Monday, Sept. 28, 2015
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FSPA officer elections

Siemens Mobile Showcase is coming to Fermilab - Sept. 29

NALWO evening social - Oct. 7

Process Piping Design; Process Piping, Material, Fabrication, Examination, Testing - Oct. 13, 14, 15, 16

Python Programming Basics - Oct. 14, 15, 16

Interpersonal Communication Skills - Oct. 20

Access 2013: Level 2 / Intermediate - Oct. 21

Excel 2013: Level 2 / Intermediate - Oct. 22

Managing Conflict (morning only) - Nov. 4

PowerPoint 2013: Introduction / Intermediate - Nov. 18

Python Programming Advanced - Dec. 9, 10, 11

OS X El Capitan (10.11) not yet certified for Fermilab use

Professional and Organization Development 2015-16 fall/winter course schedule

Norris Recreation Center employee discount

Outdoor soccer


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Accelerator technology could be a driving force in road improvements

Fermilab scientists and engineers have patented a technology that could prolong the lifetime of roads by treating them with electron beams. In this conceptual drawing, four accelerators, which would emit the electron beams, sit in a mobile trailer. The truck pulling the trailer would hold a power generator for the accelerators. Image courtesy of Bob Kephart and Charlie Cooper

Potholes are an age-old lament, the bane of drivers everywhere. They lead to vehicle damage and add long minutes of desperate headbanging to morning commutes. The traffic and tax burden they cause leave drivers frustrated or angry.

Physicists and engineers at Fermilab have patented a homegrown technology that could increase the lifetime of roads and decrease roadblocks and the billions of dollars currently spent on road repair. The idea involves a new type of asphalt mix, an 18-wheeler and a particle accelerator.

"Accelerator-driven chemistry is a field that is largely untapped," said Charlie Cooper, general manager at the Illinois Accelerator Research Center at Fermilab. "It's an advanced manufacturing technique that has hardly been used, and it should allow a lot of things to happen that just haven't been done."

Currently roads are made using a hot asphalt mix of aggregate rock and bitumen. Bitumen, a crude oil byproduct, works as a binder to hold gravel together, and it makes up about three percent of the asphalt. This technology hasn't changed significantly in over 100 years despite its fractures and flaws.

"The asphalt tends to crack," said Bob Kephart, director of IARC. "Water infiltrates the surface and you get a freeze-thaw. The road breaks up, you get potholes, and this leads to a cycle of repair."

The method that Cooper and Kephart are developing would work with a new type of asphalt containing a polymer mix that can be cross-linked with an electron beam, which would improve the substance's material properties. Once the polymer-asphalt mix is applied, a truck carrying a high-power electron accelerator would drive over it, and the electron beam would pass over the surface. This would create stronger roads by increasing the toughness of the material and the range of temperature over which the method works.

Although the initial cost of installing the road would be higher than that of traditional methods — the material is more expensive, and there is the added step of driving over the roads with an electron beam — by improving the lifetime of the roads, the overall cost in the long run may go down.

"If you can increase the lifetime of road by a year, the accelerator, rig and everything is paid off very rapidly," Cooper said. "There's a huge amount of money that can be saved based just on the sheer amount of road in the United States."

Kephart and Cooper have drawn up preliminary designs of both the material and the accelerator. The accelerator, a compact 10-MeV electron accelerator, will employ at least five different new technologies. The team also plans to create a mix that meets the current criteria for roads, taking into consideration qualities such as friction and inertia. They have already found additives that increase the range of temperature over which the road surface can function without cracking when cold or creeping when hot.

Kephart said the idea of using accelerators to treat highways came to him with the realization that they can polymerize materials and can also be mobile. The application extends beyond roadways, with the potential to be used on high school tracks and tennis courts. This particular type of polymerizing accelerator technology could also be used in food, rubber and agriculture, in addition to many other areas.

"Most of technological development associated with accelerators has been driven by the desire to perform scientific measurements," Kephart said. "Those same accelerators already have a big impact on our economy, our health and much more. I'd like to see the technology we've developed here at Fermilab be applied beyond discovery science."

Ali Sundermier

Photos of the Day

Moths on the asphalt

nature, animal, insect, bug, moth, caterpillar
This banded woolly bear caterpillar will become an Isabella tiger moth. Photo: Dawn Staszak, IARC
nature, animal, insect, bug, moth
A large tolype moth rests on the sidewalk just outside MW-9. To learn more about these and other moths, visit Tom Peterson's website on the moths at Fermilab. Photo: Ken Olesen, AD
In the News

5,000 robots will 3D-map dark energy

From The Daily Beast, Sept. 23, 2015

Plans are in motion for a robot army 5,000-strong to survey the night sky in hot pursuit of dark energy.

This week the Department of Energy approved $56 million in funds for upgrades to the 40-year-old Mayall telescope at Kitt Peak National Observatory near Tucson, Arizona. The robots will operate from inside the Dark Energy Spectroscopic Instrument (DESI), a 2,000-lb gizmo that will replace the telescope's current sensors in order to learn about dark energy, a phenomenon that has until now remained well, in the dark.

Read more

Tip of the Week: Cybersecurity

Actions to avoid

Do you work at a computer? If so, here's a nice summary of actions to avoid when you're at your keyboard.

As Fermilab Today evolves, I will no longer have a regularly featured monthly column. The security team will continue to post news and helpful information about new threats and methods to protect our computing systems. But I wanted to use my last column to remind you of the kinds of actions that can and will lead to harm. Yes, you have probably heard all these before, but a short refresher won't hurt.

Intellectual property. Failing to respect intellectual property rights can get both you and the entire laboratory in trouble. Don't use unlicensed versions of commercial software. Vendors audit customers for compliance, and misuse can result in heavy penalties. Don't download copyrighted material (films, books, music). Copyright owners police download sites and can institute legal action when they detect a violation. Especially avoid BitTorrent, where any files you download are simultaneously made available to other clients. Fermilab's large network bandwidth will make your system hosting copyrighted material shine like a beacon. Violations in this area are sufficiently important that they can result in disciplinary action for employees or loss of site access for visitors.

Email. You can never trust the sender: It is trivial to forge a "from" address. Don't open email attachments unless you are certain they are meant for you. (And don't send attachments, tempting others into unsafe practices. Post documents you want reviewed on a FermiPoint site, for example.) Also, avoid clicking on links unless you are more than certain they're meant from you, especially when you're at home. The security team will block access to dangerous sites to prevent you from getting to those sites while on the lab network, but we can't protect you when you are away from the laboratory!

Web browsing. Don't try to get around the Web proxy server. It is there to protect you by preventing you from visiting known dangerous sites. Circumventing the proxy server leaves you open to malicious code. It is also a direct violation of lab policy that can lead to disciplinary action. Make sure your desktop support configures your browser to block pop-ups and other dangerous active Web content. As always, use caution in exploring new and unusual sites on the Web.

Offering services and opening ports. Every service your local machine offers to the Internet and every port you open is another opportunity for your system to be exploited. Normally only system administrators need worry about this, but easy-to-download software can often open up ports and services, so use extreme caution if you need downloads that are not part of standard installations.

Password management. By now everyone knows not to share passwords or to use simple-to-guess names or words for their personal accounts. But a distressing number of installed software applications are left with well-known manufacturer default values for passwords. This is like leaving your front door wide open with a sign reading "valuables inside." Many of the problems described above have happened to otherwise sensible individuals at the laboratory who briefly relaxed their guard. You might even recognize yourself. We all need to learn from their experiences and avoid the actions that are almost guaranteed to lead to trouble.

Irwin Gaines


Jim Wilson retires after 37 years at Fermilab

Jim Wilson

If you ask Jim Wilson about his upcoming retirement, he will actually talk about how much he has enjoyed working at Fermilab to this day. In fact, he will start to talk about all of the people he has worked with through the years.

Jim says, "One of the great things about working at the lab is working with so many types of people — different occupations, different backgrounds. You can always find someone to help you."

Jim's last day at the laboratory is Sept. 30.

Jim started in Fermilab's Village Machine Shop in 1978 as an instrument machinist. He then became the foreman of the Wilson Hall Machine Shop. For the past eight years, Jim has worked as an Accelerator Division fabrication and processing specialist. Because of his extensive knowledge of machine shops and machining practices, he is frequently called upon to advise engineers about the best way to fabricate a part. Often the discussions lead to a redesign of the device for easier machining, better and more efficient assembly, and cost savings. Jim has a wide knowledge of welding techniques, particularly electron beam welding, used in the fabrication of radio-frequency, or RF, cavities and vacuum windows for beamlines.

Jim's hobby is the restoration of antique and classic cars, including Corvettes. He is also a recognized expert on early Corvettes. He is currently building a 1956 Chevy extended-cab truck and turning it into a car hauler.

As much as Jim will miss working at Fermilab, he looks forward to his move to Tennessee with his wife. His technical expertise and friendly demeanor will be missed by his Fermilab colleagues.

Mayling Wong-Squires, AD


New employees - September

The following regular employees started at Fermilab in September:

Anadi Canepa, PPD; Amy Cottle, PPD: Benjamin Galan, TD; Zoltan Gecse, PPD; Kiel Howe, PPD; Seyda Ipek, PPD; Jacob Kintner, PPD; John Kolpin, AD; Gordan Krnjaic, PPD; Ye Li, PPD; Zhen Liu, PP; Douglas Pelletier, ND; Alan Robinson, PPD; Irene Shiu, OCIO; Aarti Veernala, PPD; Renzhuo Wang, AD.

Fermilab welcomes them to the laboratory.