Fermi National Laboratory

Volume 26  |  Friday, June 13, 2003  |  Number 10
In This Issue  |  FermiNews Main Page
Enrico Onofri Enrico Onofri
University of Parma and Theory Group,
with all-important notebook and personal organizer

Parma, Italy, is a 2000-year-old town established as a Roman camp on the way to Gallia. The University of Parma has some 30,000 students and a unique Science Campus. Parma is better known for its food than for its university, but this is because the food is REALLY good—parmesan cheese, prosciutto ham, much more. I first came to Fermilab briefly in 1976 while on a NATO fellowship at Princeton. The site was beautiful, like today, and the physics was at the frontier, like today. I returned as a visitor for several summers, and now I am on sabbatical from Parma. I'm more an applied mathematician than a physicist, but my main goal is solving problems in theoretical physics. At the moment I am after a problem in two-dimensional quantum field theory. Two dimensional space-time has been a kind of playground for theorists, but it could be more important than we believe. I'm too old to work on such frontier problems as quantum gravity, or M-theory, or noncommutative geometry. I hope to really understand the nature of quark confinement and the role of non-perturbative effects in quantum chromodynamics. It's an old problem, and many people claim to have the solution, but I believe that we are still far from a satisfactory solution. As a boy, the main attraction for me was mathematics. Such books as Hilbert-ConVossen, "Intuitive Geometry," and Courant-Robbins, "What is Mathematics?" were on my desk together with Carl Barks' "Donald Duck" (I keep all of these at my fingers even today). The quest for Nature's inner secrets, started by the Greeks, continued by Kepler, Galileo, Newton, Maxwell, Einstein, Fermi…it represents the highest of human aspirations and should be supported by all countries which claim to be civilized. In my late years as a professor in Italy, I'll fight this battle!

Michel Sorel Michel Sorel
Columbia University and MiniBooNE,
with MiniBooNE horn components

The first time I came to Fermilab was in 1996, as a summer student from the University of Bologna, to learn physics and to contribute to the upgrade of the CDF detector. I've kept an excellent "souvenir" of that summer. It made it easier for me to decide to start a Ph.D. at a U.S. institution three years later. I came back to Fermilab two and a half years ago, this time to study neutrinos. In the near-term, I will do my best to contribute to the first physics results of MiniBooNE. This is a pretty exciting and busy time for us! I have not made up my mind on what Id like to do next: I may continue with neutrinos, or perhaps learn about cosmology. It is also going to depend on what MiniBooNE sees. Doing research in physics is for me both a noble and fun activity—noble, because it is motivated by the general interest of knowledge; and fun, because it requires a certain dose of personal creativity, unlike many other jobs! Getting to continuously contest your points of view with those of other physicists adds to the fun.

Chris Hays Chris Hays
Duke University and CDF,
with papers

I came to Fermilab as a graduate student on NuTeV, stayed to do my thesis work at DZero, and now I'm a post-doc at CDF. I am working on the offline tracking, and on searches for new particles. Most recently, I have worked on a search for doubly-charged particles decaying to leptons. The CDF tracking chambers will be the key components of a number of the world's best measurements, crucial steps toward understanding the origin of mass and of the matter-antimatter asymmetry in the universe. The search for doublycharged particles has the potential to dramatically alter our view of the universe. If we find a doubly-charged Higgs particle, it will provide circumstantial evidence for a right-handed weak force, a completely new force with new particles and interactions. With this new force, the low neutrino masses could be explained as a by-product of the large scale at which the left-right symmetry is broken. What motivates me in my day-to-day work is simple curiosity, a drive to understand how things work at the most fundamental level. What motivates me to give my life to improving our understanding of the universe is the belief that an understanding of the universe provides an important perspective on our place in it. We do not just live in the universe, we are a part of it. Understanding how it works gives us a sense of what our role in the universe is, and what it can be.

Amber Jenkins Amber Jenkins
Imperial College, London, and DZero,
with CP Violation teddy bears

As a scientist, I believe that communication is vital. What good is our research if we are not able to share it? Particle physics is a very esoteric subject, so we have to think outside the box to do this. I once explained the concept of CP violation to my boyfriend using teddy bears….an amusing yet highly effective method!! For me, coming to Fermilab is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. We are working together in an international collaboration sharing a common goal and similar passions. We are asking the most fundamental questions of the universe: Where do we come from? How was the universe created? How will it end? These are the most challenging questions humanity can ask, and for me the most inspiring ones. In the short term, I hope to complete my Ph.D.! I want to continue my research, and to always be excited and challenged by the work that I do. I would like to travel and see more of the world and of other cultures, to have a family and share my passions with my children. And to never stop learning. I am amazed and inspired by the people I meet: by their dedication, motivation and thirst for knowledge.

Simona Murgia Simona Murgia
Stanford University and MINOS,
with hardhat

I am originally from Cagliari, Italy. I left my beautiful island, Sardinia, to attend graduate school at Michigan State University, and soon joined the CDF collaboration. It is a very exciting time for neutrino physics. Other experiments have led us to believe that neutrinos have mass, and the goal of MINOS to detect and verify neutrino oscillations, and to make mass measurements. That final stage, the measurement, is a big part of what makes the work of an experimental particle physicist gratifying. The near and far MINOS detectors are being built and tested before data taking begins in early 2005, when a beam of neutrinos will be sent from Fermilab to a mine in northern Minnesota, where the far detector is located half a mile underground. I spent some time in Minnesota this past winter working on the detector assembly and commissioning. As the detector is being built, plane by plane, the data coming in—mostly from cosmic muons—is recorded, and we are searching for a signature from atmospheric neutrinos. The detector is already being put to work before it is even completed! It is very impressive how much work it takes before an experiment goes on-line, but in the end everything comes together and we learn something new.

Levan Babukhadia Levan Babukhadia
SUNY at Stony Brook and DZero,
with Central Track Trigger digital boards

I find it fascinating that as a physicist, not only can I ask the "big questions" about Mother Nature, but also work day-to-day on actually finding answers. At the Tevatron, the world's energy frontier, I'm working on searches for a Higgs particle. Central as it is to the Standard Model, the Higgs itself is a window to new physics. And I'm excited working on searches for supersymmetric Higgs, particularly promising at these early stages of Run II. Earlier, as a leader of a team of physicists and engineers, I worked on the fast, digital Central Track Trigger for DZero in Run II, and in particular the VHDL firmware, or 'brains', for its 500+ FPGAs. I've worked on Atlas at CERN, on inclusive jet cross sections in Run I, and in theory and phenomenology. Back in Tbilisi, Georgia, I started as a theorist working on topological field theoretical models in (2+1) dimensions, which are interesting because the Chern-Simons interaction provides an alternative to the Higgs mechanism. Since then I have also worked on models of weak and strong interactions. As exciting as it is to be able to work on such a variety of topics, it is intriguing that ordinary matter as we know it seems to comprise only a tiny fraction of our universe. So I am sure there are a lot of surprises awaiting us in the near future, as we attempt to unveil the nature of the Higgs and of supersymmetry, if it's there, and of dark matter and maybe even of dark energy.

last modified 5/23/2003   email Fermilab