Monday, Aug. 17, 2015
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Fermilab employee art show - submission deadline Sept. 1

Yoga Mondays registration due today

Nominations for Physics Slam 2015 due today

Zumba Toning registration due Aug. 18

Yoga Thursdays registration due Aug. 20

Zumba Fitness registration due Aug. 20

Call for proposals: URA Visiting Scholars Program - deadline is Aug. 31

Fermilab golf outing - Sept. 11

September AEM meeting date change to Sept. 14

Python Programming Basics is scheduled for Oct. 14-16

Python Programming Advanced - Dec. 9-11

Fermilab Prairie Plant Survey

Fermi Singers invite all visiting students and staff

Outdoor soccer

Scottish country dancing meets Tuesday evenings in Ramsey Auditorium

International folk dancing Thursday evenings in Ramsey Auditorium


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Press Release

Dark Energy Survey finds more celestial neighbors

New dwarf galaxy candidates could mean our sky is more crowded than we thought. Image: Dark Energy Survey Collaboration

Scientists on the Dark Energy Survey, using one of the world's most powerful digital cameras, have discovered eight more faint celestial objects hovering near our Milky Way galaxy. Signs indicate that they, like the objects found by the same team earlier this year, are likely dwarf satellite galaxies, the smallest and closest known form of galaxies.

Satellite galaxies are small celestial objects that orbit larger galaxies, such as our own Milky Way. Dwarf galaxies can be found with fewer than 1,000 stars, in contrast to the Milky Way, an average-size galaxy containing billions of stars. Scientists have predicted that larger galaxies are built from smaller galaxies, which are thought to be especially rich in dark matter, the substance that makes up about 25 percent of the total matter and energy in the universe. Dwarf satellite galaxies, therefore, are considered key to understanding dark matter and the process by which larger galaxies form.

The main goal of the Dark Energy Survey (DES), as its name suggests, is to better understand the nature of dark energy, the mysterious stuff that makes up about 70 percent of the matter and energy in the universe. Scientists believe that dark energy is the key to understanding why the expansion of the universe is speeding up. To carry out its dark energy mission, DES takes snapshots of hundreds of millions of distant galaxies. However, some of the DES images also contain stars in dwarf galaxies much closer to the Milky Way. The same data can therefore be used to probe both dark energy, which scientists think is driving galaxies apart, and dark matter, which is thought to hold galaxies together.

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Photo of the Day

Turtle crossing

Chicory blooms the brightest in the morning, and it surrounds this turtle crossing sign at the Main Ring Road entrance at CZero. Photo: Elliott McCrory, AD
In the News

Neutrino-mass measurements could benefit from holmium-trapping result

From Physics World, Aug. 12, 2015

Physicists in Europe have resolved a long-standing puzzle regarding the energy released when an isotope of the rare-earth element holmium decays via electron capture. They say that their extremely precise measurement of the mass difference between mother and daughter nuclides will be crucial in helping to pin down the unknown and very small mass of the neutrino. Other experts, however, insist that this measurement will not help to significantly reduce the upper limit on neutrino mass.

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Tip of the Week: Cybersecurity

One size does not fit all

One size doesn't necessarily fit all, and under certain circumstances, Fermilab cybersecurity allows use of security controls that are different from the baseline standards. Photo: jessamyn west

Sometimes it seems like the security team members are the bad guys, telling users only what they are not allowed to do. But remember, our primary objective is to enable the laboratory to continue to carry out its scientific mission without interruptions. Imagine the cost to our scientific program if we were forced to turn off our Internet connection while we repaired and recovered from damage caused by computer hackers.

An important tool in accomplishing this mission is to provide policies, procedures and guidelines for operating lab computing systems in a secure manner to avoid interruptions caused by attacks by unauthorized users.

Consequently, we have rules in place designed to provide protection, but very few of these rules are absolute. There is a wide variety of ways to protect computing systems. And while we don't want everyone to choose his or her own protection methods independently, we also do not want to arbitrarily impose a one-size-fits-all policy. Sometimes having computers behind locked doors is the best solution; sometimes active surveillance is appropriate; sometimes automated detection and countermeasures are needed; and sometimes for our most sensitive systems we may require even more stringent controls.

Thus it makes sense for us to have a formal process in place that allows individuals (or groups of users with similar concerns) to request allowance to use security controls that are different from the usual baseline standards. This process is called requesting a variance, and, of course, it has constraints. First, the variance must be fully documented and archived so we can demonstrate to external auditors which systems have been granted variances and why. Next, the requestor must demonstrate a clear scientific or business need explaining why the standard solution significantly interferes with their mission. Finally, the requestor must offer and implement a set of compensatory security controls that provide (in the judgement of the security team, who will review the request) at least that same level of security as is provided by the baseline controls.

An instance in which this process has been used in the past is the requirement to update the operating system kernel of Linux systems by regularly scheduled dates. This is important to prevent security vulnerabilities in older versions from being exploited. But for systems that were part of the CDF and DZero data acquisition systems, making the computers unavailable while updating the kernels, even for short periods of time, would interfere with data taking and compromise the scientific mission. The managers of these systems applied for and were granted a variance allowing them to defer the kernel updates for up to six months, until there was an experiment downtime. Additional security was provided by restrictions on how these systems could be accessed, keeping them inaccessible to an Internet hacker.

If you need to request a variance, you can do this by submitting a Service Now general request (there are standard Service Now forms for the most common cases). Not all requests can be granted, and in that case you will need to consider a slightly different way of accomplishing your objective. But one way or another, we will work with you to make sure the scientific mission is not impeded.

Irwin Gaines