Friday, Nov. 9, 2012

Have a safe day!

Friday, Nov. 9

3:30 p.m.

4 p.m.
Joint Experimental-Theoretical Physics Seminar - One West
Speaker: Kenichi Hatakeyama, Baylor University
Title: Physics with the Upgraded CMS Detector

Monday, Nov. 12

2:30 p.m.
Particle Astrophysics Seminar (NOTE LOCATION) - Curia II
Speaker: Tim Linden, University of California, Santa Cruz
Title: Understanding High-Energy Gamma-Ray Emission from the Galactic Center

3:30 p.m.


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Wilson Hall Cafe

Friday, Nov. 9

- Breakfast: French bistro breakfast
- New England clam chowder
- Becks-battered fish sandwich
- Tortellini Alfredo
- Smart cuisine: herb and lemon fish
- Cuban panini
- Assorted pizza by the slice
- Chili cheese nacho platter

Wilson Hall Cafe Menu
Chez Leon

Friday, Nov. 9

Wednesday, Nov. 14
- Grilled flank steak
- Sautéed spinach with lemon
- Orzo with pine nuts and parmesan
- Chocolate pecan tart

Chez Leon Menu
Call x3524 to make your reservation.


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Don Lincoln receives Director's Award for volunteer service

Fermilab scientist Don Lincoln is the recipient of this year's Director's Award for his contributions to science education. Photo: Reidar Hahn

Don Lincoln is a familiar name around Fermilab. His byline frequently appears after Fermilab Today articles. He's given numerous public talks at the laboratory. And every time he's asked to address a student group, whether they're undergraduates visiting the laboratory or kindergartners in their classrooms, he happily obliges.

On Oct. 25 Fermilab Director Pier Oddone presented Lincoln with the Director's Award, given annually to an employee, user, graduate student, retiree or guest scientist who contributed significantly to Fermilab's K-12 education programs.

"He's a terrific volunteer," said Marge Bardeen, head of the Education Office. "It's obviously something he's deeply interested in, and he works from a sense of responsibility to communicate with different audiences about the science we do."

That sense of responsibility stems from a sense of appreciation. Lincoln grew up in a blue-collar world in which a college education was a foreign concept. Although he had supportive parents, at an early age he began to have questions they could no longer answer. To satisfy his curiosity, he turned to science popularizers such as George Gamow and Carl Sagan. Their writings not only drew him into the worlds of particle physics and cosmology, they inspired him to create his own place in the world of popular science.

"I do this because somewhere out there, there's a kid in exactly the same situation I was in," he said. "Just this summer, a student came to me and said, I'm in particle physics because of your book."

Over the years, his reach has grown. He's written three books, several magazine articles and blog posts for PBS's NOVA. His videos on Fermilab's YouTube channel are among the laboratory's most popular.

"I use these videos when giving talks to the public and in Washington," Fermilab Director Pier Oddone said. "Volunteers for science education have an effect well beyond the classroom."

Four other nominees received certificates for this year's Director's Award: Todd Johnson, AD; Terry Kiper, PPD; Jim Zagel, AD; and Jerry Zimmerman, PPD.

"While I am very excited by Fermilab's research program and lucky to be a part of it, I think it is incredibly important to share with the public what we've discovered." Lincoln said. "Why should we scientists have all the fun?"

The annual award is made possible by an anonymous donor to Fermilab Friends for Science Education, a not-for-profit organization supporting science education programs at Fermilab.

Leah Hesla


Dark Energy Camera dedication today in Chile

The Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory, situated on a mountaintop in Chile, houses the Dark Energy Camera. Photo courtesy of NOAO/AURA/NSF

Today scientists from around the world are gathering on a mountaintop in Chile to celebrate the completion of the most advanced sky-mapping digital camera ever built.

The day-long festivities and presentations at the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory serve as the official dedication of the Dark Energy Camera. Built at Fermilab and mounted on the 4-meter Blanco telescope at CTIO, the 570-megapixel camera is able to see light from stars up to 8 billion light-years away.

The camera is in its commissioning phase now. Next month, it's expected to start taking data for the Dark Energy Survey, which will map one-eighth of the southern sky in unprecedented detail. The survey, a collaboration of scientists at 29 institutions in seven countries, will attempt to answer one of the great mysteries of the cosmos: why the expansion of the universe is speeding up, rather than slowing down due to gravity.

The dedication event also serves as the kickoff of CTIO's 50th anniversary celebration. The observatory was founded on Nov. 23, 1962, and the Blanco telescope—at the time the largest in the southern hemisphere—was installed in September 1974 and first used by astronomers in 1976. Now more than 10 telescopes share the CTIO site.

Fermilab astrophysicists Josh Frieman, director of the Dark Energy Survey, and Brenna Flaugher will join CTIO Director Nicole van der Bliek, National Optical Astronomy Observatory Director David Silva and physicists from the collaboration in speaking at the dedication ceremony.

Andre Salles

CMS Result

Subatomic signatures

Charged particles passing through a detector leave behind tracks laden with information in their lengths, trajectories, curvatures and thicknesses. Image source

When the idea of quarks was first introduced in the 1960s, one of its stranger aspects was that quark charges must be one-third and two-thirds that of an electron. Up to that point, all known particles had −2, −1, 0, +1 or +2 times as much electric charge as the electron, a pattern that suggests that charge is quantized (only integer multiples are allowed). Quarks, which never appear alone, tell us that the basic unit is three times smaller. But solitary particles with such small charges have never been observed.

A solitary quark, if it could float through space on its own, would be a fractionally charged particle. The reason we have never seen lone quarks is now known: Quarks are bound together by a force so strong that any attempt to separate them simply creates more quarks. However, there is no obvious link between the fractional charge of the quarks and the strong force holding them together. In principle, there could be other particles with fractional charges and no strong force.

Physicists have been searching for free-floating, fractionally charged particles for decades. These particles, if they exist, might have eluded discovery by being too massive to be created in previous accelerators. Thus CMS scientists analyzed LHC data to see if its much higher energy is capable of producing heavy particles with fractional charge.

This analysis uses a very different technique from most studies at particle colliders. Usually, physicists measure the lifetime and energy of particles from the lengths, trajectories and curvatures of the tracks they leave behind as they swoop through the detector. To determine the strength of a particle's charge, however, one must use the thickness as well, the boldness of the signature's stroke.

In a bubble chamber like the ones used to look for free quarks in the 1960s, a fractionally charged particle would have produced fewer bubbles along its path in the fluid, drawing a weaker line. In a modern experiment like CMS, a fractionally charged particle would produce smaller electric signals as it passes through strips of silicon. CMS scientists had to find voltage blips nine times weaker than those from other particles.

After a thorough search, the analyzers have concluded that, if free-floating, fractionally charged particles exist, their masses must be greater than a quarter of a TeV—heavier than the heaviest known particle—to avoid being created by the LHC.

—Jim Pivarski

The U.S. physicists pictured above contributed greatly to the search for fractionally charged particles.
Future detectors will identify charged particle tracks by their signals in synthetic diamond, rather than silicon. The Rutgers University physicists pictured above developed the CMS Beam Conditions Monitor, currently in use, and the CMS Pixel Luminosity Telescope, which will be installed during the upcoming shutdown. The latter will be the first diamond-based tracking device used in particle physics.
In the News

Space telescope to get software fix

From Nature, Nov. 6, 2012

Since its launch in 2008, NASA's Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope has trained its detectors on the most violent regions in the cosmos, recording some of the highest-energy photons known—γ-rays billions of times more energetic than visible light. But to astronomers' chagrin, the most revealing photons have sometimes slipped through.

Read more


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