Thursday, Oct. 22, 2015
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English country dancing Halloween party at Kuhn Barn - Oct. 25

Fermi Society of Philosophy, "The Puzzling Error of Karl Popper, Part II" - today

Yoga Thursday registration due today

NALWO Halloween party for all Fermilab families - Oct. 23

South stairwell in atrium closed through Oct. 24

English country dancing in Kuhn Barn - Oct. 25

Line dancing registration due Oct. 27

Deadline for University of Chicago Tuition Remission Program - Nov. 24

FIFE Notes newsletter now available

FY 2017 diversity visa lottery registration open

Flu immunizations still available

Fermilab Board Game Guild

Indoor soccer

Scottish country dancing Tuesdays evenings at Kuhn Barn

International folk dancing Thursday evenings at Kuhn Barn


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What happens when you kidnap a muon?

From left: Andrew Edmonds, Jose Repond, Vladimir Tishchenko, James Miller, Robert Bernstein, Anthony Palladino, Ed Hungerford and John Quirk are all members of both Mu2e and AlCap.

The search for physics beyond the Standard Model involves kidnapping. Seeking a never-before-seen phenomenon — the direct conversion of a muon into an electron — the forthcoming Mu2e experiment at Fermilab will kidnap muons and trap them in aluminum atoms. But what exactly happens when you shoot a muon at an aluminum foil?

While Mu2e is under construction, its scientists are already getting some valuable answers from a smaller accomplice: AlCap.

AlCap's name is a smashup of "aluminum capture," the kidnapping process the experiment studies. Hosted at the Paul Scherrer Institute in Switzerland, AlCap is currently measuring muon interactions in aluminum. It is a joint collaboration of members from both Mu2e and COMET, a muon experiment in Japan.

"It's fostered cooperation, and there's been some exchange of information," said Jim Miller, Mu2e co-spokesperson, AlCap collaborator and professor at Boston University.

With a relatively small crew, all AlCap members have their hands in almost every part of the experiment, creating an excellent learning environment for younger members of the team.

"We started AlCap with a really green crew. In our first run, which was in December of 2013, we had to set up the entire experiment and do it in a period of about six weeks," Miller said. "We had an eager but inexperienced group of graduate students. They'd never been in a situation like that before, but they really learned a lot in a hurry, and now they're experienced people."

One of those students, John Quirk, is writing his thesis with AlCap data. Quirk, a research assistant at Boston University, has been involved in every step of AlCap, from preparation to data analysis. So are postdoctoral research scientists Anthony Palladino, at Boston University, and Andy Edmonds, at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. All three of these early-career scientists also work on Mu2e with Miller.

In both AlCap and Mu2e, researchers shoot muons — a heavier cousin of the electron — at thin sheets of aluminum. Since a negatively charged muon is attracted to a positively charged aluminum nucleus, it will begin to orbit the aluminum nucleus as if it were an electron. AlCap shoots and stops a single muon at a time; Mu2e will stop about 10 billion muons every second.

Once it's inside an aluminum atom, a muon can do one of three things. It might decay into an electron and two neutrinos, a common, pretty well-understood process.

Or an aluminum atom's nucleus could capture the muon — nuclear capture. In nuclear capture, a muon changes one proton in the aluminum's nucleus into a neutron and produces a neutrino. AlCap is primarily investigating this process because it's a potential source of background for Mu2e.

Scientists predict that a muon could do a third thing, something that's never been seen before: convert directly into an electron without making any neutrinos. Mu2e seeks this rare event.

Read more

Chris Patrick

In Brief

Former CDF building is now Heavy Assembly Building

The building that housed the CDF detector for almost 30 years is now officially named Heavy Assembly Building, or HAB.

HAB is part of the Illinois Accelerator Research Center complex and is currently being refurbished to support the IARC mission.

In the News

Neutrino study made key priority for US nuclear physics

From Nature, Oct. 20, 2015

Two large science experiments head a wish list drawn up by US nuclear physicists for the next decade: a quest to uncover the nature of neutrinos and a particle collider to study the forces that bind quarks.

The big-ticket items, each of which would cost hundreds of millions of dollars, are among the top priorities highlighted by the Nuclear Science Advisory Committee (NSAC) on 15 October. Every 5–7 years, this panel of high-level nuclear physicists presents a long-term plan to the US Department of Energy and National Science Foundation, after consulting the US nuclear-physics community.

The agenda assumes that US funding for nuclear science will increase by 1.6 percent per year above inflation — a realistic scenario, says NSAC chair Donald Geesaman, a physicist at Argonne National Laboratory in Illinois. "We have exciting science to do, and we are not asking for large increases," he says.

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In memoriam: Angela Gonzales

Angela Gonzales

Angela Gonzales, the artist whose enduring legacy includes the design of the Fermilab logo, passed away on Tuesday. She was 80 years old.

Gonzales, Fermilab ID number 11, joined National Accelerator Laboratory in July 1967 and immediately set out to create a visual identity for the new laboratory. She shared with founding director Robert Wilson a vision of a visually striking lab, one in which bold colors, sculpture and architecture would reflect innovation and creativity.

One of her first projects was to design a logo for the laboratory. The now familiar dipole-quadrupole mark premiered in the National Accelerator Laboratory's 1968 Design Report and has remained one of the lab's most recognizable visual elements for almost half a century.

Gonzales developed the 12-color palette that would be used throughout Fermilab grounds, in printed materials and, eventually, in Web publications. NAL Blue, the laboratory's core color, and various yellows, oranges and reds would soon brighten buildings' exteriors, including houses in the Village, indicating that NAL was a different kind of workplace.

She also created posters for various lab events and exquisite covers for scientific reports, including annual reports and conference proceedings.

Gonzales left her mark on smaller projects as well. She coordinated the color selection for the Geodesic Dome, designed by Robert Shelton. She designed and hand-painted four table tops for the cafeteria, and employees continue to gather around three of those tables to this day. She designed and lettered signs for new work spaces in the early days of the computing department. And for the laboratory's 20th anniversary and the dedication of the Feynman Computing Center in 1988, she designed the event's poster and a kerchief, which were made into gifts for all the employees.

Gonzales worked at Fermilab for 31 years, until July 1998. It is thanks to her that Fermilab can boast such remarkable surroundings.

Angela Gonzales' logo design reflects the evolution of Robert Wilson's ideas, unifying the various magnets in the Main Ring.
From symmetry

Symmetry gets a new look

Symmetry has a new look.

Wednesday marked a brand new Symmetry magazine. The editorial team has simplified and updated the magazine's Web pages to help you find what you're looking for, to guide your attention to our best art and photography and to give you a better reading experience.

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Photos of the Day

Flying in fall

nature, animal, bird, goose, fall, autumn
nature, animal, bird, goose, fall, autumn
Against a backdrop of fall colors, geese fly into the sky. Photo: Sudeshna Ganguly, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
In the News

General relativity: 100 years old and still full of surprises

From Popular Science, Oct. 20, 2015

In 1913, Albert Einstein had stalled in his efforts to construct his general theory of relativity. He pleaded with his friend Marcel Grossmann for a mathematical boost: "Grossmann, you've got to help me, otherwise I'll go mad!" Four years later, as Einstein was finishing a paper on the cosmic implications of his (finally) completed theory, the malady had migrated to other parts of the body. He had a stomach ulcer; he suffered from liver disease. Worn out by his mental exertions, Einstein thought he was dying. He wrote to fellow physicist Arnold Sommerfeld: "In the last month I had one of the most stimulating, exhausting times of my life, indeed also one of the most successful."

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