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  • richardmitnick 1:24 pm on November 8, 2014 Permalink | Reply
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    From Daily Galaxy: “Discovery of “Higgs Boson” Points to an Undiscovered Force of Nature” 

    Daily Galaxy
    The Daily Galaxy

    November 08, 2014
    via University of Southern Denmark

    gal.

    Last year CERN [actually announced July 4.2012, editors] announced the finding of a new elementary particle, the Higgs particle. But maybe it wasn’t the Higgs particle, maybe it just looks like it. And maybe it is not alone. Many calculations indicate that the particle discovered last year in the CERN particle accelerator was indeed the famous Higgs particle. Physicists agree that the CERN experiments did find a new particle that had never been seen before, but according to an international research team, there is no conclusive evidence that the particle was indeed the Higgs particle.

    The research team has scrutinized the existing scientific data from CERN about the newfound particle and published their analysis in the journal Physical Review D. A member of this team is Mads Toudal Frandsen, associate professor at the Center for Cosmology and Particle Physics Phenomenology, Department of Physics, Chemistry and Pharmacy at the University of Southern Denmark.

    “The CERN data is generally taken as evidence that the particle is the Higgs particle. It is true that the Higgs particle can explain the data but there can be other explanations, we would also get this data from other particles”, Mads Toudal Frandsen explains.

    The researchers’ analysis does not debunk the possibility that CERN has discovered the Higgs particle. That is still possible – but it is equally possible that it is a different kind of particle. “The current data is not precise enough to determine exactly what the particle is. It could be a number of other known particles”, says Mads Toudal Frandsen.

    But if it wasn’t the Higgs particle, that was found in CERN’s particle accelerator, then what was it? “We believe that it may be a so-called techni-higgs particle. This particle is in some ways similar to the Higgs particle – hence half of the name”, says Mads Toudal Frandsen. Although the techni-higgs particle and Higgs particle can easily be confused in experiments, they are two very different particles belonging to two very different theories of how the universe was created.

    The Higgs particle is the missing piece in the theory called the Standard Model.
    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.

    This theory describes three of the four forces of nature. But it does not explain what dark matter is – the substance that makes up most of the universe. A techni-higgs particle, if it exists, is a completely different thing: “A techni-higgs particle is not an elementary particle. Instead, it consists of so-called techni-quarks, which we believe are elementary. Techni-quarks may bind together in various ways to form for instance techni-higgs particles, while other combinations may form dark matter. We therefore expect to find several different particles at the LHC, all built by techni-quarks”, says Mads Toudal Frandsen.

    CERN LHC Map
    CERN LHC Grand Tunnel
    CERN LHC particles
    LHC at CERN

    If techni-quarks exist, there must be a force to bind them together so that they can form particles. None of the four known forces of nature (gravity, the electromagnetic force, the weak nuclear force and the strong nuclear force) are any good at binding techni-quarks together. There must therefore be a yet undiscovered force of nature. This force is called the the technicolor force.

    What was found last year in CERN’s accelerator could thus be either the Higgs particle of the Standard Model or a light techni-higgs particle, composed of two techni-quarks. Mads Toudal Frandsen believes that more data from CERN will probably be able to determine if it was a Higgs or a techni-higgs particle. If CERN gets an even more powerful accelerator, it will in principle be able to observe techni-quarks directly.

    The rest of the team behind the scientific paper is: Alexander Belyaev and Matthew S. Brown from the University of Southampton, UK and Roshan Foadi from the University of Helsinki, Finland.

    Ref: Technicolor Higgs boson in the light of LHC data. Phys. Rev. D 90, 035012th Alexander Belyaev, Matthew S. Brown, Roshan Foadi, and Mads T. Frandsen.

    Image at top of the page: The Black Eye galaxy is seen in this Hubble Space Telescope image released in 2004. Galaxies behave as if they contain much more mass than is visible to astronomers. NASA and the Hubble Heritage Team (AURA/STScI)

    See the full article here.

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  • richardmitnick 12:56 pm on November 8, 2014 Permalink | Reply
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    From Don Lincoln at Fermilab: “Higgs Boson: The Inside Scoop” 


    Fermilab is an enduring source of strength for the US contribution to scientific research world wide.

    Aug 9, 2013

    FNAL Don Lincoln
    Don Lincoln

    [Don Lincoln is one of the world’s best communicators of High Energy Physics.]

    In July of 2012, physicists found a particle that might be the long-sought Higgs boson. In the intervening months, scientists have worked hard to pin down the identity of this newly-found discovery. In this video, Fermilab’s Dr. Don Lincoln describes researcher’s current understanding of the particle that might be the Higgs. The evidence is quite strong but the final chapter of this story might well require the return of the Large Hadron Collider to full operations in 2015.

    Watch, enjoy, learn.

    See the full video here.

    Fermilab Campus

    Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab), located just outside Batavia, Illinois, near Chicago, is a US Department of Energy national laboratory specializing in high-energy particle physics.

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  • richardmitnick 2:42 pm on October 20, 2014 Permalink | Reply
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    From FNAL: “New high-speed transatlantic network to benefit science collaborations across the U.S.” 


    Fermilab is an enduring source of strength for the US contribution to scientific research world wide.

    Monday, Oct. 20, 2014

    Karen McNulty-Walsh, Brookhaven Media and Communications Office, kmcnulty@bnl.gov, 631-344-8350
    Kurt Riesselmann, Fermilab Office of Communication, media@fnal.gov, 630-840-3351
    Jon Bashor, Computing Sciences Communications Manager, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, jbashor@lbnl.gov, 510-486-5849

    Scientists across the United States will soon have access to new, ultra-high-speed network links spanning the Atlantic Ocean thanks to a project currently under way to extend ESnet (the U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Sciences Network) to Amsterdam, Geneva and London. Although the project is designed to benefit data-intensive science throughout the U.S. national laboratory complex, heaviest users of the new links will be particle physicists conducting research at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), the world’s largest and most powerful particle collider. The high capacity of this new connection will provide U.S. scientists with enhanced access to data at the LHC and other European-based experiments by accelerating the exchange of data sets between institutions in the United States and computing facilities in Europe.

    esnet

    DOE’s Brookhaven National Laboratory and Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory—the primary computing centers for U.S. collaborators on the LHC’s ATLAS and CMS experiments, respectively—will make immediate use of the new network infrastructure once it is rigorously tested and commissioned. Because ESnet, based at DOE’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, interconnects all national laboratories and a number of university-based projects in the United States, tens of thousands of researchers from all disciplines will benefit as well.

    CERN LHC Map
    CERN LHC Grand Tunnel
    CERN LHC particles
    LHC at CERN

    CERN ATLAS New
    ATLAS at the LHC

    CERN CMS New
    CMS at CERN

    BNL Campus
    Brookhaven Lab

    The ESnet extension will be in place before the LHC at CERN in Switzerland—currently shut down for maintenance and upgrades—is up and running again in the spring of 2015. Because the accelerator will be colliding protons at much higher energy, the data output from the detectors will expand considerably—to approximately 40 petabytes of raw data per year compared with 20 petabytes for all of the previous lower-energy collisions produced over the three years of the LHC first run between 2010 and 2012.

    The cross-Atlantic connectivity during the first successful run for the LHC experiments, which culminated in the discovery of the Higgs boson, was provided by the US LHCNet network, managed by the California Institute of Technology. In recent years, major research and education networks around the world—including ESnet, Internet2, California’s CENIC, and European networks such as DANTE, SURFnet and NORDUnet—have increased their backbone capacity by a factor of 10, using sophisticated new optical networking and digital signal processing technologies. Until recently, however, higher-speed links were not deployed for production purposes across the Atlantic Ocean—creating a network “impedance mismatch” that can harm large, intercontinental data flows.

    An evolving data model

    This upgrade coincides with a shift in the data model for LHC science. Previously, data moved in a more predictable and hierarchical pattern strongly influenced by geographical proximity, but network upgrades around the world have now made it possible for data to be fetched and exchanged more flexibly and dynamically. This change enables faster science outcomes and more efficient use of storage and computational power, but it requires networks around the world to perform flawlessly together.

    “Having the new infrastructure in place will meet the increased need for dealing with LHC data and provide more agile access to that data in a much more dynamic fashion than LHC collaborators have had in the past,” said physicist Michael Ernst of DOE’s Brookhaven National Laboratory, a key member of the team laying out the new and more flexible framework for exchanging data between the Worldwide LHC Computing Grid centers.

    Ernst directs a computing facility at Brookhaven Lab that was originally set up as a central hub for U.S. collaborators on the LHC’s ATLAS experiment. A similar facility at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory has played this role for the LHC’s U.S. collaborators on the CMS experiment. These computing resources, dubbed Tier 1 centers, have direct links to the LHC at the European laboratory CERN (Tier 0). The experts who run them will continue to serve scientists under the new structure. But instead of serving as hubs for data storage and distribution only among U.S.-based collaborators at Tier 2 and 3 research centers, the dedicated facilities at Brookhaven and Fermilab will be able to serve data needs of the entire ATLAS and CMS collaborations throughout the world. And likewise, U.S. Tier 2 and Tier 3 research centers will have higher-speed access to Tier 1 and Tier 2 centers in Europe.

    “This new infrastructure will offer LHC researchers at laboratories and universities around the world faster access to important data,” said Fermilab’s Lothar Bauerdick, head of software and computing for the U.S. CMS group. “As the LHC experiments continue to produce exciting results, this important upgrade will let collaborators see and analyze those results better than ever before.”

    Ernst added, “As centralized hubs for handling LHC data, our reliability, performance and expertise have been in demand by the whole collaboration, and now we will be better able to serve the scientists’ needs.”

    An investment in science

    ESnet is funded by DOE’s Office of Science to meet networking needs of DOE labs and science projects. The transatlantic extension represents a financial collaboration, with partial support coming from DOE’s Office of High Energy Physics (HEP) for the next three years. Although LHC scientists will get a dedicated portion of the new network once it is in place, all science programs that make use of ESnet will now have access to faster network links for their data transfers.

    “We are eagerly awaiting the start of commissioning for the new infrastructure,” said Oliver Gutsche, Fermilab scientist and member of the CMS Offline and Computing Management Board. “After the Higgs discovery, the next big LHC milestones will come in 2015, and this network will be indispensable for the success of the LHC Run 2 physics program.”

    This work was supported by the DOE Office of Science.

    The DOE 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.

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  • richardmitnick 1:51 pm on October 15, 2014 Permalink | Reply
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    From Symmetry: “Top quark still raising questions” 

    Symmetry

    October 15, 2014
    Troy Rummler

    Why are scientists still interested in the heaviest fundamental particle nearly 20 years after its discovery?

    “What happens to a quark deferred?” the poet Langston Hughes may have asked, had he been a physicist. If scientists lost interest in a particle after its discovery, much of what it could show us about the universe would remain hidden. A niche of scientists, therefore, stay dedicated to intimately understanding its properties.

    tq
    Photo by Reidar Hahn, Fermilab

    Case in point: Top 2014, an annual workshop on top quark physics, recently convened in Cannes, France, to address the latest questions and scientific results surrounding the heavyweight particle discovered in 1995 (early top quark event pictured above).

    Top and Higgs: a dynamic duo?

    A major question addressed at the workshop, held from September 29 to October 3, was whether top quarks have a special connection with Higgs bosons. The two particles, weighing in at about 173 and 125 billion electronvolts, respectively, dwarf other fundamental particles (the bottom quark, for example, has a mass of about 4 billion electronvolts and a whole proton sits at just below 1 billion electronvolts).

    Prevailing theory dictates that particles gain mass through interactions with the Higgs field, so why do top quarks interact so much more with the Higgs than do any other known particles?

    Direct measurements of top-Higgs interactions depend on recording collisions that produce the two side-by-side. This hasn’t happened yet at high enough rates to be seen; these events theoretically require higher energies than the Tevatron or even the LHC’s initial run could supply. But scientists are hopeful for results from the next run at the LHC.

    “We are already seeing a few tantalizing hints,” says Martijn Mulders, staff scientist at CERN. “After a year of data-taking at the higher energy, we expect to see a clear signal.” No one knows for sure until it happens, though, so Mulders and the rest of the top quark community are waiting anxiously.

    A sensitive probe to new physics

    Top and anti-top quark production at colliders, measured very precisely, started to reveal some deviations from expected values. But in the last year, theorists have responded by calculating an unprecedented layer of mathematical corrections, which refined the expectation and promise to realigned the slightly rogue numbers.

    Precision is an important, ongoing effort. If researchers aren’t able to reconcile such deviations, the logical conclusion is that the difference represents something they don’t know about—new particles, new interactions, new physics beyond the standard model.

    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.

    The challenge of extremely precise measurements can also drive the formation of new research alliances. Earlier this year, the first Fermilab-CERN joint announcement of collaborative results set a world standard for the mass of the top quark.

    CERN LHC Map
    CERN LHC Grand Tunnel
    CERN LHC particles
    LHC at CERN

    Such accuracy hones methods applied to other questions in physics, too, the same way that research on W bosons, discovered in 1983, led to the methods Mulders began using to measure the top quark mass in 2005. In fact, top quark production is now so well controlled that it has become a tool itself to study detectors.
    Forward-backward synergy

    With the upcoming restart in 2015, the LHC will produce millions of top quarks, giving researchers troves of data to further physics. But scientists will still need to factor in the background noise and data-skewing inherent in the instruments themselves, called systematic uncertainty.

    “The CDF and DZero experiments at the Tevatron are mature,” says Andreas Jung, senior postdoc at Fermilab. “It’s shut down, so the understanding of the detectors is very good, and thus the control of systematic uncertainties is also very good.”

    FNALTevatron
    Tevatron at Fermilab

    FNAL CDF
    CDF experiment at the Tevatron

    FNAL DZero
    DZero at the Tevatron

    Jung has been combing through the old data with his colleagues and publishing new results, even though the Tevatron hasn’t collided particles since 2011. The two labs combined their respective strengths to produce their joint results, but scientists still have much to learn about the top quark, and a new arsenal of tools to accomplish it.

    “DZero published a paper in Nature in 2004 about the measurement of the top quark mass that was based on 22 events,” Mulders says. “And now we are working with millions of events. It’s incredible to see how things have evolved over the years.”

    See the full article here.

    Symmetry is a joint Fermilab/SLAC publication.


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  • richardmitnick 12:56 pm on October 3, 2014 Permalink | Reply
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    From FNAL- “Frontier Science Result: CMS Subatomic hydrodynamics” 


    Fermilab is an enduring source of strength for the US contribution to scientific research world wide.

    Friday, Oct. 3, 2014
    This column was written by Don Lincoln
    FNAL Don Lincoln
    Dr. Don Lincoln

    It’s hard for most people to imagine what it’s like at the heart of a particle collision. Two particles speed toward one another from opposite directions and their force fields intertwine, causing some of the particles’ constituents to be ejected. Or possibly the energy embodied in the interaction might be high enough to actually create matter and antimatter. It’s no wonder the whole process seems confusing.

    crash
    The same basic equations that govern the flow of water are important for describing the collisions of lead nuclei. In today’s article, we’ll get a glimpse of how this works.

    Things get a little easier to imagine when the particles are the nuclei of atoms (note that I said easier, not easy). For collisions between two nuclei of lead, one can imagine two small spheres, each containing 208 protons and neutrons, coming together to collide. Depending on the violence of the collision, some or many of the protons and neutrons might figuratively melt, releasing their constituent quarks so they can scurry around willy-nilly. Physicists call this form of matter a quark-gluon plasma, and it acts much like a liquid.

    pro
    The quark structure of the proton. The color assignment of individual quarks is arbitrary, but all three colors must be present. Forces between quarks are mediated by gluons

    neut
    The quark structure of the neutron. The color assignment of individual quarks is arbitrary, but all three colors must be present. Forces between quarks are mediated by gluons

    Part of this liquid-like behavior is due to the fact that so many particles are involved. An LHC collision between two lead nuclei might involve thousands or tens of thousands of particles. Because these particles are quarks and gluons, they experience the strong nuclear force. So as long as they are close enough to each other, the particles interact strongly enough that they clump a bit together. The net outcome is that the flow of particles from collision between lead nuclei looks vaguely like splashes of water. In these cases, the equations of hydrodynamics apply. Mathematical descriptions like these have been used to make sense of other features we see in LHC collisions between lead nuclei.

    glu
    In Feynman diagrams, emitted gluons are represented as helices. This diagram depicts the annihilation of an electron and positron.

    However, there is more to understand. We can imagine collisions between the collective 416 protons and neutrons of lead nuclei as splashes of water, but when a pair of protons collide, the collision doesn’t yield enough particles to exhibit hydrodynamic behavior. So as the number of particles involved goes down, the “splash” behavior must slowly go away. In addition, in the first studies of lead nuclei collisions, only the grossest features of the collision were studied. This is because it is impossible to identify individual quarks and gluons.

    There are ways to dig into these sorts of questions. One way is to look at collisions in which one beam is a proton and the other is a lead nucleus. This is a halfway point between the usual LHC proton-proton collisions and the lead-lead ones. In addition, we can turn our attention to quarks that we can unambiguously identify, such as bottom, charm and strange quarks, to better understand the hydrodynamic behavior.

    In this study, physicists looked at particles containing strange quarks. Since strange quarks don’t exist in the beam protons, studying them gives a unique window into the dynamics of lead-lead collisions. By combining studies of particles with strange quarks in lead-lead and lead-proton collisions, scientists hope to better understand the complicated and liquid-like behavior that is just beginning to reveal its secrets.

    See the full article here.

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  • richardmitnick 8:21 pm on October 2, 2014 Permalink | Reply
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    From LBL: “A Closer Look at the Perfect Fluid” 

    Berkeley Logo

    Berkeley Lab

    October 2, 2014
    Kate Greene 510-486-4404

    Researchers at Berkeley Lab and their collaborators have honed a way to probe the quark-gluon plasma, the kind of matter that dominated the universe immediately after the big bang.

    gp
    A simulated collision of lead ions, courtesy the ALICE experiment at CERN. – See more at: http://newscenter.lbl.gov/2014/10/02/a-closer-look-at-the-perfect-fluid/#sthash.LuD3V5BH.dpuf

    By combining data from two high-energy accelerators, nuclear scientists have refined the measurement of a remarkable property of exotic matter known as quark-gluon plasma. The findings reveal new aspects of the ultra-hot, “perfect fluid” that give clues to the state of the young universe just microseconds after the big bang.

    The multi-institutional team known as the JET Collaboration, led by researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Lab (Berkeley Lab), published their results in a recent issue of Physical Review C. The JET Collaboration is one of the Topical Collaborations in nuclear theory established by the DOE Office of Science in 2010. JET, which stands for Quantitative Jet and Electromagnetic Tomography, aims to study the probes used to investigate high-energy, heavy-ion collisions. The Collaboration currently has 12 participating institutions with Berkeley Lab as the leading institute.

    “We have made, by far, the most precise extraction to date of a key property of the quark-gluon plasma, which reveals the microscopic structure of this almost perfect liquid,” says Xin-Nian Wang, physicist in the Nuclear Science Division at Berkeley Lab and managing principal investigator of the JET Collaboration. Perfect liquids, Wang explains, have the lowest viscosity-to-density ratio allowed by quantum mechanics, which means they essentially flow without friction.

    Hot Plasma Soup

    To create and study the quark-gluon plasma, nuclear scientists used particle accelerators called the Relativistic Heavy-ion Collider (RHIC) at the Brookhaven National Laboratory in New York and the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN in Switzerland. By accelerating heavy atomic nuclei to high energies and blasting them into each other, scientists are able to recreate the hot temperature conditions of the early universe.

    BNL RHIC Campus
    BNL RHIC
    BNL RHIC schematic
    RHIC at BNL

    CERN LHC Map
    CERN LHC Grand Tunnel
    CERN LHC particles
    LHC at CERN

    Inside protons and neutrons that make up the colliding atomic nuclei are elementary particles called quarks, which are bound together tightly by other elementary particles called gluons. Only under extreme conditions, such as collisions in which temperatures exceed by a million times those at the center of the sun, do quarks and gluons pull apart to become the ultra-hot, frictionless perfect fluid known as quark-gluon plasma.

    “The temperature is so high that the boundaries between different nuclei disappear so everything becomes a hot-plasma soup of quarks and gluons,” says Wang. This ultra-hot soup is contained within a chamber in the particle accelerator, but it is short-lived—quickly cooling and expanding—making it a challenge to measure. Experimentalists have developed sophisticated tools to overcome the challenge, but translating experimental observations into precise quantitative understanding of the quark-gluon plasma has been difficult to achieve until now, he says.

    Looking Inside

    In this new work, Wang’s team refined a probe that makes use of a phenomenon researchers at Berkeley Lab first theoretically outlined 20 years ago: energy loss of a high-energy particle, called a jet, inside the quark gluon plasma.

    “When a hot quark-gluon plasma is generated, sometimes you also produce these very energetic particles with an energy a thousand times larger than that of the rest of the matter,” says Wang. This jet propagates through the plasma, scatters, and loses energy on its way out.

    Since the researchers know the energy of the jet when it is produced, and can measure its energy coming out, they can calculate its energy loss, which provides clues to the density of the plasma and the strength of its interaction with the jet. “It’s like an x-ray going through a body so you can see inside,” says Wang.

    we
    Xin Nian Wang, physicist in the Nuclear Science Division at Berkeley Lab and managing principal investigator of the JET Collaboration.

    One difficulty in using a jet as an x-ray of the quark-gluon plasma is the fact that a quark-gluon plasma is a rapidly expanding ball of fire—it doesn’t sit still. “You create this hot fireball that expands very fast as it cools down quickly to ordinary matter,” Wang says. So it’s important to develop a model to accurately describe the expansion of plasma, he says. The model must rely on a branch of theory called relativistic hydrodynamics in which the motion of fluids is described by equations from Einstein’s theory of special relativity.

    Over the past few years, researchers from the JET Collaboration have developed such a model that can describe the process of expansion and the observed phenomena of an ultra-hot perfect fluid. “This allows us to understand how a jet propagates through this dynamic fireball,” says Wang

    Employing this model for the quark-gluon plasma expansion and jet propagation, the researchers analyzed combined data from the PHENIX and STAR experiments at RHIC and the ALICE and CMS experiments at LHC since each accelerator created quark-gluon plasma at different initial temperatures. The team determined one particular property of the quark-gluon plasma, called the jet transport coefficient, which characterizes the strength of interaction between the jet and the ultra-hot matter. “The determined values of the jet transport coefficient can help to shed light on why the ultra-hot matter is the most ideal liquid the universe has ever seen,” Wang says.

    BNL Phenix
    PHENIX at BNL

    BNL Star
    STAR at BNL

    CERN ALICE New
    ALICE at CERN

    CERN CMS New
    CMS at CERN

    Peter Jacobs, head of the experimental group at Berkeley Lab that carried out the first jet and flow measurements with the STAR Collaboration at RHIC, says the new result is “very valuable as a window into the precise nature of the quark gluon plasma. The approach taken by the JET Collaboration to achieve it, by combining efforts of several groups of theorists and experimentalists, shows how to make other precise measurements of properties of the quark gluon plasma in the future.”

    The team’s next steps are to analyze future data at lower RHIC energies and higher LHC energies to see how these temperatures might affect the plasma’s behavior, especially near the phase transition between ordinary matter and the exotic matter of the quark-gluon plasma.

    This work was supported by the DOE Office of Science, Office of Nuclear Physics and used the facilities of the National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center (NERSC) located at Berkeley Lab.

    See the full article here.

    A U.S. Department of Energy National Laboratory Operated by the University of California

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  • richardmitnick 2:04 pm on October 2, 2014 Permalink | Reply
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    From Don Lincoln in Scientific American: “Particle Physics Informs the Ultimate Questions” 

    Scientific American

    Scientific American

    October 1, 2014
    Don Lincoln
    FNAL Don Lincoln
    Dr. Don Lincoln

    Editor’s Note: Author and Fermilab Senior Scientist Don Lincoln is set to teach “Mysteries of the Universe” from October 13 – 24 for Scientific American’s Professional Learning Program. We recently talked with Dr. Lincoln about why he became a physicist and his motivations to share what he discovers.

    When I was a young boy, I was insatiably curious. I must have driven my parents crazy with my incessant questions about why kittens had fur and why the moon was so much dimmer than the sun. I wanted to know the answer to everything. I still do.

    As I grew older, I began to see a pattern. While the answer to the kitten question might have started with biology and the answer to the moon question involved a combination of gravity, fusion and surface reflectivity, these weren’t the final answers. These interim answers led to new questions, which predictably led to atoms, then electrons and nuclei, to protons and neutrons. It became increasingly clear that what I really wanted to know was what [Albert] Einstein poetically called “God’s thoughts.” No matter your opinion on religion, the meaning of the phrase is clear: I wanted to know nothing less than the ultimate building blocks of the universe and the rules that bind them together. I wanted to know why the world was the way it was.

    As I matured intellectually, I came to realize that I wasn’t the first to ask these questions; indeed, they are among the oldest and grandest questions of all. For millennia, they were debated within the confines of philosophy and religion, but this began to change in the mid-1500s as the modern scientific method was being developed. Empirical testing replaced pure logic as the ultimate arbiter of ideas, leading to the approach still followed today.

    The Large Hadron Collider at the CERN laboratory is the world’s highest energy particle accelerator, a title that it is expected to hold for at least the next two decades. In this facility, scientists collide protons together at nearly the speed of light, generating temperatures at which the very idea of matter becomes hazy. Matter and energy convert back and forth, allowing physicists to gain new insights into the birth of the universe.

    CERN LHC Map
    CERN LHC Grand Tunnel
    CERN LHC particles
    LHC at CERN

    For those of us interested in the ultimate questions of the universe, there are really only two fields of interest: cosmology and particle physics. Cosmology deals with the universe as a whole: its birth, evolution and even its death. There is nothing small about cosmology. Particle physics, on the other hand, is concerned with the tiniest objects, the ultimate building blocks of the cosmos, usually studied by smashing two subatomic particles together at prodigious energies.

    These two realms—the grandness of the heavens for as far as we can see with our biggest telescopes and objects so unimaginably tiny that we needed to invent an entirely new form of physics to describe them—are intricately intertwined and the fact that we know this is one of the crowning triumphs of modern physics. Through centuries of effort, we now believe that the universe began about 14 billion years ago, in an awe-inspiring explosion that we call the Big Bang. At the moment of creation, the cosmos was much denser and hotter, with matter bathed in energies comparable to those achievable by modern particle accelerators.

    Using detectors weighing thousands of tons, particle physicists can record the behavior of matter at unprecedented energies and explore the environment last common at the very moment of creation. It was by studying collisions like the one shown here that scientists came to believe that they had discovered the Higgs boson.

    In essence, using a device like the Large Hadron Collider, we can create the conditions of the universe just fractions of a second after the Big Bang.

    While I’d love to know the answers to the ultimate questions of creation, these answers still elude us. So I elected to do the next best thing. I became a scientist and joined a multi-generational journey of discovery. It was through centuries of effort by curious men and women that we have come to our current understanding of the cosmos. In turn, my contemporaries and I are working to add to that long tradition, to write our own page in the book of knowledge, a book whose first pages were penned thousands of years ago. While it is unlikely any of us currently alive will see the final answer, for our brief time on Earth, we will follow the path laid out for us by the scientific greats of the past and point the way for those who come after. We must be satisfied by the wisdom that fulfillment is not about the destination, but in the way that we travel.

    Like many of my colleagues, I have joined the effort to use the Large Hadron Collider, located at the CERN laboratory in Europe, to better understand the behavior of matter under extreme conditions. The temperatures and pressures generated at the LHC haven’t been common since about a tenth of a trillionth of a second after the universe began. We’ve come a long way since our forebears stared at the stars under a clear and moonless sky and wondered. Being part of this community is how I’ve always wanted to live my life. As kids say nowadays, I am living the dream.

    However, for all of the successes of science, you should not think that we’ve understood everything. Far from it. There are many questions for which we don’t know the answer. For instance, we know that ordinary matter makes up only about 4 percent of the matter and energy in the universe. We don’t understand why our universe is made of matter, when we make matter and antimatter in equal quantities. While our current understanding would awe the best scientific minds of a century ago, there are certainly plenty of mysteries left for future generations. If you’re the sort who pestered your parents with questions about kittens and the moon, come join my colleagues and me. You’ll be among friends.

    Don Lincoln About the Author: Don Lincoln is a senior scientist at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory.

    FNALTevatron
    Tevatron at Fermilab

    FNAL Wilson Hall
    Wilson Hall

    When he isn’t exploring the energy frontier, he is busy bringing that information to the public as the author of four books – including the newly released “The Large Hadron Collider: The Extraordinary Story of the Higgs Boson and Other Things That Will Blow Your Mind,” blogs for Nova and Johns Hopkins and numerous magazine articles, including two for Scientific American. He has created a series of You Tube videos and is teaching Mysteries of the Universe for the Professional Learning Program

    See the full article here.

    Scientific American, the oldest continuously published magazine in the U.S., has been bringing its readers unique insights about developments in science and technology for more than 160 years.

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  • richardmitnick 3:29 pm on October 1, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , CERN LHC, , , , ,   

    From FNAL- “Going larger than the Large Hadron Collider: first steps toward a future machine” 


    Fermilab is an enduring source of strength for the US contribution to scientific research world wide.

    Wednesday, Oct. 1, 2014
    Sanjay Padhi, Next Steps in the Energy Frontier workshop co-leader, University of California, San Diego Distinguished LPC Researcher

    In 2012, when scientists at CERN’s Large Hadron Collider discovered the Higgs boson, the machine was colliding particles at an energy of 8 teraelectronvolts, or 8 TeV. Just imagine what a 100-TeV collider could uncover.

    CERN LHC Map
    CERN LHC Grand Tunnel
    CERN LHC particles
    CERN LHC

    That’s what more than 80 scientists in the field of particle physics discussed at a workshop hosted by the LHC Physics Center at Fermilab from Aug. 25-28. Such a collider could unlock profound mysteries of the modern era of physics that remain unanswered. The world’s leading experts in accelerators,detectors and particle physics theory gathered to outline how the community could take the “Next Steps in the Energy Frontier” to address these questions.

    The global community has put forward two possible initiatives for a 100-TeV hadron collider: one based in Beijing, called the Super Proton Proton Collider, and one based at CERN in Geneva, the Future Circular Collider. If built, such a collider would be the largest ever, capable of probing nature at the shortest possible distance ever explored, 10-18 centimeters.

    “No matter what the next few years of experiments — in the lab, underground and in space — will unveil, the direct exploration of the shortest possible distances remains the principal probe of the fundamental laws of nature,” said CERN scientist Michelangelo Mangano. “Preparing for the next step in this endeavor is a duty, and it’s fun!”

    It would also be the first particle accelerator to have decisive coverage of exploring a weakly interacting massive particle [WIMP] dark matter candidate. It would also shed light on the mass scale related to the widely discussed naturalness aspects of nature, the asymmetry between matter and antimatter observed in our universe, rare phenomena associated with Higgs boson productions, and symmetry between matter and forces, among other unresolved matters.

    The workshop provided a platform where leaders from Beijing and CERN discussed in detail for the first time in the United States the issues attendant in realizing the technology required by such a high-energy collider: strong high-field superconducting magnets, including those that can operate at higher temperatures; precise, fast, high-resolution, radiation-hard silicon detectors only 10 to 30 microns thick; imaging energy-measuring calorimeters; next-generation computing frameworks for trigger systems and analyses and other advancements.

    “It was a very special experience to be on the ‘ground floor’ of such a grand, ambitious and worthwhile collective endeavor. The array of theorists and experimentalists at the workshop included the world’s best,” said Raman Sundrum from the University of Maryland.

    As with any innovation, these technological advancements will have an impact beyond fundamental research, benefiting industrial fields in R&D and cost. Indeed, a project of this magnitude will require synergies between various initiatives and provide international collaboration opportunities not only within the scientific communities, but also with industry. Members of the particle physics community plan to continue efforts toward a 100-TeV hadron collider, with the United States playing a central role.

    “This workshop opens a vision for the future of the study of fundamental interactions that points beyond the coming decade, continuing to follow our passion for science,” said workshop co-organizer Meenakshi Narain of Brown University.

    See the full article here.

    Fermilab Campus

    Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab), located just outside Batavia, Illinois, near Chicago, is a US Department of Energy national laboratory specializing in high-energy particle physics.

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  • richardmitnick 7:33 pm on September 21, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , CERN LHC, , , ,   

    From BBC: “‘Artificial retina’ could detect sub-atomic particles” 

    BBC

    18 September 2014
    Melissa Hogenboom

    The human eye has inspired physicists to create a processor that can analyse sub-atomic particle collisions 400 times faster than currently possible.

    In these collisions, protons – ordinary matter – are smashed together at close to light speeds.

    pro
    The quark structure of the proton. The color assignment of individual quarks is arbitrary, but all three colors must be present. Forces between quarks are mediated by gluons

    These powerful smash-ups could yield new particles and help scientists understand matter’s mirror, antimatter.

    anti
    The quark structure of the antiproton

    The experimental processor could speed up the analysis of data from the collisions.

    Published in the pre-print arXiv server, the algorithm has been proposed for possible use in Large Hadron Collider (LHC) experiments at Cern in 2020. It could also be useful in any field where fast, efficient pattern recognition capabilities are needed.

    CERN LHC Grand Tunnel
    LHC

    The processor works in a similar way to the retina’s incredible ability to recognise patterns extremely quickly.
    Snapshots in time

    That is, individual neurons in our retinas are specialised to respond to particular shapes or orientations, which they do automatically before our brain is even consciously aware of what we are processing.

    pd
    Image of particle decay LHC machines produce 40 million collisions per second

    Cern physicist Diego Tonelli, one of a team of collaborators of the work, explained that the “artificial retina” detects a snapshot of the trajectory of each collision which is then immediately analysed.

    These snapshots are then mapped into an algorithm that can run on a computer, automatically scanning and analysing the charged particle trajectories, or tracks. Exposing the detector to future collisions will then allow teams sift out the interesting events.

    Data crunching

    Speed is of the essence here. There are roughly 40 million collisions per second and each can result in hundreds of charged particles.

    The scientists then have to plough through an incredible amount of data. It’s spotting the deviations from the norm that may give hints of new physics.

    lhcb
    LHCb experiment
    The LHC will be switched on again in early 2015

    An algorithm like this could therefore provide a useful way of crunching through this vast amount of data, in real time.

    “It’s 400 times faster than anything existing or foreseen for high energy physics applications. If implemented in a real experiment it will allow us to collect more interesting data more quickly,” Dr Tonelli told the BBC.

    Flavour physics

    The LHC has been switched off since February 2013 but is due to begin its hunt for new physics in 2015 when the giant machine will once again begin smashing together protons.

    As this happens, they break down and free up a huge amounts of energy that forms many neutral and charged particles. It’s the trajectories of the charged ones that can be observed.

    col
    Particle collisions
    A collision in the Large Hadron Collider creates tracks of charged particles

    The new algorithm is not aimed at the type of physics used to find the famous Higgs boson, instead it’s intended to be used for “flavour physics” which deals with the interaction of the basic components of matter, the quarks.

    Commenting on the work, Tara Shears a Cern particle physicist from the University of Liverpool, said it could be extremely useful to automatically “give us most information about what we want to study – Higgs, dark matter, antimatter and so on. The artificial retina algorithm looks like it does this brilliantly”.

    “When our detectors take these snapshots of the collisions – to us that’s like the picture that your eye sees and when your brain is scanning that picture and making sense of it, well we try and codify those rules into an algorithm that we run on computers that do the job for us automatically,” Prof Shears told the BBC’s Inside Science programme.

    “When the LHC continues… we will start to operate with a more intense beam of protons getting a much higher data rate, and then this problem of sifting out what you really want to study becomes really really pressing,” she added.

    “This artificial retinal algorithm is one of the latest steps in our mission to [understand the Universe], and it’s really good, it does the job vast banks of computers normally do.”

    The algorithm has been developed with the 2020 upgrade of the LHC in mind, which will have even more powerful collisions.

    See the full article here.

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  • richardmitnick 7:04 pm on September 21, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , CERN LHC, , ,   

    From physicsworld: “A day in the life of CERN’s director-general” 

    physicsworld
    physicsworld.com

    Sep 16, 2014
    By Rolf-Dieter Heuer, Geneva

    There is no such thing as a typical day in the life of a CERN director-general (DG), certainly not this one in any case. In my experience, each incumbent has carved out a slightly different role for themself, shaped by the laboratory’s priorities and activities at the time of their mandate. For me, every day goes beyond science, management and administration, and I am particularly fortunate to have been DG through a remarkable period that has seen not only the successful launch of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) and confirmation of the Brout–Englert–Higgs mechanism, but also an opening of CERN to the world – an area that I have pursued with particular vigour.

    CERN LHC Grand Tunnel
    CERN LHC Map
    CERN LHC particles
    LHC at CERN

    dg
    All in a day’s work. (Courtesy: CERN)

    As I regularly joke, we have changed the “E” of CERN from “Europe” to “Everywhere”, and that has meant a lot of travel for the CERN DG, as we hold discussions with prospective new members of the CERN family. And when the CERN Council opened up membership to countries from beyond the European region in 2010, it seemed to me that we should also be extending our contacts in other directions as well.

    For that reason, I have taken up the CERN DG’s standing invitation to attend the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Davos, where I strive to get science further up the agenda, and I have actively pursued a policy of engagement with other international organizations. CERN’s host city is home to a concentration of international organizations like nowhere else on Earth, and our missions overlap in areas ranging from technology to standards to intellectual property. A typical day might see me paying a visit to the United Nations Office in Geneva, or receiving a visit from the ambassador of an existing or prospective CERN member state.

    But the role goes beyond one of diplomacy. The CERN DG has, first and foremost, a lab to run. Although I have a strong team of directors and department leaders to help me, issues ranging from liaison between experiments to delicate issues in human resources or dealings with officials from our two host states – France and Switzerland – find their way to my door. Each year is punctuated by fixed points for the meetings of advisory and governance bodies, for directorate meetings and presentations to personnel.

    With all this going on, there is no typical day, so I’ll describe the most untypical of all during my term of office: Wednesday 4 July 2012.

    I’d been told that people were so keen to have a seat in CERN’s main auditorium for that day’s Higgs-update seminar that some were prepared to camp out all night to secure their place, so I came in early to see if it were true. I expected to see a few hardy souls at 7 a.m., but not the long snaking queue, headed up by sleeping bags, that started outside the doors of the auditorium, carried on all the way along corridors and ended up down the stairs in main entrance lobby. The atmosphere was reserved, yet excited, with an air of expectation about it. I went up to my office to prepare my notes and gather my thoughts.

    We had not known until the last minute whether or not we would be announcing a discovery or just another step on the way. Yet the world was expectant. Peter Higgs and François Englert were at CERN, as were Gerry Guralnik and Carl Hagen – two of the three authors of the other pioneering paper from the 1960s that had anticipated what we now know as the Brout–Englert–Higgs mechanism. Robert Brout, unfortunately, did not live to see the confirmation of his ideas, while Tom Kibble – Guralnik and Hagen’s co-author – was at a parallel event in London. The press were also there in force, and the CERN Council’s meeting room was converted into a media centre for the day.

    Although just a few days earlier I didn’t know what message I’d be bringing to the expectant crowd, at 7 a.m. that day I had what I needed to announce a discovery. Over the preceding weeks and days, Fabiola Gianotti and Joe Incandela had each kept me up to date with the status of the analyses from the ATLAS and CMS experiments of which they were the spokespersons, and by the Friday before the seminar, I’d seen enough. Although by that time neither experiment was sure they’d be able to announce the required 5σ significance needed to claim discovery, I’d seen both experiment’s results, and that was enough for me to know that taken together the 5σ would be reached.

    CERN ATLAS New
    ATLAS

    CERN CMS New
    CMS

    rdh
    Wednesday 4 July 2012 was an extraordinary day. (Courtesy: CERN)

    By the time I went back down to the auditorium, the doors had been opened and people had taken their seats, yet the crowd outside seemed even bigger than before. Inside the room, the mood was an unusual mixture of party and scientific seminar. We were being watched around the world: nearly half a million people tuned in to the webcast, I’m told, and we had a room full of physicists in Melbourne assembled there on the eve of that year’s major particle-physics conference, beamed to a screen above my head. It culminated in joyous scenes as the experiments announced their results: as it turned out, they didn’t need me to announce the discovery. Peter Higgs, sitting next to François Englert whom he’d met for the first time that day, had a smile on his face that said it all.

    The seminar was over, but for me the day was just beginning. Fabiola, Joe and I were ushered into the media centre for a press conference, in which the theorists were given a front-row seat. Once the media scrum has subsided and Peter Higgs had graciously led the theorists in saying that this was a day for the experiments and there’d be time to talk to him later, the three of us recounted the story all over again before spending the day giving interview after interview.

    Eventually, the cameras stopped clicking, the microphones were put back in their bags, and it was time to head off for the airport to catch my flight to Melbourne for the conference. It was only when I got on the plane and ordered a glass of champagne that the enormity of the day sunk in. It had been an incredible day, full of emotion, leaving me happy not only with the result, but also with that fact that it had so strongly captured the world’s imagination.

    A day in the life of the CERN DG? Always challenging, sometimes exhausting, frequently frustrating but always rewarding. And although 4 July 2012 may not have been a typical day, it is for me one of the most memorable of all.

    See the full article here.

    PhysicsWorld is a publication of the Institute of Physics. The Institute of Physics is a leading scientific society. We are a charitable organisation with a worldwide membership of more than 50,000, working together to advance physics education, research and application.

    We engage with policymakers and the general public to develop awareness and understanding of the value of physics and, through IOP Publishing, we are world leaders in professional scientific communications.
    IOP Institute of Physics

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