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  • richardmitnick 3:33 pm on November 21, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Brookhaven National Labs, , ,   

    From BNL: “Women @ Energy: Meifeng Lin” 

    Brookhaven Lab

    November 14, 2014
    Joe Gettler

    l
    Meifeng Lin is a theoretical particle physicist and a computational scientist at the Computational Science Center of Brookhaven National Laboratory.

    Meifeng Lin is a theoretical particle physicist and a computational scientist at the Computational Science Center of Brookhaven National Laboratory. Her research focuses on advancing scientific discovery through high performance computing. One such area of her focus is lattice gauge theory, in which large-scale Monte Carlo simulations of the strong interaction between the sub-atomic particles called quarks and gluons are performed to study fundamental symmetries of the universe and internal structure of hadronic matter. She obtained her Bachelor of Science degree in Physics from Peking University in Beijing, China. After getting her PhD in theoretical particle physics from Columbia University, she held postdoctoral positions at MIT, Yale University and Boston University. Prior to joining BNL in 2013, she was an assistant computational scientist at Argonne Leadership Computing Facility.

    1) What inspired you to work in STEM?

    I always like to solve problems and figure out how things work. Being a farm girl in a small village in China, I was very close to nature and had a lot of opportunities to see physics at work in the daily life, even though I didn’t realize it then. For example, in the starch making process, farmers would drain the water out of the barrels using the siphon principle. Such experiences fostered my curiosity and later on when I learned physics and could make such connections, I was quite fascinated. I guess I also inherited the “curiosity” genes from my parents, who, although did not have the chance to get much education, were always trying to figure out how things work and fix everything by themselves. My father, in particular, also accidentally cultivated my interest in math and logic through things like puzzles and Chinese chess when I was a little kid.

    But the realization that I would like to work in STEM has been gradual and the fact that I do is more a happy accident than determination. There wasn’t an “aha” moment that made me decide to choose science as my career. Growing up, I always wanted to be a writer. Sort of by chance I was admitted to the Physics Department at Peking University. Once I started studying physics as a major, I grew to love the problem-solving aspects of it and was amazed by the mathematical simplicity of the laws of physics. Even more importantly, I saw intelligence, dedication and constant hunger for new knowledge in my professors and colleagues throughout the years. And I enjoyed working and learning with them very much. I think that’s what got me to work in STEM eventually and stay with it.

    2) What excites you about your work at the Energy Department?

    Working in a field that strives to understand the most fundamental properties of our universe gives me this feeling that I am making a small contribution to the advancement of human knowledge, and that is very satisfying for me. At the Energy Department, I am surrounded by some of the smartest people and constantly exposed to new ideas and new technologies. It makes my work both challenging and exciting. Now that I am in an interdisciplinary research center, I am excited to have the opportunity to learn from my colleagues about their areas of interests and hopefully expand my research horizon.

    3) How can our country engage more women, girls, and other underrepresented groups in STEM?

    For young girls who are thinking about entering the field, some guidance and encouragement from the teachers, both male and female, will certainly help a great deal. When I was in high school, I had female teachers telling me that I just needed to marry well. But I was lucky to have several of my male teachers who saw my potential in math and physics and offered me very generous support and guided me through difficult times. Without them I would probably have followed a more stereotypical path for girls. This may be less an issue in the US now, but we still need to be careful not to typecast girls and minorities.

    On the other hand, we need to have a more supportive system which can retain women and underrepresented groups already working in STEM. I almost gave up working in STEM at one point, because it was so hard to find a job in my field that would allow me and my husband to stay in one place—the notorious “two-body problem”. I was fortunate enough to have some very understanding and supportive supervisors and colleagues. At both Boston University and Argonne, I was given the green light to work from home most of the time. I am immensely grateful for this arrangement, as it gave me the necessary transition to eventually get my current job which is close to where my husband works. Of course other people in STEM may have more constraints due to the nature of their work and don’t have the luxury of working remotely. But some flexibility and understanding will go a long way.

    4) Do you have tips you’d recommend for someone looking to enter your field of work?

    Take your time to find a field that interests and excites you. I always thought I wanted to be an experimental condensed matter physicist, but after a few summers in the labs, it turned out I did not like to do the experiments or be in the clean room. But I enjoyed writing computer programs to control the instruments or do simulations and data analysis. Then I found the field of lattice gauge theory where theoretical physics and supercomputers meet, which is perfect for me.

    For lattice gauge theory, and for computational sciences in general, the requirements on both mathematical and computational skills are pretty high. So it is important to have a solid mathematical foundation from early on. Some experience with scientific computing will be helpful. It probably sounds harder than it really is. Just don’t expect to know everything from the beginning. Nobody does. A lot of the skills, especially programming skills, can be picked up and improved on the job. As long as this is something you are interested in, be passionate, persevere, and don’t be afraid to ask for help.

    5) When you have free time, what are your hobbies?

    I enjoy reading, jogging, traveling and just checking out new neighborhoods with my husband. Occasionally when the mood strikes, I also like to write. I still hope someday I will be able to write a book or two. But with my first baby on the way, all this may change. Time will tell.

    See the full article here.

    BNL Campus

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

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    One of ten national laboratories overseen and primarily funded by the Office of Science of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), Brookhaven National Laboratory conducts research in the physical, biomedical, and environmental sciences, as well as in energy technologies and national security. Brookhaven Lab also builds and operates major scientific facilities available to university, industry and government researchers. The Laboratory’s almost 3,000 scientists, engineers, and support staff are joined each year by more than 5,000 visiting researchers from around the world.Brookhaven is operated and managed for DOE’s Office of Science by Brookhaven Science Associates, a limited-liability company founded by Stony Brook University, the largest academic user of Laboratory facilities, and Battelle, a nonprofit, applied science and technology organization.
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  • richardmitnick 1:14 pm on November 18, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Brookhaven National Labs, Larry McLerran, ,   

    From BNL: “New Matter, Mathematical Models & Larry McLerran” 

    Brookhaven Lab

    November 18, 2014
    Joe Gettler

    American Physical Society to Honor Brookhaven Lab Physicist Larry McLerran With Feshbach Prize

    lm
    Larry McLerran

    With mathematical models, and some very good company both young and old, Larry McLerran’s decades-long quest to make sense of the laws governing the Universe’s most basic building blocks of matter has taken him from the United States’ West Coast to its East, and even as far as the Hunan province in central China. McLerran earned a Ph.D. in physics nearly forty years ago and today he’s a senior scientist at the Department of Energy’s Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL) and Theory Group leader for the RIKEN BNL Research Center (RBRC). Now, the American Physical Society (APS) will recognize McLerran for his pursuits, when he is presented with the APS’ Feshbach Prize for outstanding lifetime achievements in nuclear physics theory.

    The APS will present McLerran with its Feshbach Prize during the annual APS meeting in Baltimore, Maryland, in April 2015. McLerran was chosen to receive this honor “for his pioneering study of quantum chromodynamics at high energy density and laying the theoretical foundations of experimental ultrarelativistic heavy ion collisions. His work has been a crucial guide to experiments at the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC) and the Large Hadron Collider, and he has mentored a generation of young theorists.”

    BNL RHIC
    RHIC at BNL

    CERN LHC Grand Tunnel
    LHC at CERN

    “Over the years, I’ve worked with computers, pencils, chalk, and—most importantly—talented colleagues to figure out why the Universe behaves the way it does,” McLerran said. “I’m honored that my colleagues in the American Physical Society are recognizing me with this Feshbach Prize.”

    What’s the [New] Matter?

    “From tiny, short-lived subatomic particles to mysterious dark energy, the matter of our Universe forms beautiful, complex systems with many simple patterns and rules we understand very little about. There are great opportunities for discovery.”
    — Larry McLerran

    As a theoretical physicist, McLerran uses—and develops—complex mathematical models to figure out and explain why the Universe works the way it does. In particular, he probes the Universe within the scope of the theory of quantum chromodynamics, which describes the “strong” interactions among subatomic quarks and gluons that are naturally confined in protons and neutrons.

    In the early ’80s, McLerran and his colleague Ben Svetitsky of Tel Aviv University in Israel used computers that were powerful at the time and massive quantities of randomly generated numbers to do the first Monte Carlo simulation for high-temperature quantum chromodynamics. Together, they found a transition when those naturally confined quarks and gluons become free, no longer held captive by the strong force in the larger protons and neutrons. McLerran was among the first to propose that quark-gluon plasma—a blend of unbound quarks and gluons—could be produced by colliding heavy ions with high energies. Experimentalists later confirmed this at the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider at Brookhaven Lab, where they produced quark-gluon plasma from colliding gold ions, yet they were surprised to learn quark-gluon plasma was a free-flowing liquid, not a gas as most theorists predicted.

    Many of McLerran’s more recent contributions and achievements resulted from collaborations with his colleagues in the Physics Department’s Nuclear Theory Group—which aims to understand the fundamental structure of matter—and RBRC, a research center at Brookhaven Lab funded primarily by the Japanese RIKEN Laboratory for researchers to develop theoretical and computational physics, and to analyze data produced from particle collisions at RHIC.

    “Since coming to Brookhaven, Larry has helped build one of the best nuclear theory groups in the world. And as theory group leader for the RIKEN BNL Research Center, he has inspired and mentored a generation of outstanding nuclear theorists in the U.S. and abroad,” Nuclear Theory Group Leader Raju Venugopalan said. “In my view, Larry’s outsized creative achievements and tremendous impact make him a guaranteed ‘slam-dunk’ case for a lifetime achievement award like this APS Feshbach Prize.”

    Venugopalan and McLerran invented the idea of a kind of matter called “color glass condensate” that controls the limits of quantum chromodynamics at high energies. McLerran and Rob Pisarski of the Nuclear Theory Group and RBRC invented the concept of “quarkyonic matter,” which has properties of both free quarks and other confined particles called mesons and baryons. And with the Nuclear Theory Group’s Dmitri Kharzeev and postdoc Harmen Warringa, McLerran made a seminal contribution to a theory called the “chiral magnetic effect.”

    McLerran also worked with Alex Kovner of the University of Connecticut and Heribert Weigert at the University of Cape Town in South Africa to invent the theory for yet another new form of matter, called “glasma,” which makes the transition between the color glass condensate and quark-gluon plasma in collisions among strongly interacting particles. Today, McLerran is focused on determining the properties of glasma.

    “From tiny, short-lived subatomic particles to mysterious dark energy, the matter of our Universe forms beautiful, complex systems with many simple patterns and rules we understand very little about. There are great opportunities for discovery,” said McLerran.

    McLerran’s Major Milestones

    McLerran earned a Ph.D. in physics from the University of Washington in 1975. He worked as a research associate at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology from 1975 to 1978, and then at Stanford Linear Accelerator Center from 1978 until 1980. From 1980 to 1984, he was an assistant and associate professor at the University of Washington, and from 1984 to 1989 a scientist at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory. He taught as a professor at the University of Minnesota from 1988 to 2000, while also serving as a member and director of its Theoretical Physics Institute.

    In 1999, McLerran arrived at Brookhaven Lab as a senior scientist and led the Nuclear Theory Group until 2004. He took on his current role as the Theory Group Leader for the RIKEN BNL Research Center in 2003.

    McLerran has received a number of awards during his career, including a Brookhaven Science and Technology Award in FY2007—one of the Laboratory’s most distinguished prizes awarded for the exceptional nature of an employee’s contributions as well as the level of difficulty and benefit for Brookhaven.

    McLerran is a fellow of the American Physical Society and a foreign member of the Finnish Academy of Arts and Sciences. He was an Alexander Sloan Foundation Fellow; awarded the Alexander Humboldt prize in 1988; received the Hans Jensen prize at the University of Heidelberg in 2009, where he is a Jensen Professor of Theoretical Physics; and granted an honorary Ph.D. from Central China Normal University in 2011. He is currently the university’s Liu Lian Shou Professor of Theoretical Physics.

    Brookhaven National Laboratory is supported by the Office of Science of the U.S. Department of Energy. The Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States, and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, please visit science.energy.gov.. Now, the American Physical Society (APS) will recognize McLerran for his pursuits, when he is presented with the APS’ Feshbach Prize for outstanding lifetime achievements in nuclear physics theory.

    The APS will present McLerran with its Feshbach Prize during the annual APS meeting in Baltimore, Maryland, in April 2015. McLerran was chosen to receive this honor “for his pioneering study of quantum chromodynamics at high energy density and laying the theoretical foundations of experimental ultrarelativistic heavy ion collisions. His work has been a crucial guide to experiments at the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC) and the Large Hadron Collider, and he has mentored a generation of young theorists.”

    “Over the years, I’ve worked with computers, pencils, chalk, and—most importantly—talented colleagues to figure out why the Universe behaves the way it does,” McLerran said. “I’m honored that my colleagues in the American Physical Society are recognizing me with this Feshbach Prize.”
    What’s the [New] Matter?

    “From tiny, short-lived subatomic particles to mysterious dark energy, the matter of our Universe forms beautiful, complex systems with many simple patterns and rules we understand very little about. There are great opportunities for discovery.”
    — Larry McLerran

    As a theoretical physicist, McLerran uses—and develops—complex mathematical models to figure out and explain why the Universe works the way it does. In particular, he probes the Universe within the scope of the theory of quantum chromodynamics, which describes the “strong” interactions among subatomic quarks and gluons that are naturally confined in protons and neutrons.

    In the early ’80s, McLerran and his colleague Ben Svetitsky of Tel Aviv University in Israel used computers that were powerful at the time and massive quantities of randomly generated numbers to do the first Monte Carlo simulation for high-temperature quantum chromodynamics. Together, they found a transition when those naturally confined quarks and gluons become free, no longer held captive by the strong force in the larger protons and neutrons. McLerran was among the first to propose that quark-gluon plasma—a blend of unbound quarks and gluons—could be produced by colliding heavy ions with high energies. Experimentalists later confirmed this at the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider at Brookhaven Lab, where they produced quark-gluon plasma from colliding gold ions, yet they were surprised to learn quark-gluon plasma was a free-flowing liquid, not a gas as most theorists predicted.

    Many of McLerran’s more recent contributions and achievements resulted from collaborations with his colleagues in the Physics Department’s Nuclear Theory Group—which aims to understand the fundamental structure of matter—and RBRC, a research center at Brookhaven Lab funded primarily by the Japanese RIKEN Laboratory for researchers to develop theoretical and computational physics, and to analyze data produced from particle collisions at RHIC.

    “Since coming to Brookhaven, Larry has helped build one of the best nuclear theory groups in the world. And as theory group leader for the RIKEN BNL Research Center, he has inspired and mentored a generation of outstanding nuclear theorists in the U.S. and abroad,” Nuclear Theory Group Leader Raju Venugopalan said. “In my view, Larry’s outsized creative achievements and tremendous impact make him a guaranteed ‘slam-dunk’ case for a lifetime achievement award like this APS Feshbach Prize.”

    Venugopalan and McLerran invented the idea of a kind of matter called “color glass condensate” that controls the limits of quantum chromodynamics at high energies. McLerran and Rob Pisarski of the Nuclear Theory Group and RBRC invented the concept of “quarkyonic matter,” which has properties of both free quarks and other confined particles called mesons and baryons. And with the Nuclear Theory Group’s Dmitri Kharzeev and postdoc Harmen Warringa, McLerran made a seminal contribution to a theory called the “chiral magnetic effect.”

    McLerran also worked with Alex Kovner of the University of Connecticut and Heribert Weigert at the University of Cape Town in South Africa to invent the theory for yet another new form of matter, called “glasma,” which makes the transition between the color glass condensate and quark-gluon plasma in collisions among strongly interacting particles. Today, McLerran is focused on determining the properties of glasma.

    “From tiny, short-lived subatomic particles to mysterious dark energy, the matter of our Universe forms beautiful, complex systems with many simple patterns and rules we understand very little about. There are great opportunities for discovery,” said McLerran.

    McLerran’s Major Milestones

    McLerran earned a Ph.D. in physics from the University of Washington in 1975. He worked as a research associate at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology from 1975 to 1978, and then at Stanford Linear Accelerator Center from 1978 until 1980. From 1980 to 1984, he was an assistant and associate professor at the University of Washington, and from 1984 to 1989 a scientist at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory. He taught as a professor at the University of Minnesota from 1988 to 2000, while also serving as a member and director of its Theoretical Physics Institute.

    In 1999, McLerran arrived at Brookhaven Lab as a senior scientist and led the Nuclear Theory Group until 2004. He took on his current role as the Theory Group Leader for the RIKEN BNL Research Center in 2003.

    McLerran has received a number of awards during his career, including a Brookhaven Science and Technology Award in FY2007—one of the Laboratory’s most distinguished prizes awarded for the exceptional nature of an employee’s contributions as well as the level of difficulty and benefit for Brookhaven.

    McLerran is a fellow of the American Physical Society and a foreign member of the Finnish Academy of Arts and Sciences. He was an Alexander Sloan Foundation Fellow; awarded the Alexander Humboldt prize in 1988; received the Hans Jensen prize at the University of Heidelberg in 2009, where he is a Jensen Professor of Theoretical Physics; and granted an honorary Ph.D. from Central China Normal University in 2011. He is currently the university’s Liu Lian Shou Professor of Theoretical Physics.

    Brookhaven National Laboratory is supported by the Office of Science of the U.S. Department of Energy. The Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States, and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, please visit science.energy.gov.

    See the full article here.

    BNL Campus

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    One of ten national laboratories overseen and primarily funded by the Office of Science of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), Brookhaven National Laboratory conducts research in the physical, biomedical, and environmental sciences, as well as in energy technologies and national security. Brookhaven Lab also builds and operates major scientific facilities available to university, industry and government researchers. The Laboratory’s almost 3,000 scientists, engineers, and support staff are joined each year by more than 5,000 visiting researchers from around the world.Brookhaven is operated and managed for DOE’s Office of Science by Brookhaven Science Associates, a limited-liability company founded by Stony Brook University, the largest academic user of Laboratory facilities, and Battelle, a nonprofit, applied science and technology organization.
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  • richardmitnick 3:17 pm on November 11, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Brookhaven National Labs, , , ,   

    From Symmetry: “The November Revolution” 

    Symmetry

    November 11, 2014
    Amanda Solliday

    Forty years ago today, two different research groups announced the discovery of the same new particle and redefined how physicists view the universe.

    On November 11, 1974, members of the Cornell high-energy physics group could have spent the lulls during their lunch meeting chatting about the aftermath of Nixon’s resignation or the upcoming Big Red hockey season.

    But on that particular Monday, the most sensational topic was physics-related. One of the researchers in the audience stood up to report that two labs on opposite sides of the country were about to announce the same thing: the discovery of a new particle that heralded the birth of the Standard Model of particle physics.

    tr
    Ting and Richter

    sm
    The Standard Model of elementary particles, with the three generations of matter, gauge bosons in the fourth column, and the Higgs boson in the fifth.

    “Nobody at the meeting knew what the hell it was,” says physicist Kenneth Lane of Boston University, a former postdoctoral researcher at Cornell. Lane, among others, would spend the next few years describing the theory and consequences of this new particle.

    It isn’t often that a discovery comes along that forces everyone to reevaluate the way the world works. It’s even rarer for two groups to make such a discovery at the same time, using different methods.

    One announcement would come from a research group led by MIT physicist Sam Ting at Brookhaven National Laboratory in New York. The other was to come from a team headed by physicist Burton Richter at SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, then called the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center, in California. Word traveled fast.

    “We started getting all sorts of inquiries and congratulations before we even finished writing the paper,” Richter says. “Somebody told a friend, and then a friend told another friend.”

    Ting called the new particle the J particle. Richter called it psi. It became known as J/psi, the discovery that sparked the November Revolution.

    Independently, the researchers at Brookhaven and SLAC had designed two complementary experiments.

    Ting and his team had made the discovery using a proton machine, shooting an intense beam of particles at a fixed target. Ting was interested in how photons, particles of light, turn into heavy photons, particles with mass, and he wanted to know how many of these types of heavy photons existed in nature. So his team—consisting of 13 scientists from MIT with help from researchers at Brookhaven—designed and built a detector that would accept a wide range of heavy photon masses.

    “The experiment was quite difficult,” Ting says. “I guess when you’re younger, you’re more courageous.”

    In early summer 1974, they started the experiment at a high mass, around 4 to 5 billion electronvolts. They saw nothing. Later, they lowered the mass and soon saw a peak near 3 billion electronvolts that indicated a high production rate of a previously unknown particle.

    At SLAC, Richter had created a new type of collider, the Stanford Positron Electron Asymmetric Rings (SPEAR). His research group used a beam of electrons produced by a linear accelerator and stored the particles in a ring of magnets. Then, they would generate positrons in a linear accelerator and inject them in the other direction. The detector was able to look at everything produced in electron-positron collisions.

    The goal was to determine the masses of known elementary particles, but the researchers saw strange effects in the summer of 1974. They looked at that particular region with finer resolution, and over the weekend of November 9-10, discovered a tall, thin energy peak around 3 billion electronvolts.

    At the time, Ting visited SLAC as part of an advisory committee. The laboratory’s director, Pief Panofsky, asked Richter to meet with him.

    “He called and said, ‘It sounds like you guys have found the same thing,’” Richter says.

    Both researchers sent their findings to the journal Physical Review Letters. Their papers were published in the same issue. Other labs quickly replicated and confirmed the results.

    At the time, the basic pieces of today’s Standard Model of particle physics were still falling into place. Just a decade before, it had resembled the periodic table of the elements, including a wide, unruly collection of different types of particles called hadrons.

    Theorists Murray Gell-Mann and George Zweig were the first to propose that all of those different types of hadrons were actually made up of the same building blocks, called quarks. This model included three types of quark: up, down and strange. Other theorists—Sheldon Lee Glashow, James Bjorken, and then also John Iliopoulos and Luciano Maiani—proposed the existence of a fourth quark.

    On the day of the J/psi announcement, the Cornell researchers talked about the findings well into the afternoon. One of the professors in the department, Ken Wilson, made a connection between the discovery and a seminar given earlier that fall by Tom Appelquist, a physicist at Harvard University. Appelquist had been working with his colleague David Politzer to describe something they called “charmonium,” a bound state of a new type of quark and antiquark.

    “Only a few of us were thinking about the idea of a fourth quark,” says Appelquist, now a professor at Yale. “Ken called me right after the discovery and urged me to get our paper out ASAP.”

    The J/psi news inspired many other theorists to pick up their chalk as well.

    “It was clear from day one that J/psi was a major discovery,” Appelquist says. “It almost completely reoriented the theoretical community. Everyone wanted to think about it.”

    Less than two weeks after the initial discovery, Richter’s group also found psi-prime, a relative of J/psi that showed even more cracks in the three-quark model.

    “There was a whole collection of possibilities of what could exist outside the current model, and people were speculating about what that may be,” Richter says. “Our experiment pruned the weeds.”

    The findings of the J/psi teams triggered additional searches for unknown elementary particles, exploration that would reveal the final shape of the Standard Model. In 1976, the two experiment leaders were awarded the Nobel Prize for their achievement.

    In 1977, scientists at Fermilab discovered the fifth quark, the bottom quark. In 1995, they discovered the sixth one, the top.

    Today, theorists and experimentalists are still driven to answer questions not explained by the current prevailing model. Does supersymmetry exist? What are dark matter and dark energy? What particles have we yet to discover?

    Supersymmetry standard model
    Standard Model of Supersymmetry

    “If the answers are found, it will take us even deeper into what we are supposed to be doing as high-energy physicists,” Lane says. “But it probably isn’t going to be this lightning flash that happens on one Monday afternoon.”

    t&R
    Ting and Richter
    Courtesy of: SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory

    See the full article here.

    Symmetry is a joint Fermilab/SLAC publication.


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  • richardmitnick 2:47 pm on October 22, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Brookhaven National Labs, ,   

    From BNL: “Brookhaven Lab Launches Computational Science Initiative” 

    Brookhaven Lab

    October 22, 2014
    Karen McNulty Walsh, (631) 344-8350 or Peter Genzer, (631) 344-3174

    Leveraging computational science expertise and investments across the Laboratory to tackle “big data” challenges

    Building on its capabilities in computational science and data management, the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Brookhaven National Laboratory is embarking upon a major new Computational Science Initiative (CSI). This program will leverage computational science expertise and investments across multiple programs at the Laboratory—including the flagship facilities that attract thousands of scientific users each year—further establishing Brookhaven as a leader in tackling the “big data” challenges at the frontiers of scientific discovery. Key partners in this endeavor include nearby universities such as Columbia, Cornell, New York University, Stony Brook, and Yale, and IBM Research.

    blue
    Blue Gene/Q Supercomputer at Brookhaven National Laboratory

    “The CSI will bring together under one umbrella the expertise that drives [the success of Brookhaven's scientific programs] to foster cross-disciplinary collaboration and make optimal use of existing technologies, while also leading the development of new tools and methods that will benefit science both within and beyond the Laboratory.”
    — Robert Tribble

    “Advances in computational science and management of large-scale scientific data developed at Brookhaven Lab have been a key factor in the success of the scientific programs at the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC), the National Synchrotron Light Source (NSLS), the Center for Functional Nanomaterials (CFN), and in biological, atmospheric, and energy systems science, as well as our collaborative participation in international research endeavors, such as the ATLAS experiment at Europe’s Large Hadron Collider,” said Robert Tribble, Brookhaven Lab’s Deputy Director for Science and Technology, who is leading the development of the new initiative. “The CSI will bring together under one umbrella the expertise that drives this success to foster cross-disciplinary collaboration and make optimal use of existing technologies, while also leading the development of new tools and methods that will benefit science both within and beyond the Laboratory.”

    BNL RHIC
    BNL RHIC Campus
    RHIC at BNL

    BNL NSLS
    BNL NSLS Interior
    NSLS at BNL

    A centerpiece of the initiative will be a new Center for Data-Driven Discovery (C3D) that will serve as a focal point for this activity. Within the Laboratory it will drive the integration of intellectual, programmatic, and data/computational infrastructure with the goals of accelerating and expanding discovery by developing critical mass in key disciplines, enabling nimble response to new opportunities for discovery or collaboration, and ultimately integrating the tools and capabilities across the entire Laboratory into a single scientific resource. Outside the Laboratory C3D will serve as a focal point for recruiting, collaboration, and communication.

    The people and capabilities of C3D are also integral to the success of Brookhaven’s key scientific facilities, including those named above, the new National Synchrotron Light Source II (NSLS-II), and a possible future electron ion collider (EIC) at Brookhaven. Hundreds of scientists from Brookhaven and thousands of facility users from universities, industry, and other laboratories around the country and throughout the world will benefit from the capabilities developed by C3D personnel to make sense of the enormous volumes of data produced at these state-of-the-art research facilities.

    BNL NSLS II Photo
    BNL NSLS-II Interior
    NSLS II at BNL

    The CSI in conjunction with C3D will also host a series of workshops/conferences and training sessions in high-performance computing—including annual workshops on extreme-scale data and scientific knowledge discovery, extreme-scale networking, and extreme-scale workflow for integrated science. These workshops will explore topics at the frontier of data-centric, high-performance computing, such as the combination of efficient methodologies and innovative computer systems and concepts to manage and analyze scientific data generated at high volumes and rates.

    “The missions of C3D and the overall CSI are well aligned with the broad missions and goals of many agencies and industries, especially those of DOE’s Office of Science and its Advanced Scientific Computing Research (ASCR) program,” said Robert Harrison, who holds a joint appointment as director of Brookhaven Lab’s Computational Science Center (CSC) and Stony Brook University’s Institute for Advanced Computational Science (IACS) and is leading the creation of C3D.

    The CSI at Brookhaven will specifically address the challenge of developing new tools and techniques to deliver on the promise of exascale science—the ability to compute at a rate of 1018 floating point operations per second (exaFLOPS), to handle the copious amount of data created by computational models and simulations, and to employ exascale computation to interpret and analyze exascale data anticipated from experiments in the near future.

    “Without these tools, scientific results would remain hidden in the data generated by these simulations,” said Brookhaven computational scientist Michael McGuigan, who will be working on data visualization and simulation at C3D. “These tools will enable researchers to extract knowledge and share key findings.”

    Through the initiative, Brookhaven will establish partnerships with leading universities, including Columbia, Cornell, Stony Brook, and Yale to tackle “big data” challenges.

    “Many of these institutions are already focusing on data science as a key enabler to discovery,” Harrison said. “For example, Columbia University has formed the Institute for Data Sciences and Engineering with just that mission in mind.”

    Computational scientists at Brookhaven will also seek to establish partnerships with industry. “As an example, partnerships with IBM have been successful in the past with co-design of the QCDOC and BlueGene computer architectures,” McGuigan said. “We anticipate more success with data-centric computer designs in the future.”

    An area that may be of particular interest to industrial partners is how to interface big-data experimental problems (such as those that will be explored at NSLS-II, or in the fields of high-energy and nuclear physics) with high-performance computing using advanced network technologies. “The reality of ‘computing system on a chip’ technology opens the door to customizing high-performance network interface cards and application program interfaces (APIs) in amazing ways,” said Dantong Yu, a group leader and data scientist in the CSC.

    “In addition, the development of asynchronous data access and transports based on remote direct memory access (RDMA) techniques and improvements in quality of service for network traffic could significantly lower the energy footprint for data processing while enhancing processing performance. Projects in this area would be highly amenable to industrial collaboration and lead to an expansion of our contributions beyond system and application development and designing programming algorithms into the new arena of exascale technology development,” Yu said.

    “The overarching goal of this initiative will be to bring under one umbrella all the major data-centric activities of the Lab to greatly facilitate the sharing of ideas, leverage knowledge across disciplines, and attract the best data scientists to Brookhaven to help us advance data-centric, high-performance computing to support scientific discovery,” Tribble said. “This initiative will also greatly increase the visibility of the data science already being done at Brookhaven Lab and at its partner institutions.”

    See the full article here.

    BNL Campus

    One of ten national laboratories overseen and primarily funded by the Office of Science of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), Brookhaven National Laboratory conducts research in the physical, biomedical, and environmental sciences, as well as in energy technologies and national security. Brookhaven Lab also builds and operates major scientific facilities available to university, industry and government researchers. The Laboratory’s almost 3,000 scientists, engineers, and support staff are joined each year by more than 5,000 visiting researchers from around the world.Brookhaven is operated and managed for DOE’s Office of Science by Brookhaven Science Associates, a limited-liability company founded by Stony Brook University, the largest academic user of Laboratory facilities, and Battelle, a nonprofit, applied science and technology organization.
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  • richardmitnick 5:55 pm on October 16, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Brookhaven National Labs, ,   

    From BNL: “Scientists Map Key Moment in Assembly of DNA-Splitting Molecular Machine” 

    Brookhaven Lab

    October 15, 2014
    Justin Eure, (631) 344-2347 or Peter Genzer, (631) 344-3174

    The proteins that drive DNA replication—the force behind cellular growth and reproduction—are some of the most complex machines on Earth. The multistep replication process involves hundreds of atomic-scale moving parts that rapidly interact and transform. Mapping that dense molecular machinery is one of the most promising and challenging frontiers in medicine and biology.

    Now, scientists have pinpointed crucial steps in the beginning of the replication process, including surprising structural details about the enzyme that “unzips” and splits the DNA double helix so the two halves can serve as templates for DNA duplication.

    The research combined electron microscopy, perfectly distilled proteins, and a method of chemical freezing to isolate specific moments at the start of replication. The study—authored by scientists from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Brookhaven National Laboratory, Stony Brook University, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, and Imperial College, London—published on Oct. 15, 2014, in the journal Genes and Development.

    “The genesis of the DNA-unwinding machinery is wonderfully complex and surprising,” said study coauthor Huilin Li, a biologist at Brookhaven Lab and Stony Brook University. “Seeing this helicase enzyme prepare to surround and unwind the DNA at the molecular level helps us understand the most fundamental process of life and how that process might go wrong. Errors in copying DNA are found in certain cancers, and this work could one day help develop new treatment methods that stall or break dangerous runaway machinery.”

    The research picks up where two previous studies by Li and colleagues left off. They first determined the structure of the “Origin Recognition Complex” (ORC), a protein that identifies and attaches to specific DNA sites to initiate the entire replication process. The second study revealed how the ORC recruits, cracks open, and installs a crucial ring-shaped protein structure (Mcm2-7) that lies at the core of the helicase enzyme.

    But DNA replication is a bi-directional process with two helicases moving in opposite directions. The key question, then, was how does a second helicase core get recruited and loaded onto the DNA in the opposite orientation of the first?

    dr
    Three-dimensional model (based on electron microscopy data) of the double-ring structure loaded onto a DNA helix.

    “To our surprise, we found an intermediate structure with one ORC binding two rings,” said Brookhaven Lab biologist and lead author Jingchuan Sun. “This discovery suggests that a single ORC, rather than the commonly believed two-ORC system, loads both helicase rings.”

    One step further along, the researchers also determined the molecular architecture of the final double-ring structure left behind after the ORC leaves the system, offering a number of key biological insights.

    “We now have clues to how that double-ring structure stably lingers until the cell enters the DNA-synthesis phase much later on in replication,” said study coauthor Christian Speck of Imperial College, London. “This study revealed key regulatory principles that explain how the helicase activity is initially suppressed and then becomes reactivated to begin its work splitting the DNA.”

    three
    Precision methods, close collaboration
    Collaborating scientists and study coauthors Zuanning Yuan of Stony Brook University (standing), Huilin Li of Stony Brook and Brookhaven Lab (seated, back), and Jingchuan Sun of Brookhaven Lab (seated, front) examining protein structures.

    Examining these fleeting molecular structures required mastery of biology, chemistry, and electron microscopy techniques.

    “This three-way collaboration took advantage of each lab’s long standing collaboration and expertise,” said study coauthor Bruce Stillman of Cold Spring Harbor. “Imperial College and Cold Spring Harbor handled the challenging material preparation and functional characterization, while Brookhaven and Stony Brook led the sophisticated molecular imaging and three-dimensional image reconstruction.”

    The researchers used proteins from baker’s yeast—a model organism for the more complex systems found in animals. The scientists isolated the protein mechanisms involved in replication and removed structures that might otherwise complicate the images.

    Once the isolated proteins were mixed with DNA, the scientists injected chemicals to “freeze” the binding and recruitment process at intervals of 2, 7, and 30 minutes.

    They then used an electron microscope at Brookhaven to pin down the exact structures at each targeted moment in a kind of molecular time-lapse. Rather than the light used in a traditional microscope, this technique uses focused beams of electrons to illuminate a sample and form images with atomic resolution. The instrument produces a large number of two-dimensional electron beam images, which a computer then reconstructs into three-dimensional structure.

    “This technique is ideal because we’re imaging relatively massive proteins here,” Li said. “A typical protein contains three hundred amino acids, but these DNA replication mechanisms consist of tens of thousands of amino acids. The entire structure is about 20-nanometers across, compared to 4 nanometers for an average protein.”

    Unraveling the DNA processes at the most fundamental level, the focus of this team’s work, could have far-reaching implications.

    “The structural knowledge may help others engineer small molecules that inhibit DNA replication at specific moments, leading to new disease prevention or treatment techniques,” Li said.

    Additional collaborators on this research include Alejandra Fernandez, Alberto Riera, and Silvia Tognetti of the MRC Clinical Science Centre of Imperial College, London; and Zuanning Yuan of Stony Brook University.

    The research was funded by the National Institutes of Health (GM45436, GM74985) and the United Kingdom Medical Research Council.

    See the full article here.

    BNL Campus

    One of ten national laboratories overseen and primarily funded by the Office of Science of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), Brookhaven National Laboratory conducts research in the physical, biomedical, and environmental sciences, as well as in energy technologies and national security. Brookhaven Lab also builds and operates major scientific facilities available to university, industry and government researchers. The Laboratory’s almost 3,000 scientists, engineers, and support staff are joined each year by more than 5,000 visiting researchers from around the world.Brookhaven is operated and managed for DOE’s Office of Science by Brookhaven Science Associates, a limited-liability company founded by Stony Brook University, the largest academic user of Laboratory facilities, and Battelle, a nonprofit, applied science and technology organization.
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  • richardmitnick 2:41 pm on October 14, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Brookhaven National Labs, , ,   

    From BNL: “Unstoppable Magnetoresistance” 

    Brookhaven Lab

    October 14, 2014
    Tien Nguyen

    Mazhar Ali, a fifth-year graduate student in the laboratory of Bob Cava, the Russell Wellman Moore Professor of Chemistry at Princeton University, has spent his academic career discovering new superconductors, materials coveted for their ability to let electrons flow without resistance. While testing his latest candidate, the semimetal tungsten ditelluride (WTe2), he noticed a peculiar result.

    Ali applied a magnetic field to a sample of WTe2, one way to kill superconductivity if present, and saw that its resistance doubled. Intrigued, Ali worked with Jun Xiong, a student in the laboratory of Nai Phuan Ong, the Eugene Higgins Professor of Physics at Princeton, to re-measure the material’s magnetoresistance, which is the change in resistance as a material is exposed to stronger magnetic fields.

    two
    Mazhar Ali (left) and Steven Flynn (right), co-authors on the Nature article
    Photo credit: C. Todd Reichart

    “They have unique capabilities at Brookhaven. One is that they can measure diffraction at 10 Kelvin (-441 °F).”
    — Bob Cava, Princeton University

    “He noticed the magnetoresistance kept going up and up and up—that never happens.” said Cava. The researchers then exposed WTe2 to a 60-tesla magnetic field, close to the strongest magnetic field mankind can create, and observed a magnetoresistance of 13 million percent. The material’s magnetoresistance displayed unlimited growth, making it the only known material without a saturation point. The results were published on September 14 in the journal Nature.

    Electronic information storage is dependent on the use of magnetic fields to switch between distinct resistivity values that correlate to either a one or a zero. The larger the magnetoresistance, the smaller the magnetic field needed to change from one state to another, Ali said. Today’s devices use layered materials with so-called “giant magnetoresistance,” with changes in resistance of 20,000 to 30,000 percent when a magnetic field is applied. “Colossal magnetoresistance” is close to 100,000 percent, so for a magnetoresistance percentage in the millions, the researchers hoped to coin a new term.

    cry.
    Crystal Structure of WTe2. Image credit: Nature

    Their original choice was “ludicrous” magnetoresistance, which was inspired by “ludicrous speed,” the fictional form of fast-travel used in the comedy “Spaceballs.” They even included an acknowledgement to director Mel Brooks. After other lab members vetoed “ludicrous,” the researchers considered “titanic” before Nature editors ultimately steered them towards the term “large magnetoresistance.”

    Terminology aside, the fact remained that the magnetoresistance values were extraordinarily high, a phenomenon that might be understood through the structure of WTe2. To look at the structure with an electron microscope, the research team turned to Jing Tao, a researcher at Brookhaven National Laboratory.

    jt
    Jing Tao

    “Jing is a great microscopist. They have unique capabilities at Brookhaven,” Cava said. “One is that they can measure diffraction at 10 Kelvin (-441 °F). Not too many people on Earth can do that, but Jing can.”

    Electron microscopy experiments revealed the presence of tungsten dimers, paired tungsten atoms, arranged in chains responsible for the key distortion from the classic octahedral structure type. The research team proposed that WTe2 owes its lack of saturation to the nearly perfect balance of electrons and electron holes, which are empty docks for traveling electrons. Because of its structure, WTe2 only exhibits magnetoresistance when the magnetic field is applied in a certain direction. This could be very useful in scanners, where multiple WTe2 devices could be used to detect the position of magnetic fields, Ali said.

    “Aside from making devices from WTe2, the question to ask yourself as a scientist is: How can it be perfectly balanced, is there something more profound,” Cava said.

    See the full article here.

    BNL Campus

    One of ten national laboratories overseen and primarily funded by the Office of Science of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), Brookhaven National Laboratory conducts research in the physical, biomedical, and environmental sciences, as well as in energy technologies and national security. Brookhaven Lab also builds and operates major scientific facilities available to university, industry and government researchers. The Laboratory’s almost 3,000 scientists, engineers, and support staff are joined each year by more than 5,000 visiting researchers from around the world.Brookhaven is operated and managed for DOE’s Office of Science by Brookhaven Science Associates, a limited-liability company founded by Stony Brook University, the largest academic user of Laboratory facilities, and Battelle, a nonprofit, applied science and technology organization.
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  • richardmitnick 3:12 pm on October 10, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Brookhaven National Labs, , Science Friday   

    From Science Friday via BNL: "How to Make Quark Soup" 

    Brookhaven Lab

    scifri

    Watch, enjoy, learn

    BNL Campus

    One of ten national laboratories overseen and primarily funded by the Office of Science of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), Brookhaven National Laboratory conducts research in the physical, biomedical, and environmental sciences, as well as in energy technologies and national security. Brookhaven Lab also builds and operates major scientific facilities available to university, industry and government researchers. The Laboratory’s almost 3,000 scientists, engineers, and support staff are joined each year by more than 5,000 visiting researchers from around the world.Brookhaven is operated and managed for DOE’s Office of Science by Brookhaven Science Associates, a limited-liability company founded by Stony Brook University, the largest academic user of Laboratory facilities, and Battelle, a nonprofit, applied science and technology organization.
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  • richardmitnick 2:18 pm on October 10, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , Brookhaven National Labs   

    From BNL: “Researchers Pump Up Oil Accumulation in Plant Leaves” 

    Brookhaven Lab

    October 7, 2014
    Karen McNulty Walsh, (631) 344-8350 or Peter Genzer, (631) 344-3174

    Increasing the oil content of plant biomass could help fulfill the nation’s increasing demand for renewable energy feedstocks. But many of the details of how plant leaves make and break down oils have remained a mystery. Now a series of detailed genetic studies conducted at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Brookhaven National Laboratory and published in The Plant Cell reveals previously unknown biochemical details about those metabolic pathways—including new ways to increase the accumulation of oil in leaves, an abundant source of biomass for fuel production.

    Using these methods, the scientists grew experimental Arabidopsis plants whose leaves accumulated 9 percent oil by dry weight, which represents an approximately 150-fold increase in oil content compared to wild type leaves.

    “This is an unusually high level of oil accumulation for plant vegetative tissue,” said Brookhaven Lab biochemist Changcheng Xu, who led the research team. “In crop plants, whose growth time is longer, if the rate of oil accumulation is the same we could get much higher oil content—possibly as high as 40 percent by weight,” he said.

    And when it comes to growing plants for biofuels, packing on the calories is the goal, because energy-dense oils give more “bang per bushel” than less-energy-dense leaf carbohydrates.
    Deciphering biochemical pathways

    The key to increasing oil accumulation in these studies was to unravel the details of the biochemical pathways involved in the conversion of carbon into fatty acids, the storage of fatty acids as oil, and the breakdown of oil in leaves. Prior to this research, scientists did not know that these processes were so intimately related.

    “Our method resulted in an unusually high level of oil accumulation in plant vegetative tissue.”
    — Brookhaven Lab biochemist Changcheng Xu

    “We previously thought that oil storage and oil degradation were alternative fates for newly synthesized fatty acids—the building blocks of oils,” said Brookhaven biochemist John Shanklin, a collaborator on the studies.

    To reveal the connections, Brookhaven’s Jillian Fan and other team members used a series of genetic tricks to systematically disable an alphabet soup of enzymes—molecules that mediate a cell’s chemical reactions—to see whether and how each had an effect in regulating the various biochemical conversions. They also used radiolabeled versions of fatty acids to trace their paths and learn how quickly they move through the pathway. They then used the findings to map out how the processes take place inside different subcellular structures, some of which you might recognize from high school science classes: the chloroplast, endoplasmic reticulum, storage droplets, and the peroxisome.

    team
    Brookhaven researchers Jilian Fan, John Shanklin, and Changcheng Xu have developed a method for getting experimental plants to accumulate more leaf oil. Their strategy could have a significant impact on the production of biofuels.

    “Our goal was to test and understand all the components of the system to fully understand how fatty acids, which are produced in the chloroplasts, are broken down in the peroxisome,” Xu said.

    Key findings

    syn
    Details of the oil synthesis and breakdown pathways within plant leaf cells: Fatty acids (FA) synthesized within chloroplasts go through a series of reactions to be incorporated into lipids (TAG) within the endoplasmic reticulum (ER); lipid droplets (LD) store lipids such as oils until they are broken down to release fatty acids into the cytoplasm; the fatty acids are eventually transported into the peroxisome for oxidation. This detailed metabolic map pointed to a new way to dramatically increase the accumulation of oil in plant leaves — blocking the SDP1 enzyme that releases fatty acids from lipid droplets in plants with elevated fatty acid synthesis. If this strategy works in biofuel crops, it could dramatically increase the energy content of biomass used to make biofuels.

    The research revealed that there is no direct pathway for fatty acids to move from the chloroplasts to the peroxisome as had previously been assumed. Instead, many complex reactions occur within the endoplasmic reticulum to first convert the fatty acids through a series of intermediates into plant oils. These oils accumulate in storage droplets within the cytoplasm until another enzyme breaks them down to release the fatty acid building blocks. Yet another enzyme must transport the fatty acids into the peroxisome for the final stages of degradation via oxidation. The amount of oil that accumulates at any one time represents a balance between the pathways of synthesis and degradation.

    Some previous attempts to increase oil accumulation in leaves have focused on disrupting the breakdown of oils by blocking the action of the enzyme that transports fatty acids into the peroxisome. The reasoning was that the accumulation of fatty acids would have a negative feedback on oil droplet breakdown. High levels of fatty acids remaining in the cytoplasm would inhibit the further breakdown of oil droplets, resulting in higher oil accumulation.

    That idea works to some extent, Xu said, but the current research shows it has negative effects on the overall health of the plants. “Plants don’t grow as well and there can be other defects,” he said.

    Based on their new understanding of the detailed biochemical steps that lead to oil breakdown, Xu and his collaborators explored another approach—namely disabling the enzyme one step back in the metabolic process, the one that breaks down oil droplets to release fatty acids.

    “If we knock out this enzyme, known as SDP1, we get a large amount of oil accumulating in the leaves,” he said, “and without substantial detrimental effects on plant growth.”

    “This research points to a new and different way to accumulate oil in leaves from that being tried in other labs,” Xu said. “In addition, the strategy differs fundamentally from other strategies that are based on adding genes, whereas our strategy is based on disabling or inactivating genes through simple mutations. This work provides a very promising platform for engineering oil production in a non-genetically modified way.”

    “This work provides another example of how research into basic biochemical mechanisms can lead to knowledge that has great promise to help solve real world problems,” concluded Shanklin.

    This research was conducted by Xu in collaboration with Jilian Fan and Chengshi Yan and John Shanklin of Brookhaven’s Biosciences Department, and Rebecca Roston, now at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. The work was funded by the DOE Office of Science and made use of a confocal microscope at Brookhaven Lab’s Center for Functional Nanomaterials, a DOE Office of Science user facility.

    See the full article here.

    BNL Campus

    One of ten national laboratories overseen and primarily funded by the Office of Science of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), Brookhaven National Laboratory conducts research in the physical, biomedical, and environmental sciences, as well as in energy technologies and national security. Brookhaven Lab also builds and operates major scientific facilities available to university, industry and government researchers. The Laboratory’s almost 3,000 scientists, engineers, and support staff are joined each year by more than 5,000 visiting researchers from around the world.Brookhaven is operated and managed for DOE’s Office of Science by Brookhaven Science Associates, a limited-liability company founded by Stony Brook University, the largest academic user of Laboratory facilities, and Battelle, a nonprofit, applied science and technology organization.
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  • richardmitnick 2:43 pm on October 3, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Brookhaven National Labs, , ,   

    From BNL: “Brookhaven and the Daya Bay Neutrino Experiment” 

    Brookhaven Lab

    October 1, 2014
    Karen McNulty Walsh

    The Daya Bay Collaboration, an international group of scientists studying the subtle transformations of subatomic particles called neutrinos, is publishing its first results on the search for a so-called sterile neutrino, a possible new type of neutrino beyond the three known neutrino “flavors,” or types. The existence of this elusive particle, if proven, would have a profound impact on our understanding of the universe, and could impact the design of future neutrino experiments. The new results, appearing in the journal Physical Review Letters, show no evidence for sterile neutrinos in a previously unexplored mass range. Read the collaboration press release.

    db
    Daya Bay
    Daya Bay
    The U.S. Department of Energy’s Brookhaven National Laboratory plays multiple roles in the Daya Bay experiment, ranging from management to data analysis. In addition to coordinating detector engineering and design efforts and developing software and analysis techniques, Brookhaven scientists perfected the “recipe” for a very special, chemically stable liquid that fills Daya Bay’s detectors and interacts with antineutrinos. This work at Daya Bay builds on a legacy of breakthrough neutrino research by Brookhaven Lab that has resulted in two Nobel Prizes in Physics.

    team
    Members of the BNL team on the Daya Bay Neutrino Project include: (seated, from left) Penka Novakova, Laurie Littenberg, Steve Kettell, Ralph Brown, and Bob Hackenburg; (standing, from left) Zhe Wang, Chao Zhang, Jiajie Ling, David Jaffe, Brett Viren, Wanda Beriguete, Ron Gill, Mary Bishai, Richard Rosero, Sunej Hans, and Milind Diwan. Missing from the picture are: Donna Barci, Wai-Ting Chan, Chellis Chasman, Debbie Kerr, Hide Tanaka, Wei Tang, Xin Qian, Minfang Yeh, and Elizabeth Worcester.

    Comments from U.S. Daya Bay Chief Scientist Steve Kettell

    sk
    Steve Kettell

    This body of research is helping to unlock the secrets of the least understood constituents of matter—an important quest considering that neutrinos outnumber all other particle types with a billion neutrinos for every quark or electron.

    The fairly recent discovery that neutrinos have mass changes how we must think about the Standard Model of particle physics because it cannot be explained by that well-accepted description of all known particles and their interactions.

    sm
    The Standard Model of elementary particles, with the three generations of matter, gauge bosons in the fourth column, and the Higgs boson in the fifth.

    Understanding the details of neutrino mass could have huge implications for our understanding of how the universe evolved. And those details—including how neutrinos oscillate, or switch from one flavor to another, are the essence of the research at Daya Bay and a key to unlocking these mysteries.

    The unusual properties of the known neutrinos, particularly their unique mass properties compared to other particles in the Standard Model, give us good reason to suspect that the universe may be full of such neutral particles of other flavors, such as the sterile neutrino. These particles could potentially help account for a large portion of matter in the universe that we cannot detect directly, so called dark matter.

    Daya Bay has been an exciting experiment to work on. It has been exquisitely designed and built, enabling us to make several important discoveries (first result and new result) and to search for these particles. And while the latest study from Daya Bay did not detect evidence of sterile neutrinos, it did greatly narrow the range in which we need to search. We will continue to exploit this beautiful experiment to further explore and understand the properties of the mysterious neutrino.

    The existence of neutrino mass and mixing leads to further deep questions, in particular whether neutrinos are responsible for the dominance of matter over antimatter in the universe. With the first results from Daya Bay this question now seems answerable with the long-baseline neutrino project planned at DOE’s Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory. Brookhaven scientists identified this scientific opportunity and continue to lead the development of this project, which has now been endorsed by recent national advisory panels as the highest priority domestic project in fundamental particle physics.
    See the full article here.

    BNL Campus

    One of ten national laboratories overseen and primarily funded by the Office of Science of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), Brookhaven National Laboratory conducts research in the physical, biomedical, and environmental sciences, as well as in energy technologies and national security. Brookhaven Lab also builds and operates major scientific facilities available to university, industry and government researchers. The Laboratory’s almost 3,000 scientists, engineers, and support staff are joined each year by more than 5,000 visiting researchers from around the world.Brookhaven is operated and managed for DOE’s Office of Science by Brookhaven Science Associates, a limited-liability company founded by Stony Brook University, the largest academic user of Laboratory facilities, and Battelle, a nonprofit, applied science and technology organization.
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  • richardmitnick 3:10 pm on September 15, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Brookhaven National Labs,   

    From BNL: “Elusive Quantum Transformations Found Near Absolute Zero” 

    Brookhaven Lab

    September 15, 2014
    Justin Eure, (631) 344-2347 or Peter Genzer, (631) 344-3174

    Brookhaven Lab and Stony Brook University researchers measure the quantum fluctuations behind a novel magnetic material’s ultra-cold ferromagnetic phase transition.

    Heat drives classical phase transitions—think solid, liquid, and gas—but much stranger things can happen when the temperature drops. If phase transitions occur at the coldest temperatures imaginable, where quantum mechanics reigns, subtle fluctuations can dramatically transform a material.

    Scientists from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Brookhaven National Laboratory and Stony Brook University have explored this frigid landscape of absolute zero to isolate and probe these quantum phase transitions with unprecedented precision.

    two
    Liusuo Wu, a Stony Brook University Ph.D. student and lead author on the study, with his postdoctoral advisor (and study coauthor) Meigan Aronson, a Brookhaven Lab physicist and Stony Brook professor

    “Under these cold conditions, the electronic, magnetic, and thermodynamic performance of metallic materials is defined by these elusive quantum fluctuations,” said study coauthor Meigan Aronson, a physicist at Brookhaven Lab and professor at Stony Brook. “For the first time, we have a picture of one of the most fundamental electron states without ambient heat obscuring or complicating those properties.”

    The scientists explored the onset of ferromagnetism—the same magnetic polarization exploited in advanced electronic devices, electrical motors, and even refrigerator magnets—in a custom-synthesized iron compound as it approached absolute zero.

    The research provides new methods to identify and understand novel materials with powerful and unexpected properties, including superconductivity—the ability to conduct electricity with perfect efficiency. The study will be published online Sept. 15, 2014, in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

    “Exposing this quantum phase transition allows us to predict and potentially boost the performance of new materials in practical ways that were previously only theoretical,” said study coauthor and Brookhaven Lab physicist Alexei Tsvelik.

    Mapping Quantum Landscapes

    cry
    Rendering of the near–perfect crystal structure of the yttrium–iron–aluminum compound used in the study. The two–dimensional layers of the material allowed the scientists to isolate the magnetic ordering that emerged near absolute zero.

    The presence of heat complicates or overpowers the so-called quantum critical fluctuations, so the scientists conducted experiments at the lowest possible temperatures.

    “The laws of thermodynamics make absolute zero unreachable, but the quantum phase transitions can actually be observed at nonzero temperatures,” Aronson said. “Even so, in order to deduce the full quantum mechanical nature, we needed to reach temperatures as low as 0.06 Kelvin—much, much colder than liquid helium or even interstellar space.”

    The researchers used a novel compound of yttrium, iron, and aluminum (YFe2Al10), which they discovered while searching for new superconductors. This layered, metallic material sits poised on the threshold of ferromagnetic order, a key and very rare property.

    “Our thermodynamic and magnetic measurements proved that YFe2Al10 becomes ferromagnetic exactly at absolute zero—a sharp contrast to iron, which is ferromagnetic well above room temperature,” Aronson said. “Further, we used magnetic fields to reverse this ferromagnetic order, proving that quantum fluctuations were responsible.”

    The collaboration produced near-perfect samples to prove that material defects could not impact the results. They were also the first group to prepare YFe2Al10 in single-crystal form, which allowed them to show that the emergent magnetism resided within two-dimensional layers.

    “As the ferromagnetism decayed with heat or applied magnetic fields, we used theory to identify the spatial and temporal fluctuations that drove the transition,” Tsvelik said. “That fundamental information provides insight into countless other materials.”

    Quantum Clues to New Materials

    The scientists plan to modify the composition of YFe2Al10 so that it becomes ferromagnetic at nonzero temperatures, opening another window onto the relationship between temperature, quantum transitions, and material performance.

    “Robust magnetic ordering generally blocks superconductivity, but suppressing this state might achieve the exact balance of quantum fluctuations needed to realize unconventional superconductivity,” Tsvelik said. “It is a matter of great experimental and theoretical interest to isolate these competing quantum interactions that favor magnetism in one case and superconductivity on the other.”

    Added Aronson, “Having more examples displaying this zero-temperature interplay of superconductivity and magnetism is crucial as we develop a holistic understanding of how these phenomena are related and how we might ultimately control these properties in new generations of materials.”

    Other authors on this study include Liusuo Wu, Moosung Kim, and Keeseong Park, all of Stony Brook University’s Department of Physics and Astronomy.

    The research was conducted at Brookhaven Lab’s Condensed Matter Physics and Materials Science Department and supported by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science (BES).

    BNL Campus

    See the full article here.

    One of ten national laboratories overseen and primarily funded by the Office of Science of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), Brookhaven National Laboratory conducts research in the physical, biomedical, and environmental sciences, as well as in energy technologies and national security. Brookhaven Lab also builds and operates major scientific facilities available to university, industry and government researchers. The Laboratory’s almost 3,000 scientists, engineers, and support staff are joined each year by more than 5,000 visiting researchers from around the world.Brookhaven is operated and managed for DOE’s Office of Science by Brookhaven Science Associates, a limited-liability company founded by Stony Brook University, the largest academic user of Laboratory facilities, and Battelle, a nonprofit, applied science and technology organization.
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