Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Have a safe day!

Wednesday, April 9

3:30 p.m.


Thursday, April 10

11 a.m.
Academic Lecture Series - One West
Speaker: Zheng-Tian Lu, Argonne National Laboratory
Title: Searches for the EDMs of Nuclei

2:30 p.m.
Theoretical Physics Seminar - Curia II
Speaker: Tim Tait, University of California, Irvine
Title: Self-Interacting Dark Matter from a Non-Abelian Hidden Sector

3:30 p.m.

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Wilson Hall Cafe

Wednesday, April 9

- Breakfast: crustless quiche casserole
- Breakfast: ham, egg and cheese English muffin
- Western barbecue burger
- Smart cuisine: spinach and jack cheese enchiladas
- Stuffed pork chops
- Zesty turkey pastrami sandwich
- Mandarin orange pecan chicken salad
- Smart cuisine: Cuban black bean soup
- Texas-style chili
- Assorted calzones

Wilson Hall Cafe menu

Chez Leon

Wednesday, April 9
- Bayou catfish with Creole sauce
- Island rice
- Sauteed green beans
- Chocolate pecan pie with bourbon cream

Friday, April 11
- Mixed greens with dried cranberries, walnuts and blue cheese
- Veal limone
- Escarole and Tuscan beans
- Mixed berry pie

Chez Leon menu
Call x3524 to make your reservation.


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From symmetry

Searching for the holographic universe

Physicist Aaron Chou keeps the Holometer experiment — which looks for a phenomenon whose implications border on the unreal — grounded in the realities of day-to-day operations. Photo: Reidar Hahn

The beauty of the small operation — the mom-and-pop restaurant or the do-it-yourself home repair — is that pragmatism begets creativity. The industrious individual who makes do with limited resources is compelled onto paths of ingenuity, inventing rather than following rules to address the project's peculiarities.

As project manager for the Holometer experiment at Fermilab, physicist Aaron Chou runs a show that, though grandiose in goal, is remarkably humble in setup. Operated out of a trailer by a small team with a small budget, it has the feel more of a scrappy startup than of an undertaking that could make humanity completely rethink our universe.

The experiment is based on the proposition that our familiar, three-dimensional universe is a manifestation of a two-dimensional, digitized space-time. In other words, all that we see around us is no more than a hologram of a more fundamental, lower-dimensional reality.

If this were the case, then space-time would not be smooth; instead, if you zoomed in on it far enough, you would begin to see the smallest quantum bits — much as a digital photo eventually reveals its fundamental pixels.

In 2009, the GEO600 experiment, which searches for gravitational waves emanating from black holes, was plagued by unaccountable noise. This noise could, in theory, be a telltale sign of the universe's smallest quantum bits. The Holometer experiment seeks to measure space-time with far more precision than any experiment before — and potentially observe effects from those fundamental bits.

Such an endeavor is thrilling — but also risky. Discovery would change the most basic assumptions we make about the universe. But there also might not be any holographic noise to find. So for Chou, managing the Holometer means building and operating the apparatus on the cheap — not shoddily, but with utmost economy.

Thus Chou and his team take every opportunity to make rather than purchase, to pick up rather than wait for delivery, to seize the opportunity and take that measurement when all the right people are available.

"It's kind of like solving a Rubik's cube," Chou says. "You have an overview of every aspect of the measurement that you're trying to make. You have to be able to tell the instant something doesn't look right, and tell that it conflicts with some other assumption you had. And the instant you have a conflict, you have to figure out a way to resolve it. It's a lot of fun."

Chou is one of the experiment's 1.5 full-time staff members; a complement of students rounds out a team of 10. Although Chou is essentially the overseer, he runs the experiment from down in the trenches.

Read more

Leah Hesla

In the News

Ubiquitous, yet elusive

From College of William and Mary's Ideation, April 8, 2014

Neutrinos are interesting to physicists for some of the same reasons that pottery shards are interesting to archaeologists. Just as archaeologists study broken clay pieces to construct a story about the society that produced them, physicists examine neutrinos to learn more about the events and processes from which these sub-atomic particles have their origins.

The Big Bang produced neutrinos — particles that are still zooming through space yet today. Atomic power plants produce neutrinos. The fusion furnace of our sun pumps out neutrinos. When a star goes supernova, the process generates an enormous spurt of neutrinos.

Read more

In the News

A sort of particle-free supersymmetry found in exotic materials

From ars technica, April 3, 2014

Many of the great successes of particle physics involve symmetries of nature and the occasional violation of those symmetries. Discoveries such as the Higgs boson are strong vindications of this view of the world and of the Standard Model that describes these particles.

An extension to the Standard Model, called supersymmetry, takes this idea further by incorporating symmetries of space-time, as the name suggests. One side effect of supersymmetry in particle physics is the prediction of a partner to each known particle, which (among other things) could help solve the mystery of dark matter.

Despite intensive searches at the Large Hadron Collider, none of these supersymmetric partners have been detected in nature yet. However, Tarun Grover, D. N. Sheng, and Ashvin Vishwanath proposed in a new paper that an analog of supersymmetry could exist in certain exotic superconducting systems. By manipulating the characteristics of materials called "topological superconductors," researchers should be able to change particle-like excitations into their supersymmetric partners. The similarity in the physical description of these different systems could provide some important insights into the possible nature of supersymmetry and its violation in nature.

Read more

From the Core Computing Division

Keeping software up to date

Jon Bakken

Jon Bakken, head of the Core Computing Division, wrote this column.

Updates and upgrades — two words many people don't like to hear when the words apply to software applications that employees depend on to do their jobs. Updates and upgrades, part of the normal software life cycle, are performed for the business of running the lab and for its scientific programs.

We have planned many software upgrades for the next month. We've tried to work collaboratively with your divisions, sections or centers to ensure these changes are as transparent as possible and that the software tools continue to meet your requirements. Please watch for detailed announcements on each upgrade to learn how you will be affected.

Security is one reason we update software products. Java is one of those underlying applications that many other applications depend on. Unfortunately, it has severe incompatibilities between even minor versions. For example, the Java version required for one recent version of TeamCenter is completely incompatible with the latest version of Kronos, the system we use to fill out our timecards. This has generated the need for cascading upgrades, as many applications that use Java also then need updating. A major Java upgrade that affects about 1,200 computers is currently under way at the lab.

Another reason for upgrades arises when vendors stop supporting old product versions. A newer version must be deployed in these cases. For example, the current version of the Kronos Fermilab Time and Labor timecard system will soon become unsupported by the vendor. We will deploy a new version on April 16, and this will affect all of us. The good news is that once you are in the Fermilab Time and Labor website, everything will look the same. The bad news is that the URLs you use to get there will change. Your old links will be redirected for a time, but please make sure you update your bookmarks after the rollout.

The introduction of new applications at the lab may bring along with it several dependent products that require versions higher than those currently deployed. For example, the FermiWorks launch at the end of June will depend on higher versions of Flash and HTML5-compatible browsers, and we must upgrade those components for a successful rollout of FermiWorks.

We will give you more detailed announcements on all these upgrades over the next few months. Please watch for them!

Photos of the Day

3-D chip, up close

Each of the integrated circuits you see here is about 6 millimeters on a side and projects one one-thousandth of an inch above the surface of the larger sensor wafer on which it sits, together forming a functional detector. Although it may be hard to believe, each device is made of two incredibly thin circuit layers and a purposely thicker sensor tier, stacked much like the layers of a cake. The layers are fused together with a special glue called DBI, developed by Ziptronix. Tiny tungsten finger-like projections (not seen) run vertically through the layers to provide electrical inter-tier connections. Looking at a larger image, you can see three different detector types, distinguished here by their patterns of contacts. One is for the CMS upgrade, another is for a lepton collider, and the third is for X-ray correlation spectroscopy. Fermilab is behind the novel concept of the detector devices and design, which are known as 3-D integrated chips, and company Tezzaron fabricated them. Brookhaven National Laboratory built the sensor. Photo: Reidar Hahn
Safety Update

ESH&Q weekly report, April 8

This week's safety report, compiled by the Fermilab ESH&Q Section, contains no incidents.

Find the full report here.


Today's New Announcements

SciFinder training - today

Horseshoe closed on morning of April 10

Budker Seminar - April 14

Book Fair - today

LabVIEW seminars scheduled on April 10

Strength Training registration due April 11

Interpersonal Communication Skills course - April 16

Edward Tufte artist reception - April 16

Tour guides for Illini Alumni event - May 3

West bike rack area closed

On sale now: Fermilab Natural Areas hats and shirts

Abri Credit Union gives away two $1,000 scholarships

Active For Life Multilab Challenge

A Smart Cuisine purchase earns you 10 bonus points

Walk 2 Run

2014 Fermilab Golf League season is upon us

Wednesday Walkers

Scottish country dancing meets Tuesday evenings at Kuhn Barn

International folk dancing meets Thursday evenings at Kuhn Barn

Indoor soccer