Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2015
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Food trucks at Fermilab - Oct. 15

Yoga Mondays registration due Oct. 19

Yoga Mondays registration due Oct. 19

Zumba Toning registration due today

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

Zumba Fitness registration due Oct. 15

Special dancing workshop Oct. 15, English country dancing Kuhn Barn Oct. 25

Women's Initiative presents powerful speaker - Oct. 19

Concert of Sator Duo at Kuhn Village Barn - Oct. 21

Mac OS X Mountain Lion (10.8) end of life - Dec. 14

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

Scheduling a meeting with the Visa Office

FY 2017 diversity visa lottery registration open

Indoor soccer

Scottish country dancing Tuesdays evenings at Kuhn Barn

International folk dancing Thursday evenings at Kuhn Barn

Norris Recreation Center employee discount


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Raise and release: docent devoted to monarchs

A monarch caterpillar navigates swamp milkweed. Photo: Vicki Williams

A monarch butterfly crawls onto Vicki Williams' finger, its legs gently pinching her skin. It sits for a minute and then takes off, fluttering orange wings threaded with black. During the summer, Williams, a docent at Fermilab, raises monarch eggs and caterpillars. She releases them after they metamorphose into butterflies.

"You just feel kind of immersed in nature for a few minutes," Williams said about the release. "And in the moment, because you have to be careful. They're fresh. They're brand new to the world again."

This year, Williams brought some monarchs from home to share with students visiting the Lederman Science Center. Sue Sheehan, education program leader, says that Williams' monarchs thrilled the children, and even the adults.

"We had a visitor the other day who exclaimed, 'Oh my gosh, this is so cool! I've never seen one!'" Sheehan said. "Everybody gets excited about it."

Monarchs, the state insect of Illinois, visit Fermilab and surrounding areas from about May until late September. When they leave in the fall, they fly south to overwintering sites in Mexico, one leg of a relay-esque, multigenerational migration.

The number of monarchs at overwintering sites has plummeted in recent years. Tom Peterson, engineer and amateur lepidopterist, says the decline in monarchs is likely due to multiple factors.

"One of them is probably that there is less milkweed around for them to feed on as caterpillars," he said. Milkweed is often eradicated from roadsides and crop fields, but it's the only thing a monarch caterpillar eats.

To address monarchs' decline, some people plant milkweed at home. Williams offers monarchs something extra by rearing them inside: Protection.

"I think they might have a little bit better chance of survival because they're not prey to the elements, they're not prey to predators," Williams said.

Williams collects monarch eggs and caterpillars from milkweed in her garden. Usually, she houses them in cages made of mesh and plastic. This year she had so many she had to keep them in a baking dish covered with perforated plastic wrap. She cleans their space and feeds them fresh milkweed every day.

"I'll do it again every year until I can't," Williams said. She hopes that giving people an up-close look at her monarchs will nurture their connection to nature.

Chris Patrick

In the News

Einstein's gravitational waves remain elusive

From Cosmos, Oct. 5, 2015

The cosmic do-si-do of two supermassive black holes spiralling towards each other is a cataclysmic dance of such intensity, it should ripple the fabric of spacetime itself — or so says Einstein's general theory of relativity. One hundred years have passed since Einstein first proposed the existence of gravitational waves, but they are yet to be detected directly.

Astronomers in Australia have spent the past decade conducting the most thorough search yet for gravitational waves released when supermassive black holes circle each other, using the Parkes radio telescope in New South Wales. But as the researchers reported in Science in September, they could find no trace of them.

Could Einstein be wrong? Or have we misunderstood black holes?

Read more

From symmetry

The burgeoning field of neutrino astronomy

A new breed of experiments seeks sources of cosmic rays and other astrophysics phenomena. Photo: Patrick Cullis, NSF

Ghostlike subatomic particles called neutrinos could hold clues to some of the greatest scientific questions about our universe: What extragalactic events create ultrahigh-energy cosmic rays? What happened in the first seconds following the big bang? What is dark matter made of?

Scientists are asking these questions in a new and fast-developing field called neutrino astronomy, says JoAnne Hewett, director of Elementary Particle Physics at SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory.

"When I was a graduate student I never thought we'd be thinking about neutrino astronomy," she says. "Now not only are we thinking about it, we're already doing it. At some point it will be a standard technique."

Neutrinos, the most abundant massive particles in the universe, are produced in a multitude of different processes. The new neutrino astronomers go after several types of neutrinos: ultrahigh-energy neutrinos and neutrinos from supernovae, which they can already detect, and low-energy ones they have only measured indirectly so far.

"Every time we look for these astrophysical neutrinos, we're hoping to learn two things," says AndrĂ© de GouvĂȘa, a theoretical physicist at Northwestern University: what high-energy neutrinos can tell us about the processes that produced them, and what low-energy neutrinos can tell us about the conditions of the early universe.

Read more

Glenn Roberts Jr.

In Brief

Joint Mechanical Support and Target Systems Department picnic at Kuhn Barn

The Mechanical Support and Target Systems Department staff made sure that recently retired Jim Wilson was represented in their picnic photo. Look closely to find his likeness. Photo: Mike McGee, AD

More than 100 Fermilab employees and family members gathered at Kuhn Barn for the Mechanical Support and Target Systems Department picnic on Oct. 8. Attendees ate, drank and played catch with a football.

Photos of the Day

Hawk perches

nature, bird, hawk
A hawk views the Fermilab site from a lamppost ... Photo: Bridget Scerini, TD
nature, bird, hawk
... from a wooden beam near the Fermilab gardens ... Photo: Barb Kristen, PPD
nature, bird, hawk
... and from a barbwire fencepost. Photo: Bridget Scerini, TD