Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Have a safe day!

Wednesday, July 30

10:30 a.m.
Particle Astrophysics Seminar (NOTE DATE, TIME, LOCATION) - One East
Speaker: Meg Urry, Yale University
Title: The Growth of Supermassive Black Holes and Their Co-Evolution with Galaxies

3:30 p.m.

4 p.m.
Fermilab Colloquium - One West
Speaker: Meg Urry, Yale University
Title: Women in Physics and Astronomy - Why So Few? And How to Get to Parity

Thursday, July 31

Undergraduate Lecture Series (NOTE LOCATION) - Auditorium
Speaker: Jin-Yuan Wu, Fermilab
Title: Rotations: The Moon, MRI, g-2

2:30 p.m.
Theoretical Physics Seminar - Curia II
Speaker: Chris Verhaaren, University of Maryland
Title: Dynamics of a Stabilized Radion and Duality

3:30 p.m.

Click here for NALCAL,
a weekly calendar with links to additional information.

Ongoing and upcoming conferences at Fermilab


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Wilson Hall Cafe

Wednesday, July 30

- Breakfast: crustless quiche casserole
- Breakfast: ham, egg and cheese English muffin
- Steak soft tacos
- Smart cuisine: spinach and jack cheese enchiladas
- Chicken parmesan
- Zesty turkey pastrami sandwich
- Mandarin orange pecan chicken salad
- Cuban black bean soup
- Texas-style chili
- Assorted calzones

Wilson Hall Cafe menu

Chez Leon

Wednesday, July 30
- Honey ginger grilled salmon
- Coconut rice
- Roasted broccoli
- Tropical cake

Friday, Aug. 1

Chez Leon menu
Call x3524 to make your reservation.


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Accelerator physicist invents new way to clean up oil spills

Fermilab physicist Arden Warner revolutionizes oil spill cleanup with magnetizable-oil invention. Photo: Hanae Armitage

Four years ago, Fermilab accelerator physicist Arden Warner watched national news of the BP oil spill and found himself frustrated with the cleanup response.

"My wife asked 'Can you separate oil from water?' and I said 'Maybe I could magnetize it!'" Warner recalled. "But that was just something I said. Later that night while I was falling asleep, I thought, you know what, that's not a bad idea."

Sleep forgone, Warner began experimenting in his garage. With shavings from his shovel, a splash of engine oil and a refrigerator magnet, Warner witnessed the preliminary success of a concept that could revolutionize the process of oil spill damage control.

Warner has received patent approval on the cleanup method.

The concept is simple: Take iron particles or magnetite dust and add them to oil. It turns out that these particles mix well with oil and form a loose colloidal suspension that floats in water. Mixed with the filings, the suspension is susceptible to magnetic forces. At a barely discernible 2 to 6 microns in size, the particles tend to clump together, and it only takes a sparse dusting for them to bond with the oil. When a magnetic field is applied to the oil and filings, they congeal into a viscous liquid known as a magnetorheological fluid. The fluid's viscosity allows a magnetic field to pool both filings and oil to a single location, making them easy to remove. (View a 30-second video of the reaction.)

"It doesn't take long — you add the filings, you pull them out. The entire process is even more efficient with hydrophobic filings. As soon as they hit the oil, they sink in," said Warner, who works in the Accelerator Division. Hydrophobic filings are those that don't like to interact with water — think of hydrophobic as water-fearing. "You could essentially have a device that disperses filings and a magnetic conveyor system behind it that picks it up. You don't need a lot of material."

Warner tested more than 100 oils, including sweet crude and heavy crude. As it turns out, the crude oils' natural viscosity makes it fairly easy to magnetize and clear away. Currently, booms, floating devices that corral oil spills, are at best capable of containing the spill; oil removal is an entirely different process. But the iron filings can work in conjunction with an electromagnetic boom to allow tighter constriction and removal of the oil. Using solenoids, metal coils that carry an electrical current, the electromagnetic booms can steer the oil-filing mixture into collector tanks.

Unlike other oil cleanup methods, the magnetized oil technique is far more environmentally sound. There are no harmful chemicals introduced into the ocean — magnetite is a naturally occurring mineral. The filings are added and, briefly after, extracted. While there are some straggling iron particles, the vast majority is removed in one fell, magnetized swoop — the filings can even be dried and reused.

"This technique is more environmentally benign because it's natural; we're not adding soaps and chemicals to the ocean," said Cherri Schmidt, head of Fermilab's Office of Partnerships and Technology Transfer. "Other 'cleanup' techniques disperse the oil and make the droplets smaller or make the oil sink to the bottom. This doesn't do that."

Warner's ideas for potential applications also include wildlife cleanup and the use of chemical sensors. Small devices that "smell" high and low concentrations of oil could be fastened to a motorized electromagnetic boom to direct it to the most oil-contaminated areas.

"I get crazy ideas all the time, but every so often one sticks," Warner said. "This is one that I think could stick for the benefit of the environment and Fermilab."

Hanae Armitage

Editor's note: Fermilab Today published a clarification on the scope of Arden Warner's patent in its Aug. 29, 2014, issue.

In Brief

Science Next Door August newsletter now online


The August edition of "Science Next Door," Fermilab's monthly community newsletter, is now available online. View it or subscribe to get the latest about the laboratory's public events, including tours, lectures, arts events and volunteer opportunities.

In the News

Senate FY 2015 DOE Office of Science Appropriations Bill

From FYI: The AIP Bulletin of Science Policy News, July 29, 2014

Senate appropriators have released their draft committee report accompanying the FY 2015 Energy and Water Development Appropriations Bill. This bill was scheduled for action by the full Senate Appropriations Committee in mid-June, but was pulled from consideration because of concerns about an expected amendment to the bill to restrict EPA's ability to regulate carbon emissions from existing power plants. No new date has been scheduled.

Read more

In the News

Extremely energetic cosmic rays from a preferred direction

From Physics Today, July 2014

Earth is continuously bombarded by cosmic rays — high-energy protons or nuclei — that come from beyond our galaxy. The energy spectrum falls rapidly at the so-called Greisen-Zatsepin-Kuzmin (GZK) cutoff of about 6 × 1019 eV, but cosmic rays have been observed with energies up to 3 × 1020 eV. Astrophysicists have long sought to determine what accelerates particles to such extraordinary energies. Possibilities include supernovae and relativistic jets from active galactic nuclei. Now the Telescope Array experiment has provided an enticing clue by identifying a "hotspot" in the northern sky that sends a disproportionate amount of ultrahigh-energy cosmic rays (UHECRs) our way.

Read more

From symmetry

Partnership generates bright ideas for photon science

Photon science, a spinoff of particle physics, has returned to its roots for help developing better, faster detectors. Photo courtesy of SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory

In late 1940s, scientists doing fundamental physics research at the General Electric Research Laboratory in Schenectady, New York, noticed a bright arc of light coming from their particle accelerator. As a beam of electrons whipped around the accelerator's circular track, photons trickled away like water from a punctured hose.

At the time, this was considered a problem; the leaking photons were sapping energy from the electron beam. But scientists at labs around the world were already looking into the phenomenon, and not long after, circular particle accelerators were being built explicitly to capture the escaping light.

Today, these instruments are called synchrotrons, and they serve as powerful tools for studying the atomic and molecular structure of a seemingly limitless number of materials.

Despite their symbiotic beginning, synchrotron science and particle physics existed largely independent of one another. However, recent developments in the design and construction of particle detectors for synchrotron experiments—as well as new light source instruments—have sparked a reunion.

Read more

Calla Cofield

In Brief

Meet with Pace on train station shuttles - Friday in Curia II

On Friday, Aug. 1, at noon in Curia II, the Sustainability Committee and Chris Rose and Michael Groh, representatives from local public transportation agency Pace, will host a question-and-answer session on a new Call-n-Ride program expected to begin in October at Fermilab. Those interested in ridesharing are invited to attend.

Friday's meeting is a result of the lab's interest in greener commuting. In April, Fermilab's Sustainability Committee distributed a survey to determine employee and user interest in commuting by train and in taking a shuttle from a nearby train station to the laboratory. In the intervening months, members of the Sustainability Committee have worked with Pace to incorporate Fermilab in its daily route.

Of the 413 individuals who took the survey, 59 percent said they would take a free or low-cost shuttle between the laboratory and the Geneva train station on the Union-Pacific West line. 176 people answered yes or maybe to the question, "If this service was provided by a Pace bus service for a fee, would you use it?"

If you are interested to hear what Pace has to say, plan to attend Friday's meeting. We look forward to seeing you there.


In memoriam: Nancy Carrigan

Fermilab volunteer and a NALWO founding member Nancy Carrigan passed away on July 18 at the age of 81.

As an early founding member of NALWO, Carrigan brought many people together and helped them adjust to the lab and their new settings, introducing them to the larger Chicago and suburbs' many cultural offerings.

She was also an important part of the early establishment of the Arts and Auditorium Committee and served as its chair for several years. Her value to the Fermilab community was further demonstrated when the Wilson family chose her to give the speech at the burial of Jane Wilson at the Pioneer Cemetery beside her husband Robert Wilson, Fermilab's founding director.

Carrigan's memorial service, followed by a buffet, will take place at Immanuel Presbyterian Church, 29W260 Batavia Rd., Warrenville, on Saturday, Aug. 2 at 4 p.m. There will be an opportunity to view Carrigan's artwork at the senior Carrigan home at 2S526 Williams Rd., Warrenville.

Read Carrigan's obituary.

Photo of the Day

Dotted with yellow

Wildflowers spring from near edge of the cooling pond opposite the AZero parking lot. Photo: Elliott McCrory, AD
Safety Update

ESH&Q weekly report, July 29

This week's safety report, compiled by the Fermilab ESH&Q Section, contains two incidents.

An employee tripped over some fencing lying on the ground and heard a snap in his foot. He was sent off site for X-rays.

An employee developed blisters, which developed into ulcers, after wearing steel-toe shoes for three or four days. He was sent off site for treatment.

Find the full report here.


Fermilab prairie plant survey - Aug. 9

Deadline for the UChicago tuition remission program - Aug. 18

Call for applications: URA Visiting Scholars Program - apply by Aug. 25

Yoga registration

Fermilab Tango Club

Scottish country dancing Tuesday evenings in Ramsey Auditorium

International folk dancing Thursday evenings in Ramsey Auditorium

English country dancing at Kuhn Barn

Outdoor soccer

Fermi Days at Six Flags Great America