Wednesday, May 20, 2015
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From symmetry

Looking to the heavens for neutrino masses

Scientists are using studies of the skies to solve a neutrino mystery. Image: Sandbox Studio

Neutrinos may be the lightest of all the particles with mass, weighing in at a tiny fraction of the mass of an electron. And yet, because they are so abundant, they played a significant role in the evolution and growth of the biggest things in the universe: galaxy clusters, made up of hundreds or thousands of galaxies bound together by mutual gravity.

Thanks to this deep connection, scientists are using these giants to study the tiny particles that helped form them. In doing so, they may find out more about the fundamental forces that govern the universe.

Curiously light
When neutrinos were first discovered, scientists didn't know right away if they had any mass. They thought they might be like photons, which carry energy but are intrinsically weightless.

But then they discovered that neutrinos came in three different types and that they can switch from one type to another, something only particles with mass could do.

Scientists know that the masses of neutrinos are extremely light, so light that they wonder whether they come from a source other than the Higgs field, which gives mass to the other fundamental particles we know. But scientists have yet to pin down the exact size of these masses.

It's hard to measure the mass of such a tiny particle with precision.

In fact, it's hard to measure anything about neutrinos. They are electrically neutral, so they are immune to the effects of magnetic fields and related methods physicists use to detect particles. They barely interact with other particles at all: Only a more-or-less direct hit with an atomic nucleus can stop a neutrino, and that doesn't happen often.

More than a trillion neutrinos pass through your body each second from the sun alone, and almost none of those end up striking any of your atoms. Even the densest matter is nearly transparent to neutrinos. However, by creating beams of neutrinos and by building large, sensitive targets to catch neutrinos from nuclear reactors and the sun, scientists have been able to detect a small portion of the particles as they pass through.

Read more

Matthew R. Francis

In Brief

Acclaimed scientist and activist Temple Grandin takes tour of Fermilab

Temple Grandin, right, toured Fermilab on Friday, May 15, and had lunch with the Women's Initiative. From left: Yun He, TD; Christine Ader, AD; Lucy Nobrega, AD; Temple Grandin. Photo: Michael McGee, AD

Professor, best-selling author and sought-after speaker Temple Grandin gave two sold-out talks at Fermilab as part of the Fermilab Arts and Lecture Series. She toured Fermilab during her visit on Friday, May 15. She also had lunch with the Fermilab Women's Initiative.

On the tour, Grandin visited the Linac, Main Control Room, MI-8, the Muon g-2 storage magnet, MINOS, NML, the Village machine shop and the Mechanical Support Drafting Department in the Accelerator Division.

As someone who has always been attracted to mechanical components and drawings, Grandin sat down with Fermilab drafter Eric Pirtle, who showed her 3-D drawings of an accelerator tunnel.

Grandin herself learned to draft by sitting down with a drafter and memorizing drafting steps. She then drafted and designed equipment to handle cattle. Her design of a cattle track restrainer system is now used for half the cattle in North America.

In Brief

On-site volunteer cleanup - Thursday at lunchtime

Help keep Fermilab's site clean. Join the Third Thursday Lunchtime Cleanup crew to clean areas of the site on Thursday, May 21, beginning at 11:45 a.m. Lunch and refreshments, provided by Abri Credit Union, will be served at about 12:45 p.m. Cleanup gear will be provided.

If you plan to volunteer, please RSVP today to Jeannette Olah via email or at x3303. You may also contact her with questions.

Volunteers should plan to meet at the east ground-floor entrance of Wilson Hall at 11:45 a.m. sharp for transportation to the cleanup site.

In the News

Physics paper sets record with more than 5,000 authors

From Nature, May 15, 2015

A physics paper with 5,154 authors has — as far as anyone knows — broken the record for the largest number of contributors to a single research article.

Only the first nine pages in the 33-page article, published on 14 May in Physical Review Letters, describe the research itself — including references. The other 24 pages list the authors and their institutions.

The article is the first joint paper from the two teams that operate ATLAS and CMS, two massive detectors at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN, Europe's particle-physics lab near Geneva, Switzerland. Each team is a sprawling collaboration involving researchers from dozens of institutions and countries.

Read more

From the Illinois Accelerator Research Center

Exciting times for IARC

Bob Kephart

Bob Kephart, director of the Illinois Accelerator Research Center, wrote this column.

A blur of activity surrounding IARC has occurred since my last article in December. These are indeed exciting times!

With steady progress being made on the IARC physical plant and the monumental task of removing old CDF experimental equipment behind us, the Accelerator Division has taken over as landlord of the new complex. FESS' refurbishment of the former CDF Heavy Assembly Building for its new role within IARC is in full swing. The high bay space will be available for first projects by the end of the summer, and the HAB office-technical block is slated for completion in 2016.

This month represents a major milestone as the first new occupants move into the state-funded IARC office building. The IARC and Office of Partnerships and Technology Transfer (OPTT) teams are moving in, even as you read this article. We will serve as pathfinders, followed shortly by the PIP-II Project Office in June. We are even more excited to welcome our first university and industry partners in the fall.

For the past several months, the IARC team has been discussing partnership opportunities with groups that are less familiar to Fermilab. In collaboration with industry and several other laboratories, we submitted a number of concept papers in response to the 2015 ARPA-E open funding announcement in February, underlining the interest of industry in partnering with us on new energy solutions leveraging accelerator technology. We learned last week that one of these concepts has been selected to proceed to a full proposal, the first and most difficult hurdle on the way to new resources! The 2015 round of SBIRs was equally exciting: Fermilab wrote a record 34 support letters for new Phase I proposals and learned that four of seven Phase II proposals we supported received awards.

In late April, together with Argonne, Fermilab hosted the Midwest outreach meeting for the DOE Accelerator Stewardship Test Facility Pilot Program (ASTFPP). This event attracted 100 attendees, with 30 from industry, 10 from universities, and numerous others from Chicago and Illinois innovation organizations. The 2015 ASTFPP will fund lab-university-industry partnerships that leverage the unique accelerator capabilities and accelerator infrastructure at the national labs. We are already working with industrial partners to create proposals with the goal of securing our participation in ASTFPP by the end of this fiscal year. This event was immediately followed by Illinois Innovation Day in Springfield, then the International Particle Accelerator Conference in Richmond, Virginia. Next month we attend the National Innovation Summit where we will meet a wide variety of potential partners for Fermilab's accelerator expertise.

We have also been busy reaching out to new agencies and departments within the federal government. Our outreach efforts have sparked the interest of a wide range of agencies and programs, including the Department of Homeland Security, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Federal Highways Administration, DOE Fossil Energy, DOE Environmental Management and DOE Advanced Manufacturing.

While securing resources for these new initiatives is important, it is not enough. Achieving success at IARC requires a whole new way of doing business. Industry partners expect highly agile business processes, superior protection of potentially valuable intellectual property and excellence in project execution to meet the demands of a dynamic commercial market. That is why we have been working closely with OPTT, Finance and the Office of General Counsel to establish the business systems that will meet industry expectations.

I closed my last article reminding us all of the fundamental question about IARC: "If we build it, will they come?" The IARC program will be more a campaign than a project. It will take time, but more and more it looks like the answer is yes!

Photos of the Day

Before the storm

Clouds loom large over Feynman Computing Center ... Photo: John Galvan, OCIO
... and over Wilson Hall before a storm breaks on May 8. Photo: Sudeshna Ganguly, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Albert Dyer captured this sublime, prestorm scene from the north of Wilson Hall on May 8. Photo: Albert Dyer, PPD
Safety Update

ESH&Q weekly report, May 19

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

An employee noticed bumps on his arm while at work. He received first-aid treatment.

See the full report.