Tuesday, July 21, 2015
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From symmetry

More data, no problem

Scientists are ready to handle the increased data of the current run of the Large Hadron Collider.

Physicist Alexx Perloff, a graduate student at Texas A&M University on the CMS experiment, is using data from the first run of the Large Hadron Collider for his thesis, which he plans to complete this year. When all is said and done, it will have taken Perloff a year and a half to collect the computing time necessary to analyze all the information he needs — not unusual for a thesis.

But had he had the computing tools LHC scientists are using now, he estimates he could have finished his particular kind of analysis in about three weeks — the equivalent of having 26 times the computing resources. Although Perloff represents only one scientist working on the LHC, his experience shows the great leaps scientists have made in LHC computing by democratizing their data, becoming more responsive to popular demand and improving their analysis software.

A deluge of data
Scientists estimate the current run of the LHC could create up to 10 times more data than the first one. CERN already routinely stores 6 gigabytes (or 6 billion units of digital information) per second, up from 1 gigabyte per second in the first run.

The second run of the LHC is more data-intensive because the accelerator itself is more intense: The collision energy is 60 percent greater, resulting in "pile-up" or more collisions per proton bunch. Proton bunches are also injected into the ring closer together, resulting in more collisions per second.

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Katie Elyce Jones

In Brief

Colloquium: Guesstimation: solving problems on the back of a napkin - 4 p.m. tomorrow

Larry Weinstein

Professor Larry Weinstein of Old Dominion University will give the Colloquium tomorrow at 4 p.m. in One West.

Weinstein is the author of Guesstimation: Solving the World's Problems on the Back of a Cocktail Napkin with John Adam and Guesstimation 2.0: Solving Today's Problems on the Back of a Napkin, soon to be a major motion picture. Weinstein also edits the monthly Fermi Problems column for the journal The Physics Teacher. In his spare time, he smashes atoms at Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility, work for which he was named a fellow of the American Physical Society.

Weinstein's talk will cover the principles of estimating, introduce the "Goldilocks" categories of answers and look at how we can answer big (and small) questions of our time without relying on experts, such as: Gasoline or electric cars? Does it really matter if you don't recycle that plastic water bottle? What does it really take to stop a neutrino?

Photos of the Day

Hanging onto bark

A poison ivy vine wraps itself around a fallen trunk in the Woods by Wilson Hall. Photo: Leticia Shaddix, PPD
Shelf fungi begin to grow. Photo: Leticia Shaddix, PPD
The early morning sun shines on these mushroom outside Wilson Hall. Photo: Leticia Shaddix, PPD
From the Deputy Director

DUNE and LBNF on the move

Joe Lykken

Last week a distinguished committee of 24 experts conducted a comprehensive Critical Decision 1 review of the DUNE and LBNF projects for the Department of Energy. Steve Meador, head of the Office of Project Assessment for the DOE Office of Science, chaired the review, with Jim Siegrist and Mike Procario of the Office of High Energy Physics observing.

Fermilab has participated in quite a few critical decision reviews in the year since the P5 report, "Building for Discovery," set the course for U.S. particle physics. But last week's event was not "just another review." DUNE, combined with LBNF, is the largest new initiative at Fermilab since the Tevatron and would be the first truly international megascience project ever hosted in the United States. In short, this review was a really, really big deal.

The project teams were led by Elaine McCluskey, LBNF project manager, and Eric James, DUNE technical coordinator, along with DUNE spokespeople André Rubbia and Mark Thomson and DUNE resource coordinator Chang Kee Jung. Also on hand were Sergio Bertolucci and Marzio Nessi of CERN, and leadership of the former LBNO and LBNE collaborations, including Dario Autiero and Jim Strait. The new LBNF far-site project manager, Mike Headley, led a contingent from the South Dakota Science and Technology Authority.

Reviewers for DOE critical decisions are not selected for their propensity to be nice. On the final day closeout, even the most experienced project team perches on their seats in trepidation, expecting to have their ears boxed. Thursday's closeout for DUNE and LBNF was a dense hour of findings, comments, and recommendations, but the tone was highly positive. Here are a few quotes from the closeout slides:

DUNE: "The DUNE collaboration is growing and well engaged and led by a strong, well-organized management team. An impressive CDR document has been produced."

Beamline: "The beamline design team is highly qualified and was well prepared. Many have worked on the previous neutrino beamlines and bring that world-leading experience to the table."

Far-site conventional facilities: Strong team with an in-depth knowledge of the site and facilities.

Cost and schedule: "All DOE and non-DOE scope is included in the preliminary baseline and is consistent with LHC (CERN) costing practices ... The committee found the preliminary baseline to be complete and comprehensive. In some areas, maturity is beyond CD-1."

Management: "Very (very) strong management team members in place on both projects."

The next morning, Friday at 7:45 a.m., the "very (very) strong management team" assembled for their daily meeting with Pepin Carolan, the DOE federal project director for DUNE/LBNF. Time for a few minutes of relaxed self-congratulation? Absolutely not — instead a laser-like focus on the path to the next major hurdle: a CD3a review later this year enabling a construction start for the far-site facilities.

A strong week for the future of neutrino science.

In the News

Forsaken pentaquark particle spotted at CERN

From Nature, July 14, 2015

An exotic particle made up of five quarks has been discovered a decade after experiments seemed to rule out its existence.

The short-lived 'pentaquark' was spotted by researchers analysing data on the decay of unstable particles in the LHCb experiment at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN, Europe's particle-physics laboratory near Geneva. The finding, says LHCb spokesperson Guy Wilkinson, opens a new era in physicists' understanding of the strong nuclear force that holds atomic nuclei together.

"The pentaquark is not just any new particle — it represents a way to aggregate quarks, namely the fundamental constituents of ordinary protons and neutrons, in a pattern that has never been observed before," he says. "Studying its properties may allow us to understand better how ordinary matter, the protons and neutrons from which we're all made, is constituted."

Protons and neutrons are made up of three kinds of quarks bound together, but theorists calculate that, in principle, particles could be made of up to five quarks. Such particles would be rich testing grounds for quantum chromodynamics (QCD) — the theory that describes the forces that hold quarks together.

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