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  • richardmitnick 3:52 pm on April 9, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Applied Research & Technology, , , , , Superconducting electron gun   

    From SLAC: “SLAC Produces First Electron Beam with Superconducting Electron Gun” 

    SLAC Lab

    Image of the first electron beam (bright colors) produced with a superconducting electron gun at SLAC and analyzed with an energy spectrometer. The beam energy was more than a million electronvolts. (SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory)

    April 9, 2018
    Manuel Gnida

    Making a high-quality beam of high-energy electrons starts with an electron gun: It knocks electrons out of atoms with a laser beam so they can be accelerated to nearly the speed of light for experiments that explore nature’s fastest atomic processes.

    Now accelerator scientists at the Department of Energy’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory are testing a new type of electron gun for a future generation of instruments that take snapshots of the atomic world in never-before-seen quality and detail, with applications in chemistry, biology, energy and materials science.

    Unlike other electron sources at SLAC, the new one is superconducting: When chilled to extremely low temperatures, some of its key components conduct electricity with nearly 100 percent efficiency. This allows it to produce superior, almost continuous electron beams that will be needed for future high-energy X-ray lasers and ultrafast electron microscopes. The new superconducting electron gun recently produced its first beam of electrons at SLAC.

    “This is an important milestone,” says Xijie Wang, who leads the project. “The use of superconducting accelerator technology represents the beginning of a new era at the lab that will create unforeseen research opportunities, and will keep us at the forefront of science for decades to come.”

    SLAC’s accelerator scientists are testing a superconducting electron gun (inside the large vessel at center), a new type of electron source that could be used in next-generation X-ray lasers and ultrafast electron microscopes. (Dawn Harmer/SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory)

    A Superior Electron Source

    At SLAC and other labs, beams of high-energy electrons are used as tools to precisely examine the atomic fabric of our world and to look at atomic-scale processes that occur within femtoseconds, or millionths of a billionth of a second. The beams are used directly, in instruments for ultrafast electron diffraction and microscopy (UED/UEM), or indirectly in X-ray lasers like SLAC’s Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS), where the energy of the electron beam is converted into powerful X-ray light.


    In both approaches, the electrons are produced with an electron gun. It consists of a photocathode, where electrons are released when a metal is hit by a laser pulse; a hollow metal cavity, which accelerates the electrons with a radiofrequency field; and a magnetic lens that bundles the electrons into a tight beam.

    Conventional electron guns use cavities made of normal-conducting metals like copper. But the new device’s cavity is made of niobium, which becomes superconducting at temperatures close to absolute zero. Several groups around the world are actively pursuing the superconducting technology for next-generation particle accelerators and X-ray lasers.

    “Superconducting electron guns have the potential to outperform current guns,” says accelerator physicist Theodore Vecchione, coordinator of the SLAC project. “For instance, while the electron gun that’s being installed as part of the future LCLS-II will generate electron pulses at an extremely high repetition rate, the superconducting gun should be able to produce similar pulses at four times higher beam energy.

    SLAC/LCLS II projected view

    It should also be able to achieve twice the beam acceleration over a given distance, producing a tighter beam of electrons with extraordinary average brightness.”

    SLAC schematic of superconducting electron gun

    LCLS-II will already use superconducting cryomodules to bring electrons up to speed, which will allow the X-ray laser to fire 8,000 times faster after the upgrade. A superconducting electron gun could be ready for a future high-energy upgrade that would further enhance its scientific potential.

    “In addition to advancing X-ray science, the superconducting technology could also turn into an electron source for the UED/UEM techniques we’re developing,” says SLAC accelerator physicist Renkai Li. “It would further improve the quality of atomic-level images and movies we’re able to capture now.”

    A Top R&D Priority

    The SLAC team is testing a superconducting gun that was originally built for a project at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. About two years ago, the DOE relocated the gun to SLAC, asking the lab to recommission it for R&D work in the field of future electron sources.

    “There is a lot of excitement at the lab and the DOE about the opportunity to develop the superconducting technology into something that will drive future applications that require powerful electron beams,” says Bruce Dunham, associate lab director for SLAC’s Accelerator Directorate. “It’s very exciting to see the new gun produce its first electron beam, as it represents the very first step toward that future.”

    Over the past few months, the team installed the gun at SLAC’s Next Linear Collider Test Accelerator (NLCTA) facility and built an experimental setup with diagnostics needed to analyze the generated electron beam. “This successful effort involved many different groups around the lab, including people working on lasers, metrology, vacuum and controls,” says Keith Jobe, the NLCTA facility manager. “We’re also grateful to Bob Legg and other members of the original Wisconsin team, who were very helpful in getting this effort underway here.”

    Now that the team has demonstrated the superconducting gun is working and capable of producing electron beams with energies above a million electronvolts, they are planning their next steps. They first want to make a number of upgrades to improve the gun’s performance, including an overhaul of its refrigeration system. Then, they will be ready to push the technology to higher beam energies that could pave the way for future applications.

    The project is funded by the DOE Office of Science. LCLS is a DOE Office of Science user facility.

    See the full article here .

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    SLAC Campus
    SLAC is a multi-program laboratory exploring frontier questions in photon science, astrophysics, particle physics and accelerator research. Located in Menlo Park, California, SLAC is operated by Stanford University for the DOE’s Office of Science.

  • richardmitnick 1:18 pm on April 9, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Applied Research & Technology, , Kurzgesagt, , , This Stunning Video on The History of Time Will Make You Have Feelings About The Entire Universe   

    From Science Alert: “This Stunning Video on The History of Time Will Make You Have Feelings About The Entire Universe” 


    Science Alert

    9 APR 2018


    You need to see this.

    Although we use it every day, time is complicated.

    When we break it up into small pieces, most people are pretty good at organising time, but everything starts to get a bit wobbly when the timescales get larger.

    If you keep zooming out on the history of the Universe, at a certain point time becomes simply incomprehensible for our puny human brains.

    The team at Kurzgesagt has just released a new animated video to help explain time, with a timescale that will give you exceptionally weird feelings about the vastness of it all.

    “Time makes sense in small pieces,” they begin. “But when you look at large stretches of time, it’s almost impossible to wrap your head around things.”

    A lot of amazing things have happened just in 2018 alone, but even the 21st century is starting to get on.

    Someone born at the start of the year 2000 (the year The Sims first came out) is now 18 – old enough to buy a drink nearly everywhere in the world.

    As the video above explains, the oldest person living today was born closer to Napoleon’s rule over France than to the present day.

    Even the advancement of science is mind-boggling – it’s only been 160 years since Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species, the modern cornerstone of our understanding of the basics of evolution. Modern physics isn’t that much older.

    It gets even weirder when you start thinking about how relatively recent industrialisation was, considering how long human ancestors have been walking around Earth.

    And that’s just humans.

    Dinosaurs ruled Earth for 27 times as long as all of human history.

    We’ll leave Kurzgesagt to explain what happens when you get to the stunningly large time scales of the cosmos in its entirety – and what will happen when it all ceases to exist. Thankfully, they point out it’s not quite the end of the world (or Universe) quite yet.

    “The good news is, this is all far far away. The only time that actually matters is now,” they explain in the video.

    “Time is precious… make it count!”

    See the full article here .

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  • richardmitnick 1:03 pm on April 9, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Applied Research & Technology, Physicists Just Discovered an Entirely New Type of Superconductivity, , , ,   

    From University of Maryland via Science Alert: “Physicists Just Discovered an Entirely New Type of Superconductivity “ 

    U Maryland bloc

    University of Maryland

    Science Alert

    9 APR 2018

    “No one thought this was possible in solid materials.”

    (Emily Edwards, University of Maryland)

    One of the ultimate goals of modern physics is to unlock the power of superconductivity, where electricity flows with zero resistance at room temperature.

    Progress has been slow, but physicists have just made an unexpected breakthrough. They’ve discovered a superconductor that works in a way no one’s ever seen before – and it opens the door to a whole world of possibilities not considered until now.

    In other words, they’ve identified a brand new type of superconductivity.

    Why does that matter? Well, when electricity normally flows through a material – for example, the way it travels through wires in the wall when we switch on a light – it’s fast, but surprisingly ineffective.

    Electricity is carried by electrons, which bump into atoms in the material along the way, losing some of their energy each time they have one of these collisions. Known as resistance, it’s the reason why electricity grids lose up to 7 percent of their electricity.

    But when some materials are chilled to ridiculously cold temperatures, something else happens – the electrons pair up, and begin to flow orderly without resistance.

    This is known as superconductivity, and it has incredible potential to revolutionise our world, making our electronics unimaginably more efficient.

    The good news is we’ve found the phenomenon in many materials so far. In fact, superconductivity is already used to create the strong magnetic fields in MRI machines and maglev trains.

    The bad news is that it currently requires expensive and bulky equipment to keep the superconductors cold enough to achieve this phenomenon – so it remains impractical for broader use.

    Now researchers led by the University of Maryland have observed a new type of superconductivity when probing an exotic material at super cool temperatures.

    Not only does this type of superconductivity appear in an unexpected material, the phenomenon actually seems to rely on electron interactions that are profoundly different from the pairings we’ve seen to date. And that means we have no idea what kind of potential it might have.

    To understand the difference, you need to know that the way electrons interact is dictated by a quantum property called spin.

    In regular superconductors, electrons carry a spin referred to as 1/2.

    But in this particular material, known as YPtBi, the team found that something else was going on – the electrons appear to have a spin of 3/2.

    “No one had really thought that this was possible in solid materials,” explains physicist and senior author Johnpierre Paglione.

    “High-spin states in individual atoms are possible but once you put the atoms together in a solid, these states usually break apart and you end up with spin one-half. ”

    YPtBi was first discovered to be a superconductor a couple of years ago, and that in itself was a surprise, because the material doesn’t actually fit one of the main criteria – being a relatively good conductor, with a lot of mobile electrons, at normal temperatures.

    According to conventional theory, YPtBi would need about a thousand times more mobile electrons in order to become superconducting at temperatures below 0.8 Kelvin.

    But when researchers cooled the material down, they saw superconductivity happening anyway.

    To figure out what was going on, the latest study looked at the way the material interacted with magnetic fields to get a sense of exactly what was going on inside.

    Usually as a material undergoes the transition to a superconductor, it will try to expel any added magnetic field from its surface – but a magnetic field can still enter near, before quickly decaying away. How far they penetrate depends on the nature of the electron pairing happening within.

    The team used copper coils to detect changes in YPtBi’s magnetic properties as they changed its temperature.

    What they found was odd – as the material warmed up from absolute zero, the amount that a magnetic field could penetrate the material increased linearly instead of exponentially, which is what is normally seen with superconductors.

    After running a series of measurements and calculations, the researched concluded that the best explanation for what was going on was that the electrons must have been disguised as particles with higher spin – something that wasn’t even considered as a possibility for a superconductor before.

    While this new type of superconductivity still requires incredibly cold temperatures for now, the discovery gives the entire field a whole new direction.

    “We used to be confined to pairing with spin one-half particles,” says lead author Hyunsoo Kim.

    “But if we start considering higher spin, then the landscape of this superconducting research expands and just gets more interesting.”

    This is incredibly early days, and there’s still a lot we have to learn about exactly what’s going on here.

    But the fact that we have a brand new type of superconductivity to test and measure, adding a cool new breakthrough to the 100 years of this type of research, is pretty exciting.

    “When you have this high-spin pairing, what’s the glue that holds these pairs together?” says Paglione.

    “There are some ideas of what might be happening, but fundamental questions remain-which makes it even more fascinating.”

    The research has been published in Science Advances.

    See the full article here .

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    U Maryland Campus

    Driven by the pursuit of excellence, the University of Maryland has enjoyed a remarkable rise in accomplishment and reputation over the past two decades. By any measure, Maryland is now one of the nation’s preeminent public research universities and on a path to become one of the world’s best. To fulfill this promise, we must capitalize on our momentum, fully exploit our competitive advantages, and pursue ambitious goals with great discipline and entrepreneurial spirit. This promise is within reach. This strategic plan is our working agenda.

    The plan is comprehensive, bold, and action oriented. It sets forth a vision of the University as an institution unmatched in its capacity to attract talent, address the most important issues of our time, and produce the leaders of tomorrow. The plan will guide the investment of our human and material resources as we strengthen our undergraduate and graduate programs and expand research, outreach and partnerships, become a truly international center, and enhance our surrounding community.

    Our success will benefit Maryland in the near and long term, strengthen the State’s competitive capacity in a challenging and changing environment and enrich the economic, social and cultural life of the region. We will be a catalyst for progress, the State’s most valuable asset, and an indispensable contributor to the nation’s well-being. Achieving the goals of Transforming Maryland requires broad-based and sustained support from our extended community. We ask our stakeholders to join with us to make the University an institution of world-class quality with world-wide reach and unparalleled impact as it serves the people and the state of Maryland.

  • richardmitnick 12:38 pm on April 9, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Applied Research & Technology, , , Project SEARCH,   

    From University of Washington: “‘Differences can be a part of their skills’: Pilot program at UW offers on-the-job training for young adults with autism” 

    U Washington

    University of Washington

    April 4, 2018
    Kim Eckart

    Project SEARCH intern Alan Chen helps organize the library in the Department of Classics in Denny Hall. The books had been boxed up during the Denny renovation, and with Chen’s help, “The collection is in the best shape it’s been in since we moved,” said Doug Machle, assistant to the department chair.Mark Stone / U. of Washington.

    The sky is grey, the breeze is chilly, and Matthew Skelly, decked out in a fleece vest and work boots, is pushing a contraption called a picker around the University of Washington driving range.

    Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of golf balls polka-dot the field. And four mornings a week, before the range opens, 21-year-old Skelly is one of two people assigned to collect them with the picker, a device like a push mower that traps the balls in its wheel and rolls them into a bucket. The picker squeaks as Skelly rolls it over the grass and through the mud, and sometimes he has to retrieve by hand the balls that miss its grab. By mid-morning, when folks show up with their clubs, he’ll have to move on to yard work.

    “There are a lot of balls, and sometimes I don’t get them all,” he said. “But I like being outside. I like moving around.”

    Skelly’s job at the driving range is an internship, his third this academic year, and he’s liked something about each of them: the responsibility of maintenance work at Transportation Services back in the fall, and, during winter quarter, the office environment of the Speech and Hearing Clinic, where he honed his ability to organize. The program’s three-internship structure has given Skelly, who is on the autism spectrum, skills that can translate to other jobs as he begins looking for full-time work later this spring.

    That’s the goal of Project SEARCH, a national initiative that is piloting its autism-focused, school-to-work model at the UW this academic year. At 10 locations on campus over the course of the year, the UW has hosted young adults with autism from the community in unpaid, part-time internships. The program partners the UW with the state Division of Vocational Rehabilitation, Seattle Public Schools and PROVAIL, a local nonprofit that helps people with disabilities find jobs and gain life skills.

    Here at the UW, seven young men and women, all ages 20 or 21, are in the final quarter of their internship experience. Having received special education services through Seattle Public Schools, they are entitled, through age 21, to receive post-high school supports such as this from the district. Now, as the interns look to the future, one or two may pursue community college in the fall. A few talk of living independently someday. All hope to land a paying job, doing something they feel comfortable with and enjoy.

    “At the end of this, we want these students to be able to put on their resume that they had these different experiences and job skills,” said Jill Locke, a research assistant professor in the UW Department of Speech and Hearing Sciences and the campus liaison to Project SEARCH. “Project SEARCH is providing them with practical experience and on-the-job training. When they go to their paid job in the real world, they will be better prepared and ready to work.”

    A job for money, and for pride

    For someone on the autism spectrum, finding and keeping a job can be a challenge.

    According to Drexel University’s 2015 National Autism Indicators Report, 58 percent of young adults on the spectrum — after high school, before their early 20s — have had a paying job outside the home.

    Project SEARCH, which started in the mid-1990s at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center to improve the job prospects of people with developmental disabilities, launched a pilot study of an autism-focused approach at three sites on the East Coast in 2016 and expanded to the UW in 2017.

    Matthew Skelly, an intern with project SEARCH, retrieves golf balls four mornings a week at the UW driving range. “In middle school, my dream job was to be a bus driver,” Skelly explained. “Then I decided I wanted to be a flight attendant. This program helped me learn what else I might want to do for a job.”Mark Stone / U. of Washington.

    Autism presents a unique set of circumstances, advocates say. People on the spectrum often demonstrate an interest in or knack for a particular topic or job type, but they may need practice in some of the soft skills so critical to today’s workplaces: multitasking, adapting to new practices, joining a team environment, and recognizing conversational cues and other social norms.

    Universities can be tough sites to break into with a program like this, explained Project SEARCH’s Elizabeth Falk, because of their size, the requirements of various jobs and in some cases, the complications of contracts and vendors. The UW was chosen because of support from the university and its local partners, and because of its proximity to large technology companies such as Microsoft that have developed autism hiring programs of their own, Falk said. As part of the pilot, Falk is studying employment outcomes: what skills the interns acquired, how the host sites and partner agencies provided support, and whether interns ultimately found a paying job.

    Among people with autism, having a job produces both practical and less tangible results, said Dr. Gary Stobbe, director of UW Medicine’s Adult Autism Clinic.

    “Individuals with employment make ongoing progress. Their autism symptoms lessen, and that appears to be related to the opportunity to socially engage and continue to learn,” said Stobbe, who was involved in bringing the Project SEARCH Autism Enhancement model to the UW main campus. “We all learn a lot on the job. For people with autism, it’s about interacting with people. Having a job almost becomes part of the treatment in the adult years.”

    It’s helpful for other people in the workplace, too, Stobbe added, because they adapt. Fear and misunderstanding of differences erode. Rather than pushing people with autism to become something they’re not, how about meeting them halfway?

    “We need to embrace and welcome their differences, because differences can be a part of their skills,” he said.

    Seattle-based PROVAIL is the nonprofit agency charged with helping the Project SEARCH interns transition from high school to employment. The post-high school phase is critical to future success, said Michael Goodwill, the organization’s head of transition services. While special education students continue to receive support services from their school district, they can explore their job interests, thus increasing the odds of continued employment. Indeed, the National Autism Indicators Report shows that 90 percent of people with autism who worked during their teens went on to have a job in their 20s.

    “Schools and support systems are recognizing the value of making these opportunities happen for youth before they exit school. Our data show that retention is better when those systems get involved before students leave,” Goodwill said. Students participating in Project SEARCH have a support team that helps make for a smoother transition between school and workplace.

    “It’s bridging the gap between these big milestones in a person’s life,” Goodwill added.

    The liaisons with PROVAIL and Seattle Public Schools try to match the Project SEARCH internship with the person, their interests and challenges. They lead the interns in a group meeting every morning to discuss the day’s itinerary and upcoming tasks, and again in the afternoons to debrief.

    Serving the UW community

    At the UW, interns start a new job each quarter to gain skills for and understanding of different work environments. Transportation Services assigned an intern to tackle maintenance at Central Plaza Garage; the Department of Communication needed someone to help check out camera equipment to students; and the Speech and Hearing Clinic needed an extra hand to inventory books for children, just to name a few.

    David Rahbee, director of orchestral activities and conductor of the UW Symphony, had his own long-planned project: creating a database of high school orchestra directors in Washington and nearby states. There was a Project SEARCH intern for that, too.

    When Rahbee first heard about Project SEARCH, he said, he wondered if his task would be appropriate. Then he talked to intern Alan Chen. “He showed he could do all of it,” Rahbee said.

    And more. Chen, 20, managed the project mostly on his own and expanded it to six other western states. From there, he moved to other internships during winter and spring quarter — the first in the Department of Classics, the second in the Center for the Studies of Demography and Ecology. But he continued to work on a second database for Rahbee, this one of youth orchestras.

    “The work he did makes it possible for me to reach more people,” Rahbee said. “The success of our orchestra program depends on the participation of non-music majors. The more high school music programs I can reach out to about our program, the more we will grow, and our orchestras will be stronger,” he said. “At the same time, finding things for these students to do so that they can feel good about their work is important.”

    Before the Speech and Hearing Clinic’s first intern arrived last fall, staff had a wish list of possible job tasks, which they were able to tailor to the intern’s strengths, clinic manager Julianne Siebens said. In the winter, when Matthew Skelly came aboard, the assignment went a slightly different direction, thanks to his data-entry skills. But coming up with plans was a fun challenge.

    “The key is to be flexible with expectations and willing to think creatively,” Siebens said.

    To Locke, the Speech and Hearing Sciences faculty member who serves as a liaison to Project SEARCH, the program helps improve diversity and inclusion on campus.

    “When we think of diversity, the first thing that often comes to mind is race and ethnicity. But disability also is part of diversity,” she said. “Project SEARCH is an opportunity to highlight how valuable students with autism are in the workplace, which brings more value to the university as a whole. There are benefits for everyone involved when we have a really strong mission of inclusion.”

    Back at the driving range, Skelly considered how the program has helped him toward his ultimate career goal: flight attendant. He works part-time as a barista at a West Seattle Starbucks and, thanks to the UW internships, he’s learned what other opportunities are out there. He said he’s also figured out how he works, and what he likes: moving, not sitting, and interacting with other people. Customer service, really — something those who’ve worked with him at all his internships say he’s especially good at.

    It was nearing 10 a.m., so Skelly stepped inside and flipped the sign in the window to “open.” Time to get back to work.

    See the full article here .

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    The University of Washington is one of the world’s preeminent public universities. Our impact on individuals, on our region, and on the world is profound — whether we are launching young people into a boundless future or confronting the grand challenges of our time through undaunted research and scholarship. Ranked number 10 in the world in Shanghai Jiao Tong University rankings and educating more than 54,000 students annually, our students and faculty work together to turn ideas into impact and in the process transform lives and our world. For more about our impact on the world, every day.
    So what defines us —the students, faculty and community members at the University of Washington? Above all, it’s our belief in possibility and our unshakable optimism. It’s a connection to others, both near and far. It’s a hunger that pushes us to tackle challenges and pursue progress. It’s the conviction that together we can create a world of good. Join us on the journey.

  • richardmitnick 10:54 am on April 6, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: AGU-American Geophysical Union, Applied Research & Technology, CASSIOPE/e-POP satellite, CSA- Canadian Space Agency, , , How Heavy Oxygen Ions Escape Earth’s Gravity   

    From Eos: “How Heavy Oxygen Ions Escape Earth’s Gravity” 

    Eos news bloc


    5 April 2018
    Emily Underwood

    A new study reveals that low-frequency electromagnetic waves accompany intense heating events at low altitudes.

    CASSIOPE/e-POP satellite passing over Earth’s nightside aurora. Credit: Canadian Space Agency

    “CAScade, Smallsat and IOnospheric Polar Explorer” (CASSIOPE) is a made-in-Canada small satellite from the Canadian Space Agency. It is comprised of three working elements that use the first multi-purpose small satellite platform from the Canadian Small Satellite Bus Program. This generic, low-cost platform carries two payloads: e-POP, a scientific payload consisting of eight high-resolution instruments used to probe the characteristics of near-Earth space, and Cascade, a high data rate, high capacity store and forward technology payload from MDA Corporation.

    Together, e-POP and Cascade achieve both a scientific and a commercial objective: e-POP is providing scientists with unprecedented details about the Earth’s ionosphere, thermosphere and magnetosphere, helping scientists understand the cause and effects of potentially dangerous space weather, while Cascade demonstrates a new digital communications ‘courier’ service provided by MDA.

    CASSIOPE is hexagonal in shape, measuring just 180 cm corner-to-corner and 125 cm high and weighing in at just over 500 kg. Partners in the mission include the University of Calgary, Commuications Research Centre in Ottawa, Magellan Aerospace of Winnipeg, and MDA of Richmond, B.C., the prime contractor for the overall mission.

    See also the CASSIOPE/e-POP quick fact sheet.

    The e-POP instruments are supported by Cascade, the companion commercial payload on CASSIOPE, which permits the on-board storage of up to 75 GB of e-POP data. This data can be downlinked to the ground at a rate of over 300 Mbits/s, allowing the e-POP payload to capture up to 15 GB per day of valuable scientific data.

    Cascade demonstrates the capability to deliver Giga packages of data from anywhere on Earth in one day. The Cascade service is not much different from the operations of a normal courier company – pick the parcel up at close of business, carry it via truck, plane or other means, and deliver it before work starts the next day. The difference is that Cascade will replace the truck by a small satellite and the packages are digital data files. Cascade addresses a niche for a particular type of communication service currently not met by any other system. Customers for this service share a common need for global, routine daily pickup and delivery of very large digital data files – 50 to 500 Gigabytes at a time. Data can originate from (or be destined for) sites located anywhere in the world. The system is designed to meet the needs of remote commercial, civil and military clients with large-scale data transfer requirements.

    For further information, please visit MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates Ltd.

    On 17 December 1971, scientists observed a bizarre new phenomenon in the outermost region of Earth’s atmosphere, where the planet’s magnetic field orchestrates the flow of charged particles and produces such phenomena as auroras.

    Magnetosphere of Earth, original bitmap from NASA. SVG rendering by Aaron Kaase

    In the midst of a massive geomagnetic storm induced by a surge of solar radiation, satellites detected large flows of heavy oxygen (O+) ions streaming away from Earth, seemingly in defiance of gravity. Ever since, scientists have been trying to figure out what propelled the ions, in part because disturbances in this zone—known as the ionosphere—can disrupt communication systems. A new study by Shen et al.[Journal of Geophysical Research] reveals for the first time how low-altitude electromagnetic waves help launch these ions toward outer space.

    Normally, the upward diffusion of O+ ions in Earth’s ionosphere is balanced by gravity, resulting in a state of equilibrium. Surges of energy from the Sun can disrupt this balance, however, causing flows of plasma that can hurtle outward like a fountain, then fall back toward Earth. To investigate how O+ ions become energized enough to escape Earth’s gravity, the researchers used measurements from the Canadian-based CASSIOPE satellite. One of CASSIOPE’s missions is to become the world’s first commercial space-based digital courier service, picking up and dropping off massive packages of digital data all over the globe. Another is to collect data on solar storms in the upper atmosphere using the Enhanced Polar Outflow Probe (e‑POP) payload, a collection of eight instruments that can, among other capabilities, measure the energy distribution of ions in the ionosphere and image auroral emissions.

    Over the course of 1 year, the authors observed e-POP measurements at relatively low altitudes, between 325 and 730 kilometers. They looked for hot spots in the ionosphere, which occur when O+ ions become energized enough to escape Earth’s gravitational field. The team analyzed 24 such hot spots, examining their relation to the bulk flow of ions along the magnetic field lines around Earth, as well as low-frequency electromagnetic waves and currents.

    In the first statistical study of its kind, the team observed that extremely low frequency electromagnetic waves known as BBELF waves energize O+ ions, even at relatively low altitudes, heating them and accelerating them outward. This phenomenon, called transverse ion heating, has long been thought to occur predominantly at higher altitudes—not as low as 350 kilometers, as the authors observed. The researchers discovered patches of ionosphere where this heating was particularly intense, reaching up to 4.5 eV (50,000 K) in areas about 2 kilometers across, they report.

    Researchers traditionally have attributed heating in the lower reaches of the ionosphere to frictional interaction with Earth’s atmosphere, but the new study suggests that electromagnetic waves can also cause heating events. The study also reported downward flowing jets of ionospheric ions, which the authors attribute to downward pointing electric fields associated with auroral currents. (Journal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics, https://doi.org/10.1002/2017JA024955, 2018)

    See the full article here .

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    Eos is the leading source for trustworthy news and perspectives about the Earth and space sciences and their impact. Its namesake is Eos, the Greek goddess of the dawn, who represents the light shed on understanding our planet and its environment in space by the Earth and space sciences.

  • richardmitnick 7:26 am on April 5, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Applied Research & Technology, , ,   

    From JHU HUB: “With new technique, researchers create metallic alloy nanoparticles with unprecedented chemical capabilities” 

    Johns Hopkins

    Rachel Wallach

    New, stable nanoparticles are expected to have useful applications in the chemical and energy industries. Image credit: Getty Images

    Johns Hopkins researchers have teamed with colleagues from three other universities to combine up to eight different metals into single, uniformly mixed nanoparticles, creating new and stable nanoparticles with useful applications in the chemical and energy industries, the researchers said.

    Metallic alloy nanoparticles—particles ranging from about a billionth to 100 billionths of a meter in size—are often used as catalysts in the production of industrial products such as fertilizers and plastics. Until now, only a small set of alloy nanoparticles have been available because of complications that arise when combining extremely different metals.

    In the March 30 cover article of the journal Science, the researchers reported that their new technique made it possible to combine multiple metals, including those not usually considered capable of mixing.

    “This method enables new combinations of metals that do not exist in nature and do not otherwise go together,” said Chao Wang, an assistant professor in the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at Johns Hopkins and one of the study’s co-authors.

    The new materials, known as high-entropy-alloy nanoparticles, have created unprecedented catalytic mechanisms and reaction pathways and are expected to improve energy efficiency in the manufacturing process and lower production costs.

    The new method uses shock waves to heat the metals to extremely high temperatures—2,000 degrees Kelvin (more than 3,140 Fahrenheit) and higher—at exceptionally rapid rates, both heating and cooling them in the span of milliseconds. The metals are melted together to form small droplets of liquid solutions at the high temperatures and are then rapidly cooled to form homogeneous nanoparticles. Traditional methods, which rely on relatively slow and low-temperature heating and cooling techniques, often result in clumps of metal instead of separate particles.

    Based on these new nanoparticles, Wang’s research group designed a five-metal nanoparticle that demonstrated superior catalytic performance for selective oxidation of ammonia to nitrogen oxide, a reaction used by the chemical industry to produce nitric acid, which is used in the large-scale production of fertilizers and other products.

    In addition to nitric acid production, the researchers are exploring use of the nanoparticles in reactions like the removal of nitrogen oxide from vehicle exhaust. The work in Wang’s lab was part of a collaboration with colleagues from the University of Maryland, College Park; the University of Illinois at Chicago; and MIT.

    See the full article here .

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    About the Hub

    We’ve been doing some thinking — quite a bit, actually — about all the things that go on at Johns Hopkins. Discovering the glue that holds the universe together, for example. Or unraveling the mysteries of Alzheimer’s disease. Or studying butterflies in flight to fine-tune the construction of aerial surveillance robots. Heady stuff, and a lot of it.

    In fact, Johns Hopkins does so much, in so many places, that it’s hard to wrap your brain around it all. It’s too big, too disparate, too far-flung.

    We created the Hub to be the news center for all this diverse, decentralized activity, a place where you can see what’s new, what’s important, what Johns Hopkins is up to that’s worth sharing. It’s where smart people (like you) can learn about all the smart stuff going on here.

    At the Hub, you might read about cutting-edge cancer research or deep-trench diving vehicles or bionic arms. About the psychology of hoarders or the delicate work of restoring ancient manuscripts or the mad motor-skills brilliance of a guy who can solve a Rubik’s Cube in under eight seconds.

    There’s no telling what you’ll find here because there’s no way of knowing what Johns Hopkins will do next. But when it happens, this is where you’ll find it.

    Johns Hopkins Campus

    The Johns Hopkins University opened in 1876, with the inauguration of its first president, Daniel Coit Gilman. “What are we aiming at?” Gilman asked in his installation address. “The encouragement of research … and the advancement of individual scholars, who by their excellence will advance the sciences they pursue, and the society where they dwell.”

    The mission laid out by Gilman remains the university’s mission today, summed up in a simple but powerful restatement of Gilman’s own words: “Knowledge for the world.”

    What Gilman created was a research university, dedicated to advancing both students’ knowledge and the state of human knowledge through research and scholarship. Gilman believed that teaching and research are interdependent, that success in one depends on success in the other. A modern university, he believed, must do both well. The realization of Gilman’s philosophy at Johns Hopkins, and at other institutions that later attracted Johns Hopkins-trained scholars, revolutionized higher education in America, leading to the research university system as it exists today.

  • richardmitnick 4:14 pm on April 4, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Applied Research & Technology, , , , Tick Tock on the ‘Attoclock:’ Tracking X-Ray Laser Pulses at Record Speeds,   

    From SLAC: “Tick, Tock on the ‘Attoclock:’ Tracking X-Ray Laser Pulses at Record Speeds” 

    SLAC Lab

    April 4, 2018
    Amanda Solliday
    Angela Anderson

    In this illustration, ultrashort X-ray pulses (pink) at the Linac Coherent Light Source ionize neon gas at the center of a ring of detectors.


    An infrared laser (orange) sweeps the outgoing electrons (blue) across the detectors with circularly polarized light. Scientists read data from the detectors to learn about the time and energy structure of the pulses, information they will need for future experiments. (Terry Anderson / SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory)

    When it comes to making molecular movies, producing the world’s fastest X-ray pulses is only half the battle. A new technique reveals details about the timing and energy of pulses that are less than a millionth of a billionth of a second long, which can be used to probe nature’s processes at this amazingly fast attosecond timescale.

    To catch chemistry in action, scientists at the Department of Energy’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory use the shortest possible flashes of X-ray light to create “molecular movies” that capture the motions of atoms in chemical reactions and reveal new details about the most fundamental processes in nature.

    Future experiments at the Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS), SLAC’s X-ray free-electron laser, will use pulses that last just attoseconds (billionths of a billionth of a second). Such experiments will be even more powerful because they’ll be able to detect the motions of electrons within molecules during chemical reactions. However, to design such ultrafast experiments, researchers need meticulous measurements of the X-ray pulses so they can use that information to interpret the data they collect on the samples they study.

    Now an international team, including SLAC scientists, has created an X-ray “attoclock” that lets them analyze X-ray pulses on the attosecond timescale of electron motions.

    “Using this method, we can resolve details of the pulses in the attosecond domain for the first time,” says Ryan Coffee, a senior scientist at LCLS and the Stanford PULSE Institute and a principal investigator on the team. “This paves the way for X-ray free-electron laser science at a timescale that is key to understanding physical chemistry.”

    The team’s research was published in Nature Photonics on March 5.

    Timekeeping in Attoseconds

    An illustration of the ring-shaped array of 16 individual detectors arranged in a circle like numbers on the face of a clock. An X-ray laser pulse hits a target at the center and sets free electrons that are swept around the detectors. The location, where the electrons reach the “clock,” reveals details such as the variation of the X-ray energy and intensity as a function of time within the ultrashort pulse itself. (Frank Scholz & Jens Buck / DESY)

    The term “attoclock” was coined by Swiss physicist Ursula Keller, who first demonstrated a technique to study attosecond processes with circularly polarized light 10 years ago. However, the LCLS version is the first one designed to measure individual X-ray pulses, one by one.

    It consists of a ring of detectors arranged like numbers on the face of a clock. When an X-ray pulse hits a target at the center of the clock, it knocks electrons out of the target’s atoms. Those electrons are hit by circularly polarized laser light that whirls the electrons around the ring before they land on one of the detectors. The position of that detector – the number on the clock face – tells scientists how much energy the X-ray pulse contained and when exactly it hit the target.

    “It’s like reading a watch,” Coffee says. “An electron may strike a detector positioned at one o’clock or three o’clock or anywhere around the clock face. We can tell from where it hits exactly when it was generated by the X-ray pulse.”

    In an experiment designed to test the technique, the researchers hit neon gas with an attosecond X-ray pulse and then read which of the 16 detectors arrayed around the attoclock the freed electrons hit.

    “In coming up with this technique, we combined ideas from different fields,” says principal investigator Wolfram Helml, then a Marie Curie research fellow at SLAC and the Technical University of Munich and now at the Ludwig-Maximilian University of Munich. “For our purposes, it just made sense to combine the circularly polarized light used in the original attoclock with a ring-shaped detector that has been used in other kinds of experiments.”

    Finding the True Colors

    The technique will be especially important for pump-probe experiments, in which a molecule is first excited with a “pump” pulse and then analyzed by a second “probe” pulse to see how it reacted.

    As short as they are, these pulses can contain many different colors or wavelengths. “The color can also vary widely from pulse to pulse, and our technique can sift through the pulses, finding those that are interesting for the experiment,” Coffee says, noting the importance that such sifting will have for the data deluge expected when an upgrade to the X-ray laser, LCLS-II, comes online a couple years from now.

    SLAC/LCLS II projected view

    With pulses that arrive up to a million times per second, LCLS-II will produce as much data in a few minutes as LCLS currently collects in a month.

    “For instance, only a certain color may excite a molecule when it is ‘pumped,’” Helml said. “With the attoclock we can see what part of the pulse is actually exciting the molecule because we know exactly when particular colors of light arrive. This lets us pinpoint more precisely when changes occur in the molecule as a result of the interaction with light.”

    What’s more, scientists can potentially excite individual elements in separate parts of the molecule at the same time using different colors of X-rays.

    “With this technique we could look within a single molecule at the interplay between atoms. For example, what’s going on with an oxygen atom and how might that affect the chemical environment surrounding a nearby nitrogen atom?” Helml says. “With that level of detail, we can discern completely new chemical behavior.”

    Progress in Motion

    The attoclock team is now working on a proposal to build more refined detectors.

    “With the next detector, we are aiming to precisely identify a broader spectrum of energies,” Coffee says. “This will be an important feature for our upgraded X-ray laser, LCLS-II, which will produce pulses with an even wider energy range and more multi-color flexibility than our current machine.”

    This is one of several ideas being tested at SLAC to give scientists detailed information about attosecond pulses. Two other teams are building similar systems with different types of detectors, including one at LCLS and PULSE that recently published a study in Optics Express.

    The international team on the Nature Photonics study also included scientists from Deutsches Elektronen-Synchrotron (DESY) and the European X-ray Free-electron Laser (Eu-XFEL), both in Germany, who also provided the unique ring-shaped detector; University of Kassel in Germany; University of Gothenburg in Sweden; University of Bern in Switzerland; University of Colorado at Boulder; University of the Basque Country in Spain; and Lomonosov Moscow State University in Russia.

    LCLS is a DOE Office of Science user facility.

    See the full article here .

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    SLAC Campus
    SLAC is a multi-program laboratory exploring frontier questions in photon science, astrophysics, particle physics and accelerator research. Located in Menlo Park, California, SLAC is operated by Stanford University for the DOE’s Office of Science.

  • richardmitnick 2:10 pm on April 4, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: A new era of precision for antimatter research, , , Applied Research & Technology, , , , , ,   

    From CERN ALPHA: “A new era of precision for antimatter research” 

    Cern New Bloc

    Cern New Particle Event

    CERN New Masthead


    4 Apr 2018
    Ana Lopes

    ALPHA experiment (Image: Maximilien Brice/CERN)

    The ALPHA collaboration has reported the most precise direct measurement of antimatter ever made, revealing the spectral structure of the antihydrogen atom in unprecedented colour. The result, published today in Nature, is the culmination of three decades of research and development at CERN, and opens a completely new era of high-precision tests between matter and antimatter.

    The humble hydrogen atom, comprising a single electron orbiting a single proton, is a giant in fundamental physics, underpinning the modern atomic picture. Its spectrum is characterised by well-known spectral lines at certain wavelengths, corresponding to the emission of photons of a certain frequency or colour when electrons jump between different orbits. Measurements of the hydrogen spectrum agree with theoretical predictions at the level of a few parts in a quadrillion (1015) — a stunning achievement that antimatter researchers have long sought to match for antihydrogen.

    Comparing such measurements with those of antihydrogen atoms, which comprise an antiproton orbited by a positron, tests a fundamental symmetry called charge-parity-time (CPT) invariance. Finding any slight difference between the two would rock the foundations of the Standard Model of particle physics and perhaps shed light on why the universe is made up almost entirely of matter, even though equal amounts of antimatter should have been created in the Big Bang.

    The Standard Model of elementary particles (more schematic depiction), with the three generations of matter, gauge bosons in the fourth column, and the Higgs boson in the fifth.

    Standard Model of Particle Physics from Symmetry Magazine

    Until now, however, it has been all but impossible to produce and trap sufficient numbers of delicate antihydrogen atoms, and to acquire the necessary optical interrogation technology, to make serious antihydrogen spectroscopy possible.

    The ALPHA team makes antihydrogen atoms by taking antiprotons from CERN’s Antiproton Decelerator (AD) and binding them with positrons from a sodium-22 source.

    CERN Antiproton Decelerator

    Next it confines the resulting antihydrogen atoms in a magnetic trap, which prevents them from coming into contact with matter and annihilating. Laser light is then shone onto the trapped antihydrogen atoms, their response measured and finally compared with that of hydrogen.

    In 2016, the ALPHA team used this approach to measure the frequency of the electronic transition between the lowest-energy state and the first excited state (the so-called 1S to 2S transition) of antihydrogen with a precision of a couple of parts in ten billion, finding good agreement with the equivalent transition in hydrogen. The measurement involved using two laser frequencies — one matching the frequency of the 1S–2S transition in hydrogen and another “detuned” from it — and counting the number of atoms that dropped out of the trap as a result of interactions between the laser and the trapped atoms.

    The latest result from ALPHA takes antihydrogen spectroscopy to the next level, using not just one but several detuned laser frequencies, with slightly lower and higher frequencies than the 1S–2S transition frequency in hydrogen. This allowed the team to measure the spectral shape, or spread in colours, of the 1S–2S antihydrogen transition and get a more precise measurement of its frequency. The shape matches that expected for hydrogen extremely well, and ALPHA was able to determine the 1S–2S antihydrogen transition frequency to a precision of a couple of parts in a trillion—a factor of 100 better than the 2016 measurement.

    “The precision achieved in the latest study is the ultimate accomplishment for us,” explains Jeffrey Hangst, spokesperson for the ALPHA experiment. “We have been trying to achieve this precision for 30 years and have finally done it.”

    Although the precision still falls short of that for ordinary hydrogen, the rapid progress made by ALPHA suggests hydrogen-like precision in antihydrogen — and thus unprecedented tests of CPT symmetry — are now within reach. “This is real laser spectroscopy with antimatter, and the matter community will take notice,” adds Hangst. “We are realising the whole promise of CERN’s AD facility; it’s a paradigm change.”

    ALPHA spokesperson Jeffrey Hangst explains the new results. (Video: Jacques Fichet/CERN)

    See the full article here.

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    Meet CERN in a variety of places:

    Quantum Diaries

    Cern Courier




    CERN CMS New

    CERN LHCb New II


    CERN LHC Map
    CERN LHC Grand Tunnel

    CERN LHC particles













    CERN CAST Axion Solar Telescope











    CERN NA62

    CERN NA62



    CERN UA9

  • richardmitnick 11:27 am on April 4, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Applied Research & Technology, , , , Scientists confirm water trapped inside diamonds deep below Earth’s surface,   

    From University of Chicago: “Scientists confirm water trapped inside diamonds deep below Earth’s surface” 

    U Chicago bloc

    University of Chicago

    March 30, 2018
    Karen Mellen

    Researchers working at Argonne National Laboratory have identified a form of water trapped within diamonds that crystallized deep in the Earth’s mantle. (Pictured: Rough diamond in kimberlite.) Copyright Getty Images.

    Water occurs naturally as far as at least 250 miles below the Earth’s surface, according to a study published in Science last week by researchers from the University of Chicago and others. The discovery, which relies on extremely bright X-ray beams from the Advanced Photon Source at Argonne National Laboratory, could change our understanding of how water circulates deep in the Earth’s mantle and how heat escapes from the lower regions of our planet.


    The researchers identified a form of water known as Ice-VII, which was trapped within diamonds that crystallized deep in the Earth’s mantle. This is the first time Ice-VII has been discovered in a natural sample, making the compound a new mineral accepted by the International Mineralogical Association.

    The study is the latest in a long line of research projects at the Advanced Photon Source, a massive X-ray facility used by thousands of researchers every year, which have shed light on the composition and makeup of the deep Earth. Humans cannot explore these regions directly, so the Advanced Photon Source lets them use high-powered X-ray beams to analyze inclusions in diamonds formed in the deep Earth.

    UChicago researchers involved in the work at Argonne’s Advanced Photon Source included (from left): Vitali Prakapenka, Tony Lanzirotti, Matt Newville, Eran Greenberg and Dongzhou Zhang. (Photo by Rick Fenner / Argonne National Laboratory).

    “We are interested in those inclusions because they tell us about the chemical composition and conditions in the deep Earth when the diamond was formed,” said Antonio Lanzirotti, a UChicago research associate professor and co-author on the study.

    In this case, researchers analyzed rough, uncut diamonds mined from regions in China and Africa. Using an optical microscope, mineralogists first identified inclusions, or impurities, which must have formed when the diamond crystallized. But to positively identify the composition of these inclusions, mineralogists needed a stronger instrument: the University of Chicago’s GeoSoilEnviroCARS’s beam lines at the Advanced Photon Source.

    Thanks to the very high brightness of the X-rays, which are a billion times more intense than typical X-ray machines, scientists can determine the molecular or atomic makeup of specimens that are only micrometers across. When the beam of X-rays hits the molecules of the specimen, they scatter into unique patterns that reveal their molecular makeup.

    What the team identified was surprising: water, in the form of ice.

    The composition of the water is the same as the water that we drink and use every day, but in a cubic crystalline form—the result of the extremely high pressure of the diamond.

    This form of water, Ice-VII, was created in the lab decades ago, but this study was the first to confirm that it also forms naturally. Because of the pressure required for diamonds to form, the scientists know that these specimens formed between 410 and 660 kilometers (250 to 410 miles) below the Earth’s surface.

    The researchers said the significance of the study is profound because it shows that flowing water is present much deeper below the Earth’s surface than originally thought. Going forward, the results raise a number of important questions about how water is recycled in the Earth and how heat is circulated. Oliver Tschauner, the lead author on the study and a mineralogist at University of Nevada in Las Vegas, said the discovery can help scientists create new, more accurate models of what’s going on inside the Earth, specifically how and where heat is generated under the Earth’s crust. This may help scientists better understand one of the driving mechanisms for plate tectonics.

    “[T]hanks to the amazing technical capabilities of the Advanced Photon Source, this team of researchers was able to pinpoint and study the exact area on the diamonds that trapped the water”
    Stephen Streiffer, associate laboratory director for photon sciences

    “This wasn’t easy to find,” said Vitali Prakapenka, a UChicago research professor and a co-author of the study. “People have been searching for this kind of inclusion for a long time.”

    For now, the team is wondering whether the mineral Ice-VII will be renamed, now that it is officially a mineral. This is not the first mineral to be identified thanks to research done at the Advanced Photon Source GSECARS beamlines: Bridgmanite, the Earth’s most abundant mineral and a high-density form of magnesium iron silicate, was researched extensively there before it was named. Tschauner was a lead author on that study, too.

    “In this study, thanks to the amazing technical capabilities of the Advanced Photon Source, this team of researchers was able to pinpoint and study the exact area on the diamonds that trapped the water,” said Stephen Streiffer, Argonne associate laboratory director for photon sciences and director of the Advanced Photon Source. “That area was just a few microns wide. To put that in context, a human hair is about 75 microns wide.

    “This research, enabled by partners from the University of Chicago and the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, among other institutions, is just the latest example of how the APS is a vital tool for researchers across scientific disciplines,” he said.

    Other GSECARS co-authors are Eran Greenberg, Dongzhou Zhang and Matt Newville.

    In addition to the University of Chicago and UNLV, other institutions cited in the study include the California Institute of Technology, China University of Geosciences, the University of Hawaii at Manoa and the Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto. Data also was collected at Carnegie Institute of Washington’s High Pressure Collaborative Access Team at the Advanced Photon Source and the Advanced Light Source at Lawrence Berkeley National Lab.


    LBNL Advanced Light Source storage ring

    See the full article here .

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    U Chicago Campus

    An intellectual destination

    One of the world’s premier academic and research institutions, the University of Chicago has driven new ways of thinking since our 1890 founding. Today, UChicago is an intellectual destination that draws inspired scholars to our Hyde Park and international campuses, keeping UChicago at the nexus of ideas that challenge and change the world.

  • richardmitnick 1:13 pm on April 3, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Applied Research & Technology, , , , The big book of physics   

    From Symmetry: “The big book of physics” 

    Symmetry Mag

    Emily Ayshford

    Photo by Reidar Hahn, Fermilab

    Looking for the latest info on particle physics? There’s a book for that.

    Want to know the latest research on the Higgs boson? Or the current findings on the search for dark energy?

    You could search the internet, or even the latest scientific literature. Or you could find all your answers in one spot: The Review of Particle Physics, an 1800-page doorstopper compendium of measurements, tables and review articles that includes everything we currently know about the building blocks of the universe and the fundamental forces that govern it.

    In an era of overwhelming information, the 60-year-old publication serves as a continually updated, curated hierarchy of research results. “In a field as large as particle physics, it’s good to have a central place to find authoritative answers and information you might need,” says Juerg Beringer, group leader of the Particle Data Group, or PDG, at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, which oversees the publication. In addition to research results, PDG also covers the tools of the HEP trade, such as detectors, accelerators, probability and statistics.

    And though it’s the most-cited publication in particle physics, it’s not just for scientists. The book is distributed free of charge, around the world, to anyone.

    “A fair fraction of our audience is students or the general public who are interested in learning about the field,” Beringer says.

    First, a wallet card reference

    The book’s beginnings were much humbler—in fact, it was originally designed to fit in your pocket. Physicists Murray Gell-Mann and Art Rosenfeld published a Particle Properties Table in the 1957 Annual Review of Nuclear Science, which then was produced as a wallet card showing easy-to-access experimental and theoretical information on the few particles known at that time.

    By 1964, thanks to an explosion of experiments, the number of known particle measurements had grown so much that the wallet card became a small book (though wallet cards could still be requested—smaller ones to fit American wallets, and larger, more readable ones for European wallets).

    “Enrico Fermi once said, ‘If I could remember the names of all these particles, I would have been a botanist,’” says Michael Barnett, former head of the Particle Data Group. “And now we have many, many more particles.”

    The book has continued to grow since then—usually around 10 percent per year. The Particle Data Group, which updates the Review, is led by a small team but involves an international collaboration of 223 authors from 148 institutions in 24 countries. Every year, team members scan newly published scientific articles to determine what new information should be included, and how. It might be a new measurement of a particle, or a new review of a field, like inflation. Though there may be a discussion about which information to include and when, the process is generally conflict-free, and any quibbles are placed in the footnotes.

    In print, serendipity

    The publication is updated yearly online, and a print version is updated every two years. The Review was put on the internet in 1995, and since then the website has had more than 130 million hits. But the printed publications remain popular: For recent editions, the group distributed 14,000 copies of the book and 32,000 copies of the booklet.


    They say you don’t feel like a particle physicist until you get your first booklet.

    “Graduate students use it like a textbook,” Barnett says. “They write in the margins, bookmark pages, underline things they want to remember.” Having a physical book also encourages experiences searching on the internet can’t provide: serendipitous exploration of other topics in physics.

    The smaller, spiral-bound booklet—which was originally also meant to fit into your pocket, but now at 348 pages will at least fit into your bag—is often used in classrooms as an introduction to the field.

    “They say you don’t feel like a particle physicist until you get your first booklet,” Barnett says.

    New information added to the book ebbs and flows with the startup and shutdown of high-energy physics facilities and experiments. In 2012 the group was about to send an edition to print when the Higgs boson discovery was announced. They stopped the presses, commissioned an addendum to the Higgs review article summarizing the discovery and were able to include it in the final manuscript before it went to press.

    “That was very, very exciting for everyone,” Beringer says.

    A more searchable future

    The latest edition includes more than 3000 new measurements from 721 papers and reviews on everything from the Higgs boson to Grand Unified Theories. But all the new information pushed the book’s size to 1800 pages, and it began to look more like a telephone book than a textbook.

    “It became a health hazard to carry it around with you,” Beringer says. So the group took out the data tables and particle measurements; now those are just listed online. Beringer says online usage is becoming increasingly important, and they are working to make the information more easily searchable.

    Budgetary constraints and the general trend toward online publishing have made it increasingly difficult to offer a free printed version of the PDG book, Beringer says. So the group is considering alternatives such as offering print-on-demand for a fee.

    But the group hopes to find a way to continue printing the book for the 2018 edition, slated to publish this summer. A recent survey showed that 80 percent of respondents still want a printed booklet, and more than two-thirds want a printed book. The group also wants to continue to make the book accessible to readers who may not be able to afford the cost of printing and shipping.

    Printed information, it seems, still has its place in a digital world. In fact, Barnett recently received an email from someone asking for a new booklet because their copy had been stolen.

    “I’m happy to see that it’s still so valuable that someone will steal it,” he says.

    See the full article here .

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    Symmetry is a joint Fermilab/SLAC publication.

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