Thursday, Feb. 19, 2015

Have a safe day!

Thursday, Feb. 19

2:30 p.m.
Theoretical Physics Seminar - Curia II
Speaker: Christoph Lehner, Brookhaven National Laboratory
Title: Hadronic Contributions from Muon g-2 from Lattice QCD

3:30 p.m.
Director's Coffee Break - WH2XO

Friday, Feb. 20

2 p.m.
All-computing all-hands meeting - CDF Big Room

3:30 p.m.
Director's Coffee Break - WH2XO

4 p.m.
Joint Experimental-Theoretical Physics Seminar - One West
Speaker: Stephen Parke, Fermilab
Title: What We Really Know About the Neutrino Mixing Matrix

Visit the labwide calendar to view Fermilab events

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Wilson Hall Cafe

Thursday, Feb. 19

- Breakfast: Canadian bacon, egg and cheese Texas toast
- Breakfast: all-American breakfast
- Chicken cordon bleu sandwich
- Baked penne with chicken and mushrooms
- Mom's meatloaf
- Rosemary chicken with sun-dried tomatoes
- Greek chicken salad
- Meatball and orzo soup
- Chef's choice soup
- Assorted pizza by the slice

Wilson Hall Cafe menu

Chez Leon

Friday, Feb. 20

Wednesday, Feb. 25
- Vegetable stir fry
- Pineapple coconut banana upside-down cake

Chez Leon menu
Call x3524 to make your reservation.


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From symmetry

Craft astrophysics

Technicians on the Sloan Digital Sky Survey may be the last members of a spectroscopic survey to use hand-plugged fiber plates. Photo: David Kirkby, SDSS

A decade or two ago, technicians often spent the day snapping optical fibers into metal "plug plates" by hand so that scientists could use them to capture the light of faraway objects at night.

A plug plate is a flat disc speckled with holes that represent areas of interest in the sky. Once aimed in the right direction by a telescope, the fibers in a plug plate collect light from distant cosmological objects. That light flows through a spectrograph, which breaks it into components like a prism.

Today, most of the work of aiming the fibers for spectroscopic surveys is handled by specially designed robots. But not at the Sloan Digital Sky Survey. SDSS scientists still practice their craft by hand.

"We are the only ones doing this," says Diana Holder, a fiber optic technician at the Apache Point Observatory in New Mexico, where the SDSS telescope is located. Holder has worked on SDSS since 2007 — plugging and storing hundreds of plates over the years.

"Each fiber is like its own telescope," she says. "It is very neat."

Read more

Rich Blaustein

In Brief

All-computing all-hands meeting on Friday, Feb. 20

An all-computing all-hands meeting will be held Friday, Feb. 20, from 2-3:30 p.m. in CDF Building 327, the Big Room. If you work in the Office of the CIO, Core Computing Division or Scientific Computing Division, please plan to attend.

Speakers include Director Nigel Lockyer, CIO Rob Roser, CCD Head Jon Bakken, SCD Head Panagiotis Spentzouris and Service Manager Tammy Whited.

Photo of the Day

Bubble chamber in winter

Soft gray and white surroundings suit the bubble chamber outside Lab B. Photo: Greg Derylo, PPD
In Brief

Call for proposals: URA Visiting Scholars Program

Universities Research Association Inc. has announced a delayed deadline of Monday, March 30, for the submission of applications for the spring 2015 cycle of awards in the URA Visiting Scholars Program at Fermilab. Successful applicants should anticipate to be notified by the end of April.

These awards provide financial support for faculty and students from URA's 89 member universities to work at Fermilab for periods of up to one year. URA makes two rounds of awards each year, in the spring and fall. The application deadline for the spring 2015 cycle is March 30.

Proposed visits can range from attendance at conferences or summer schools held at Fermilab to year-long research stays. Support from this program can include transportation costs and local lodging expenses during a series of shorter visits or salary support during a longer visit. Individual awardees may receive up to a maximum of $50,000 in any 12-month period.

The program is sponsored by URA. The 89 URA member universities each have agreed to contribute $5,000 a year for five years in support of joint Fermilab-URA research and education initiatives.

For details on the URA Visiting Scholars Program at Fermilab, including eligibility, application process, award administration and the names of past award recipients, visit the URA Visiting Scholars Program website.

In the News

Is our universe supersymmetric?

From, Feb. 16, 2015

The Large Hadron Collider, the world's biggest and most famous particle accelerator, will reopen in March after a years-long upgrade. So what's the first order of business for the rebooted collider? Nothing less than looking for a particle that forces physicists to reconsider everything they think they know about how the universe works.

Read more

Physics in a Nutshell

How many forces?

Unlike in Star Wars, where there was but one force with a light and dark side, the number of fundamental forces is a much murkier question.

If you've read many of my columns, you know quite a bit about the Standard Model. You know that there are quarks and leptons. You've heard about the gluon, the W and Z bosons, the photon and the graviton. And you know that this means that there are four fundamental forces: the strong and weak nuclear forces, electromagnetism, and gravity. Easy peasy.

However, the reality is actually a lot murkier: Not all forces are independent. For instance, back in the 1830s, scientists knew of two distinct forces: electricity and magnetism. But when Maxwell wrote down his equations for electric and magnetic forces in the 1860s, it became clear that the two were really one force, electromagnetism.

Similarly, in the late 1960s, physicists mathematically unified the electromagnetic and weak forces and showed that there was just one electroweak force. Under this reasoning, there are only three forces in nature: strong, electroweak and gravity.

But then the Higgs boson was discovered in 2012, indicating yet another force, specifically the Higgs force. So now we're back up to four. On the other hand, the Higgs mechanism is the phenomenon that makes the weak force and electromagnetism appear to be different. So maybe it's tied in with the electroweak force. That statement is as much speculation as theory, but it would bring the number of fundamental forces back down to three.

And then there is the hope of physicists to unify the electroweak force and the strong force into a single grand unified theory, or GUT. This would reduce the force count to two: the electroweak-strong-Higgs force and the gravitational force. We physicists are an ambitious lot, and we eventually hope to invent a theory of everything, or TOE, which would unify GUT and gravity. This would leave us with but a single force, and the apparent fundamental forces would just be different manifestations of the one primordial force.

So where does that leave us? Well, it's probably safe to talk of five fundamental forces (strong, weak, electromagnetism, gravity and Higgs) and probably more accurate to speak of four (strong, electroweak, gravity and Higgs). But physicists are constantly trying to figure out the fundamental rules of the universe, and perhaps we are just a clever thought or two away from reducing that count further.

The bottom line is that giving a number requires that you know what you are doing and what assumptions you are making. Physics, like all science, is a fluid endeavor and changes as our understanding improves. It's not the number that matters, but rather knowing what the number means. Unless we're talking lottery numbers. Then you better get it right.

Don Lincoln

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Today's New Announcements

International folk dancing Thursday evenings at Kuhn Barn

Fermilab Natural Areas presents Hawk Talk - Feb. 21

No on-site prescription safety eyewear - Feb. 25

School's Day Out - Feb. 27

English country dancing at Kuhn Barn - March 1

NALWO Puerto Rican cooking demo - March 9

Deadline for on-site housing requests for summer 2015 - March 9

URA Thesis Award competition deadline - March 20

Managing Conflict on March 24

Getting paid the greener way - get paperless pay stubs

New ebook: Heat Exchanger Design Handbook, second edition

Microsoft Office 2013 ebooks

Fermi Singers seek new members in New Year

Yoga signup due soon

Pilates registration

Need cash for college? Abri is awarding two $1,000 scholarships

Scottish country dancing Tuesday evenings at Kuhn Barn

Indoor soccer

Open gym basketball for gym members