they've provided at all hours of the day and night to ensure the laboratory is open for business and that its scientific mission is being carried out. I thank them for their ongoing efforts in all types of weather. Here's looking forward to spring.

Construction Update

First building in muon campus nears completion

Construction crews are making good progress on the MC-1 Building exterior. Photo: Brian Drendel, AD

Despite the challenges of winter construction, the MC-1 Building continues with the installation of the bridge crane, capable of moving up to 30 tons, and the completion of the exterior siding, windows and roofing. The large slot in front of the Experimental Hall (toward the left of the picture) will be closed off with a temporary wall until the Muon g-2 storage ring is moved into the building later this year.

Work continues in the Refrigeration Room to install the cryogenic equipment in support of the Muon g-2 and Mu2e experiments. Beneficial occupancy of the Experimental Hall to start installing the ring is expected in April.

Russ Alber

Photo of the Day

Flags unflagging

The flags fly high in front of Wilson Hall. Image: Ben Galan, AD

Today's New Announcements

FermiPoint doctor-is-in booth in atrium - Feb. 26-28

School's Day Out - Feb. 28

Lunch and Learn about bone health and osteoporosis - today

Zumba Fitness registration due today

Fermilab Natural Areas annual meeting - today

Lunch and Learn: BCBS, Prime Therapeutics online tools - Feb. 26

Zumba Toning registration due Feb. 27

Society of Philosophy Club meets Feb. 27

Butts & Guts registration due Feb. 28

Direct from Ireland: Alan Kelly Gang - Fermilab Arts Series - March 1

Deadline for on-site summer housing requests - March 3

Interaction Management course - March 6, 13 and 20

Rembrandt Chamber Players - Gallery Chamber Series - March 9

Performance Review course: March 26 or 27

Martial arts

International folk dancing meets Thursday evenings at Kuhn Barn

Scottish country dancing meets Tuesday evenings at Kuhn Barn