Monday, April 13, 2015
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Budker Seminar - today

Glacier tax prep access codes available until April 15

Nominations for Employee Advisory Group due April 17

Discounted tickets for Creation's Birthday by Hasan Padamsee - through April 19

MS Excel 2013: Introduction offered two half days - April 28 and 30

2014 FSA deadline is April 30

MS Word 2013: Introduction offered two half days - May 5 and 7

Managing Conflict (a.m. only) on June 10

Performance review training for managers and supervisors - Aug. 4, 5 and 6

Mac OS X security patches

Fermilab Board Game Guild

Players needed for 2015 Fermilab co-ed softball league

Indoor soccer

International folk dancing Thursday evenings at Kuhn Barn


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Student art show inspired by particle physics in Fermilab Art Gallery until April 22

This sculpture by Brandon Shimkus from Marmion Academy is one of the works you can see in the "Imagining Physics" exhibit in the Fermilab Art Gallery. Photo: Anne Mary Teichert, WDRS

An exhibit of art by local high school students, titled "Imagining Physics," joins the current Art@CMS show in the Fermilab Art Gallery today. It will run through April 22.

"Imagining Physics" challenged 18 high school art students to learn about the world of particle physics and convert their impressions into art. Funding from Science&Art@School, an educational branch of Art@CMS, freed the students to choose whichever materials allowed them to capture their ideas.

Over the course of two weeks in February, students worked collaboratively with each other, with their teachers and with professional artists from Water Street Studios in Batavia to create pieces inspired by particle physics.

They started with a day of "physics bootcamp" at Fermilab, during which they heard talks by Fermilab physicists and staff and learned about the Art@CMS exhibit from Michael Hoch, the CMS scientist behind the outreach program. Then the students met four times in the classrooms at Water Street Studios to hash out their ideas and complete their artwork.

The final pieces embrace both physics and the connections the students found with themes in their own lives.

The participants wish to thank physicist Michael Hoch and the CMS collaboration; scientists and staff at Fermilab; artists and staff at Water Street Studios; and the art teachers at Batavia High School, Burlington Central High School, Geneva High School and Marmion Academy who assisted in selecting and mentoring students for the program.

Anne Mary Teichert, WDRS

In Brief

SPOT Award program for employee recognition

The Fermilab SPOT Award program is available for all employees to nominate a team member or peer for his or her positive contributions to the lab. After a brief review by the HR partner and supervisor (if nominated by a peer), a $25 Target gift card and SPOT Award pin are issued "on the spot." Please note that the gift cards are taxable.

Contact your HR partner with questions.

Photo of the Day

At prairie's edge

Wilson Hall and the Feynman Computing Center are visible in the distance. Photo: Steve Krave, TD
In the News

South Dakota begins to reap benefits of underground lab

From Physics Today, April 2015

A decade ago South Dakota was "53 out of 53 in terms of NSF dollars" among US states and territories, says Mike Rounds, the former governor who in January was sworn in to the US Senate (R-SD). "If you are not a leader in research and technology, you have missed the boat," he says. That conviction is what drove the state's dogged support for turning the defunct Homestake Gold Mine in Lead into an underground laboratory. Now come the payoffs, including the lab itself, the state's 23 new PhD programs in science and engineering, and a $5 million visitors' center slated to open in June.

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Tip of the Week:
Ecology and Environment

Rx for good prairie health? Fire!

Prairie burns, such as this one conducted earlier this month at the Main Ring, help restore and maintain prairie ecosystems in numerous ways. Photo: Jacques Hooymans, FESS

If you have had a chance to check out the burned-over prairie inside the Main Ring over the last week or so, you've noticed that the charred remains are slowly being overtaken by a green carpet of new growth. This is entirely expected, of course — it happens just this way every year — but it's always somewhat amazing to see how quickly ecosystems respond to insult!

This year, FESS Roads and Grounds crews burned nearly 700 acres of prairie. It's reasonable to ask the question, "Why?"

If it looks like the main effect of fire in the prairie is destruction — it is. At least the immediate direct effect of prescribed burning is mortality. But the mortality is directed at woody vegetation and nonprairie plant species that aren't natural parts of a functional prairie. This frees up "niche space" for prairie plants, which are more resistant to fire.

Of course, there is what might be called collateral damage associated with a prairie burn. Some small mammals and insects are vulnerable, but a surprising number of mammals find pockets of protection or simply manage to get through the flames to safety. Studies indicate that as many as 75 percent of voles (small mouse-like rodents) survive fires. While insects may perish in large numbers, a small percentage survive, and research has shown that the high reproductive potential of insects allows them to return to pre-burn numbers within a year. Ground-nesting bird eggs may be at risk, but the Fermilab Grounds crews prohibit burning during nesting seasons to protect them.

In addition to directly eliminating competition for prairie plants, there are several indirect effects of burning that assist in restoring and maintaining prairie ecosystems. The destructive impact of fire changes the microclimate dramatically, making more sunlight available for plants. Most prairie plants actually have a slightly different metabolic pathway that uses intense sunlight and dry conditions much more efficiently, giving them a significant leg up on the competition from nonprairie plants.

As young prairie plants grow after a fire, they find themselves in an open environment where air circulation is good and sunlight plentiful, warming the soil and providing energy for photosynthesis. This combination keeps leaf temperatures at near-optimal levels while still taking advantage of the ample light. The post-fire surface is also much more conducive to transporting rainfall to the soil, helping to transfer nutrients deep underground for plant roots to use, as well as facilitating mineralization of organic matter so plants can absorb and use it.

Using prescribed burning to manage prairies is an accepted and effective ecological tool for land stewards. Of course, like any tool, it must be used thoughtfully and safely. While there are some negative effects of prescribed burning, the result is overwhelmingly positive, cost-effective and closely mimics natural, pre-settlement processes.

Rod Walton

In the News

For ultracold neutrino experiment, a successful demonstration

From, April 9, 2015

Today an international team of nuclear physicists announced the first scientific results from the Cryogenic Underground Observatory for Rare Events (CUORE) experiment. CUORE, located at the INFN Gran Sasso National Laboratories in Italy, is designed to confirm the existence of the Majorana neutrino, which scientists believe could hold the key to why there is an abundance of matter over antimatter. Or put another way: why we exist in this universe.

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