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  • richardmitnick 7:00 am on December 3, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , CERN, , In Practice: What do data analysts do all day?, , , , The appeal of the unknown   

    From CERN: “In Practice: What do data analysts do all day?” 

    Cern New Bloc

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    CERN

    2 Dec 2016
    Kathryn Coldham
    Kate Kahle
    Harriet Jarlett

    1
    CMS physicist Nadjieh Jafari switched from theoretical to experimental physics early on in her career. “It was an easy decision,” she says. “Once I saw CERN, it became my quest.” (Image: Sophia Bennett/ CERN)

    Another day, another mountain of data to analyse. In 2016, CERN’s Large Hadron Collider produced more collisions than in all previous years of operation put together. Experimental physicists spend much of their professional lives analysing collision data, working towards a potential discovery or to sharpen our picture of nature. But when the day-to-day findings become predictable, do physicists lose motivation?

    What if there’s nothing there?

    CERN has made headlines with its discoveries, but does this mean today’s researchers are just seeking fame and fortune? For most, being front-page news is not what stokes their physics passion, as they stare at their computer screens for hours. Instead, it’s the knowledge and excitement of understanding our universe at the most fundamental level.

    Siegfried Foertsch, run coordinator of the ALICE experiment, is motivated by “the completely new discoveries that lie around the corner. They’ve become ascertainable because of the new energies that the LHC machine is providing.”

    2
    Sitting in the ALICE control room, Siegfried explains: “I think what motivates people in these experiments is that you are entering terra incognita, it’s completely new science. It drives most people in these big experiments, it’s about new discoveries.” (Image: Sophia Bennett/CERN)

    These headline-worthy discoveries are rare. Instead, researchers make small, incremental findings day-by-day. “It doesn’t bother me that it’s not going to make front-page news. I know that within the particle physics community the research is important and that’s enough,” says Sneha Malde of the LHCb experiment.

    For CMS physicist Anne-Marie Magnan, her colleagues provide the much-needed push.

    “We have deadlines, so if you are part of an analysis you have pressure to make progress and you put personal pressure on yourself because you want to see the result. If you’re on a review committee you have deadlines, you need to provide feedback, the same if you’re managing a subgroup, you’re responsible for the group to show results at conferences. So you push people and they push you back to try and make progress,” she explains.

    Magnan analyses data to search for Higgs bosons . She describes her daily work as “programming, mostly. A lot of interaction with people, I have students to Skype with and when they say ‘I’m stuck, I don’t know what to do’ we chat and find solutions. At some points I’ve been a subgroup convener. There you encourage people to make progress and provide feedback on their analyses.”

    “It’s an exercise of patience because, after time, the incremental findings lead to a result. And even if you’re just working towards a result, you still have to solve technical problems each day,” explains Leticia Cunqueiro Mendez, a senior postdoctoral researcher working with the ALICE detector.

    Building bonds: the road to success

    Each one of these incremental, small discoveries are documented by a research paper. At CERN, these papers are often authored by hundreds, even thousands of people, as was the case with the papers announcing the Higgs discovery. And they aren’t just experimental physicists; students, technicians, engineers and computer scientists are all often equally involved.

    Having a high level of motivation can only get a physicist so far, working with others is the route to success.

    “People need each other here,” says Siegfried Foertsch, “the idea of a physicist without an engineer at CERN is unthinkable, and similarly vice versa. It’s symbiotic.”

    “I think the work of the technicians is a major contribution to the applied physics that I’m involved in. They are the unsung heroes in most of what we do to some extent,” says David Francis, Project Leader of the ATLAS Trigger and Data Acquisition System.

    For Cunqueiro Mendez, “the main thing is to know the possibilities of your detector and to have an interesting idea of what physics might be observable. For this you need interaction with the theorists so, in principle, you have to be reading papers and attending conferences. Here at CERN, you can meet your theory colleagues for a coffee and discuss your possibilities.”

    Eeney meeney miney mo

    Working with others can be collaborative, but it can also be competitive. There is a point of pride for one experiment to beat the competition to a discovery.

    3
    Sneha Malde standing in the corridor outside of her office (Image: Maximilien Brice/CERN)

    While the ATLAS and CMS experiments perform similar searches, the LHCb and ALICE experiments have particular fields of study, and the work that the associated physicists do differs as a result.

    Bump searches are what physicists call it when they try to find statistically significant peaks in the data; the presence of a bump could indicate the existence of a new particle. Some of these searches are done at ATLAS and CMS, where new particles are the name of the game. At LHCb and ALICE they try to take precision measurements of phenomenon, more than particles.

    “I don’t think I would be very happy just looking at empty plots with nothing in them, which could happen in bump searches if they don’t find anything new,” muses Malde. “I like the precision measurement aspect of LHCb’s data.”

    Studying and searching for different things means the data plots for different experiments look very different.

    “I like having obvious things in my plots. I like nice bumps, big ones. We have lots of bumps that don’t disappear, and they are really big peaks. We don’t have bumps, we have mountains!” – Sneha Malde, LHCb data analyst

    ATLAS physicist Anatolli Romaniouk, marvels at this range of LHC experiments. They “embrace an incredible field of physics, they search for everything.”

    “This is physics; if we know what we are searching for, then we don’t need experiments. If you know what exactly you want to find, it’s already found, or will be found soon. That’s why our experiments are beautiful because these experiments embrace an incredible field of physics, the LHC, it searches for everything,” explains Romaniouk.

    The beauty of the unknown

    4
    ATLAS physicist Anatolli Romaniouk has worked at CERN since 1990. The students he sees in the collaboration “know a bit of electronics, data acquisition and data analysis, very often they do it from second year of university and this is interesting. I find this brilliant, that they practice real physics at an early stage of their education.” (Image: Sophia Bennett/CERN)

    The appeal of the unknown, the as yet undiscovered, ignites the curiosity in the physicists and fuels them in their analyses.

    “When you have something in theory and think that it could be real – that it could exist – then you start to really think how you can look for it and try to find it,” says CMS physicist Nadjieh Jafari. “You build your experiment based on the theories. The CMS’s muon system was perfectly designed to discover the Higgs boson but at the moment of designing it, it was just an idea that we might find it. For me, that’s the most beautiful part of what we do.”

    See the full article here.

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

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    Meet CERN in a variety of places:

    Cern Courier

    THE FOUR MAJOR PROJECT COLLABORATIONS

    ATLAS
    CERN ATLAS New

    ALICE
    CERN ALICE New

    CMS
    CERN CMS New

    LHCb
    CERN LHCb New II

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    CERN LHC Map
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  • richardmitnick 1:14 pm on November 25, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: CERN, , , NA64 experiment hunts the mysterious dark photon, ,   

    From CERN: “NA64 hunts the mysterious dark photon” 

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    CERN

    25 Nov 2016
    Stefania Pandolfi
    Posted by Corinne Pralavorio

    1
    An overview of the NA64 experimental set-up at CERN. NA64 hunts down dark photons, hypothetic dark matter particles. (Image: Maximilien Brice/CERN)

    One of the biggest puzzles in physics is that eighty-five percent of the matter in our universe is “dark”: it does not interact with the photons of the conventional electromagnetic force and is therefore invisible to our eyes and telescopes. Although the composition and origin of dark matter are a mystery, we know it exists because astronomers observe its gravitational pull on ordinary visible matter such as stars and galaxies.

    Some theories suggest that, in addition to gravity, dark matter particles could interact with visible matter through a new force, which has so far escaped detection. Just as the electromagnetic force is carried by the photon, this dark force is thought to be transmitted by a particle called “dark” photon which is predicted to act as a mediator between visible and dark matter.

    “To use a metaphor, an otherwise impossible dialogue between two people not speaking the same language (visible and dark matter) can be enabled by a mediator (the dark photon), who understands one language and speaks the other one,” explains Sergei Gninenko, spokesperson for the NA64 collaboration.

    CERN’s NA64 experiment looks for signatures of this visible-dark interaction using a simple but powerful physics concept: the conservation of energy. A beam of electrons, whose initial energy is known very precisely, is aimed at a detector. Interactions between incoming electrons and atomic nuclei in the detector produce visible photons. The energy of these photons is measured and it should be equivalent to that of the electrons. However, if the dark photons exist, they will escape the detector and carry away a large fraction of the initial electron energy.

    Therefore, the signature of the dark photon is an event registered in the detector with a large amount of “missing energy” that cannot be attributed to a process involving only ordinary particles, thus providing a strong hint of the dark photon’s existence.

    If confirmed, the existence of the dark photon would represent a breakthrough in our understanding the longstanding dark matter mystery.


    View of the NA64 experiment set-up. (Video: Christoph Madsen/Noemi Caraban/CERN)

    See the full article here.

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    THE FOUR MAJOR PROJECT COLLABORATIONS

    ATLAS
    CERN ATLAS New

    ALICE
    CERN ALICE New

    CMS
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  • richardmitnick 4:34 pm on November 3, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , ASAUSA, CERN, , ,   

    From CERN: “CERN experiment improves precision of antiproton mass measurement with new innovative cooling technique” 

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    CERN

    03 Nov 2016
    No writer credit found

    1
    The ASACUSA experiment (Image: CERN)
    Electrostatic protocol treatment lens. The purpose of this device is to transport Antiprotons from the new ELENA storage beam to all AD experiments. The electrostatic device was successfully tested in ASACUSA two weeks ago.

    In a paper published today in the journal Science, the ASACUSA experiment at CERN1 reported new precision measurement of the mass of the antiproton relative to that of the electron. This result is based on spectroscopic measurements with about 2 billion antiprotonic helium atoms cooled to extremely cold temperatures of 1.5 to 1.7 degrees above absolute zero. In antiprotonic helium atoms an antiproton takes the place of one of the electrons that would normally be orbiting the nucleus. Such measurements provide a unique tool for comparing with high precision the mass of an antimatter particle with its matter counterpart. The two should be strictly identical.

    “A pretty large number of atoms containing antiprotons were cooled below minus 271 degrees Celsius. It’s kind of surprising that a ‘half-antimatter’ atom can be made so cold by simply placing it in a refrigerated gas of normal helium,” said Masaki Hori, Group Leader of the ASACUSA collaboration.

    Matter and antimatter particles are always produced as a pair in particle collisions. Particles and antiparticles have the same mass and opposite electric charge. The positively charged positron, for example, is an anti-electron, the antiparticle of the negatively charged electron. Positrons have been observed since the 1930s, both in natural collisions from cosmic rays and in particle accelerators. They are used today in hospital in PET scanners. However, studying antimatter particles with high-precision remains a challenge because when matter and antimatter come into contact, they annihilate – disappearing in a flash of energy.

    CERN’s Antiproton Decelerator is a unique facility delivering low-energy antiproton beams to experiments for antimatter studies. In order to make measurements with these antiprotons, several experiments trap them for long periods using magnetic devices. ASACUSA’s approach is different as the experiment is able to create very special hybrid atoms made of a mix of matter and antimatter: these are the antiprotonic helium atoms composed of an antiproton and an electron orbiting a helium nucleus. They are made by mixing antiprotons with helium gas. In this mixture, about 3% of the antiprotons replace one of the two electrons of the helium atom. In antiprotonic helium, the antiproton is in orbit around the helium nucleus, and protected by the electron cloud that surrounds the whole atom, making antiprotonic helium stable enough for precision measurements.

    The measurement of the antiproton’s mass is done by spectroscopy, by shining a laser beam onto the antiprotonic helium. Tuning the laser to the right frequency causes the antiprotons to make a quantum jump within the atoms. From this frequency the antiproton mass relative to the electron mass can be calculated. This method has been successfully used before by the ASACUSA collaboration to measure with high accuracy the antiproton’s mass. However, the microscopic motion of the antiprotonic helium atoms introduced a significant source of uncertainty in previous measurements.

    The major new achievement of the collaboration, as reported in Science, is that ASACUSA has now managed to cool down the antiprotonic helium atoms to temperatures close to absolute zero by suspending them in a very cold helium buffer-gas. In this way, the microscopic motion of the atoms is reduced, enhancing the precision of the frequency measurement. The measurement of the transition frequency has been improved by a factor of 1.4 to 10 compared with previous experiments. Experiments were conducted from 2010 to 2014, with about 2 billion atoms, corresponding to roughly 17 femtograms of antiprotonic helium.

    According to standard theories, protons and antiprotons are expected to have exactly the same mass. To date, no difference has been found between their masses, but pushing the precision limits of this comparison is a very important test of key theoretical principles such as the CPT symmetry. CPT is a consequence of basic symmetries of space-time, such as its isotropy in all directions. The observation of even a minute breaking of CPT would call for a review of our assumptions about the nature and properties of space-time.

    The ASACUSA collaboration is confident that it will be able to further improve the precision of antiproton’s mass by using two laser beams. In the near future, the start of the ELENA facility at CERN will also allow the precision of such measurements to be improved.

    See the full article here.

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    Meet CERN in a variety of places:

    Cern Courier

    THE FOUR MAJOR PROJECT COLLABORATIONS

    ATLAS
    CERN ATLAS New

    ALICE
    CERN ALICE New

    CMS
    CERN CMS New

    LHCb
    CERN LHCb New II

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    CERN LHC Map
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  • richardmitnick 11:51 am on September 7, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , CERN,   

    From CERN: “The LHC MoEDAL experiment publishes its first paper on its search for magnetic monopoles” 

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    CERN

    10 Aug 2016
    No writer credit found

    1
    Magnetic monopoles and dipoles (Image: CERN)

    In a paper published by the Journal of High Energy Physics today, the MoEDAL experiment at CERN1 narrows the window of where to search for a hypothetical particle, the magnetic monopole. Over the last decades, experiments have been trying to find evidence for magnetic monopoles at accelerators, including at CERN’s Large Hadron Collider. Such particles were first predicted by physicist Paul Dirac in the 1930s but have never been observed so far.

    “Today MoEDAL celebrates the release of its first physics result and joins the other LHC experiments at the discovery frontier,” says Spokesperson of the MoEDAL experiment, James Pinfold.

    Just as electricity comes with two charges, positive and negative, so magnetism comes with two poles, North and South. The difference is that while it’s easy to isolate a positive or negative electric charge, nobody has ever seen a solitary magnetic charge, or monopole. If you take a bar magnet and cut it in half, you end up with two smaller bar magnets, each with a North and South pole. Yet theory suggests that magnetism could be a property of elementary particles. So just as electrons carry negative electric charge and protons carry positive charge, so magnetic monopoles could in theory carry a North or a South pole.

    If monopoles exist, they are believed to be very massive. As the LHC produces collisions at unprecedented energy, physicists may be able to observe such particles if they are light enough to be in the LHC’s reach. For instance, high-energy photon–photon interactions could produce pairs of North and South monopoles. Monopoles could manifest their presence via their magnetic charge and through their very high ionizing power, estimated to be about 4700 times higher than that of the protons. The MoEDAL experiment at the LHC is designed specifically to look at these effects.

    MoEDAL is composed of a largely passive detector, installed next to the LHCb experiment. As monopoles would be highly ionizing, they would leave tracks in plastic detectors (NTDs) that are examined by a microscope afterwards. Monopoles would also lose their energy very quickly and could therefore be slowed down by another device consisting of 0.8 tonnes of aluminium detectors that act as a trap. A trapped monopole would signal its presence afterwards, when a magnetometer ‘scans’ the detectors for a magnetic charge. Additionally, MoEDAL includes an array of TimePix silicon pixel detectors used to monitor the experiment’s environment in real-time.

    The paper published today is based on an analysis of data collected during the LHC’s first run, when the trapping detector was still a prototype. Although showing no evidence for trapped monopoles, the results have allowed the MoEDAL collaboration to place new mass limits, assuming a simple production mode of these hypothetical particles. They also provide a clear demonstration of the power of the MoEDAL detector, as the LHC delivers data at higher energy. The MoEDAL collaboration is now actively working on the analysis of data obtained with the full detector – including plastic NTDs and trapping detectors – in 2015, with the exciting possibility of revolutionary discoveries in a number of new physics scenarios.

    The paper published today was signed by school students from the Simon Langton School, Canterbury, UK, which joined the MoEDAL collaboration in 2013, and the Institute for Research in Schools (IRIS), which aims is to bring first-class cutting-edge research into high-schools.

    2

    Footnote(s)

    1. CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, is the world’s leading laboratory for particle physics. Its headquarters are in Geneva. Its Member States are: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Israel, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and United Kingdom. Cyprus and Serbia are Associate Member States in the pre-stage to Membership. Pakistan and Turkey are Associate Member States. The European Union, India, Japan, JINR, the Russian Federation, UNESCO and the United States of America have Observer status.

    See the full article here.

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

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    Meet CERN in a variety of places:

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    THE FOUR MAJOR PROJECT COLLABORATIONS

    ATLAS
    CERN ATLAS New

    ALICE
    CERN ALICE New

    CMS
    CERN CMS New

    LHCb
    CERN LHCb New II

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  • richardmitnick 8:52 am on August 13, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , CERN, Romania becomes CERN Member State   

    From CERN: “Romania becomes CERN Member State” 

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    Aug 12, 2016

    Romania has become the 22nd Member State of CERN, having acceded to the Organization’s founding convention, which is deposited with UNESCO, on 17 July. The accession crowns a period of co-operation that stretches back 25 years. “This is a very special moment for Romania and its relationship with CERN,” says ambassador Adrian Vierita, Romania’s permanent representative to the United Nations in Geneva.

    1

    Bilateral discussions between the Romanian government and CERN began in 1991. Aspiring to become a Member State and therefore to contribute fully to the governance of the laboratory, Romania submitted its formal application to join CERN in April 2008.

    Today, Romania has around 100 visiting scientists at CERN and a particularly strong presence in the LHC experiments ATLAS, ALICE and LHCb, in addition to the DIRAC, n_TOF and NA62 experiments. “The accession of Romania to full CERN membership underlines the importance of European research collaboration in the quest to understand nature at its most fundamental level,” says the president of CERN Council, Sijbrand de Jong. “United, we can do so much more than as individual countries.” The Romanian flag will be raised alongside 21 others at the CERN entrance on 5 September.

    See the full article here.

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    THE FOUR MAJOR PROJECT COLLABORATIONS

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    CERN ATLAS New

    ALICE
    CERN ALICE New

    CMS
    CERN CMS New

    LHCb
    CERN LHCb New II

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  • richardmitnick 3:00 pm on August 10, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , CERN, , MoEDAL closes in on search for magnetic particle,   

    From CERN: “MoEDAL closes in on search for magnetic particle” 

    Cern New Bloc

    Cern New Particle Event

    CERN New Masthead

    CERN

    10 Aug 2016
    Harriet Jarlett

    1
    The MoEDAL experiment is searching for magnetic monopoles, which could, in theory, carry either a North or a South pole. (Image: Daniel Dominguez/ CERN)

    2
    Magnetic monopoles and dipoles (Image: CERN)

    The Monopole & Exotics Detector at the LHC, nicknamed the MoEDAL experiment at CERN has narrowed the window of where to search for a hypothetical particle, the magnetic monopole, says a new paper published today in the journal JHEP.

    In the last decades, experiments have been trying to find evidence for magnetic monopoles at accelerators, including at CERN’s Large Hadron Collider. Such particles were first predicted by physicist Paul Dirac in the 1930s but have never been observed so far.

    “Today MoEDAL celebrates the release of its first physics result and joins the other LHC experiments at the discovery frontier,” says spokesperson of the MoEDAL experiment, James Pinfold.

    The paper published today is based on an analysis of data collected during the LHC’s first run, when the trapping detector was still a prototype. Although showing no evidence for trapped monopoles, the results have allowed the MoEDAL collaboration to place new mass limits, assuming a simple production mode of these hypothetical particles. You can read more in the press release here.

    What is a magnetic monopole?

    Just as electricity comes with two charges, positive and negative, so magnetism comes with two poles, North and South. The difference is that while it’s easy to isolate a positive or negative electric charge, nobody has ever seen a solitary magnetic charge, or monopole. If you take a bar magnet and cut it in half, you end up with two smaller bar magnets, each with a North and South pole. Yet theory suggests that magnetism could be a property of elementary particles. So just as electrons carry negative electric charge and protons carry positive charge, so magnetic monopoles could in theory carry a North or a South pole.

    If monopoles exist, they are believed to be very massive. As the LHC produces collisions at unprecedented energy, physicists may be able to observe such particles if they are light enough to be in the LHC’s reach. For instance, high-energy photon–photon interactions could produce pairs of North and South monopoles. Monopoles could manifest their presence via their magnetic charge and through their very high ionizing power, estimated to be about 4700 times higher than that of the protons. The MoEDAL experiment at the LHC is designed specifically to look at these effects.

    How does MoEDAL work?

    MoEDAL is composed of a largely passive detector, installed next to the LHCb experiment. As monopoles would be highly ionizing, they would leave tracks in plastic detectors (NTDs) that are examined by a microscope afterwards. Monopoles would also lose their energy very quickly and could therefore be slowed down by another device consisting of 0.8 tonnes of aluminium detectors that act as a trap. A trapped monopole would signal its presence afterwards, when a magnetometer ‘scans’ the detectors for a magnetic charge. Additionally, MoEDAL includes an array of TimePix silicon pixel detectors used to monitor the experiment’s environment in real-time.

    The results published today provide a clear demonstration of the power of the MoEDAL detector, as the LHC delivers data at higher energy. The MoEDAL collaboration is now actively working on the analysis of data obtained with the full detector – including plastic NTDs and trapping detectors – in 2015, with the exciting possibility of revolutionary discoveries in a number of new physics scenarios.


    What are magnetic monopoles? James Pinfold explains (Video: Noemi Caraban/CERN)

    See the full article here.

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

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    Meet CERN in a variety of places:

    Cern Courier

    THE FOUR MAJOR PROJECT COLLABORATIONS

    ATLAS
    CERN ATLAS New

    ALICE
    CERN ALICE New

    CMS
    CERN CMS New

    LHCb
    CERN LHCb New II

    LHC

    CERN LHC Map
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    Quantum Diaries

     
  • richardmitnick 5:10 am on July 26, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , CERN, , ,   

    From CERN: “New furnace a step towards future collider development” 

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    CERN

    26 Jul 2016
    Harriet Jarlett
    Panagiotis Charitos

    1
    The new furnace is currently being installed and tested (Image: Friedrich Lackner/CERN)

    A new furnace arrived at CERN’s Large Magnet Facility last month and is currently being installed and tested.

    The furnace completes the equipment required for the production of superconducting coils, which are needed for the High-Luminosity LHC (HL-LHC) upgrade and future circular colliders.

    Superconducting accelerator magnets are key for reaching higher energies and luminosities in particle accelerators.

    The HL-LHC upgrade aims for magnetic fields up to 11T for the dipole magnets while the Future Circular Collider study explores using magnets with a field of 16 Tesla, almost double the 8.3 Tesla of the superconducting magnets used in the LHC.

    To reach these goals new superconducting materials are needed.

    “Nb3Sn has been chosen for the next generation of superconducting magnets. The field achieved with this material can reach up to 16T. The production of such coils is complex as we must first wind the coils and then perform the heat treatment that allows the tin and niobium to react and turn into the superconducting Nb3Sn compound.” explains Friedrich Lackner, a project engineer who supervises the coil production for HL-LHC.

    Once the material has undergone this heat treatment it becomes very brittle, which is why this process is performed after the winding process — the opposite to magnets in the LHC.

    The new 32-metre-long furnace, called GL010000, will allow the heat treatment of coils with a length up to 11m and can reach temperatures up to 900°C providing a sufficient margin for future challenges.

    This treatment involves a two week long process during which the coils are raised to different temperature plateaus up to 665°C. A special feature of this oven is that it is able to raise the coils to such high temperatures completely uniformly throughout the entire oven, making sure one part doesn’t heat more or less than another.

    The installation of the new furnace at CERN’s Large Magnet Facility (LMF) will help scientists researching and developing the new materials needed for future colliders to understand the superconductor development based on this Nb3Sn alloy, and will allow CERN to lead the production of superconducting coils and the development of high-field magnets.

    See the full article here.

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    Meet CERN in a variety of places:

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    THE FOUR MAJOR PROJECT COLLABORATIONS

    ATLAS
    CERN ATLAS New

    ALICE
    CERN ALICE New

    CMS
    CERN CMS New

    LHCb
    CERN LHCb New II

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  • richardmitnick 12:23 pm on June 28, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: CERN, , , ,   

    From CERN: “Vacuum chambers full of ideas for the Swedish synchrotron” 

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    CERN

    27 Jun 2016
    Corinne Pralavorio

    CERN’s Vacuum, Surfaces and Coatings group has contributed to the development of vacuum chambers for the MAX IV synchrotron, which has just been officially opened in Sweden.

    1
    A section of the new 3 GeV MAXIV synchrotron at the time of installation. In the centre of the magnets you can see the vacuum chamber developed in collaboration with CERN. (Photo: Marek Grabski, MAX IV Vacuum group)

    On 21 June, the King and the Prime Minister of Sweden officially opened MAX IV, a brand-new synchrotron in Lund, Sweden. The summer solstice, the longest day of the year, was deliberately chosen for the ceremony: MAX IV, a cutting-edge synchrotron, will deliver the brightest X-rays ever produced to more than 2000 users.

    Some 1500 kilometres away, a team at CERN followed the opening ceremony with a touch of pride. The Vacuum, Surfaces and Coatings group in the Technology department (TE-VSC) participated in the construction of this new synchrotron. Its contribution lies at the very heart of the accelerator, in its vacuum chambers. The group developed the coating for most of the vacuum chambers in the larger of the two rings, which has a circumference of 528 metres and operates at an energy of 3 GeV.

    The CERN group was brought in to develop the coating for the vacuum chambers using NEG (Non-Evaporable Getter) material. A thin, micrometric layer of NEG ensures a high-grade vacuum: it traps residual gas molecules and limits the release of molecules generated by the bombardment of photons. The technology was developed at CERN in the late 1990s for the LHC: six kilometres of vacuum chambers in the LHC, i.e. those at ambient temperature, are coated with NEG material. CERN’s expertise in the field is therefore unique and recognised worldwide.

    2
    Prototype of the surface treatment process, developed at CERN, to coat the vacuum chambers of the MAX IV synchrotron. (Photo: Pedro Costa Pinto/CERN)

    “The MAX IV design was very demanding, as the cross-section of the vacuum chambers is very small, just 2.4 centimetres compared to 8 cm at the LHC,” explains Paolo Chiggiato, TE-VSC group leader. “In addition, some parts were geometrically complex.” Synchrotron light is extracted to experimental areas every 26 metres. At the extraction point, the chamber comprises two tubes that gradually diverge.

    The CERN group began its involvement in the project in 2014 and developed the chemical surface treatment method used for almost all the vacuum chambers in the large ring of MAX IV. Treatment of the cylindrically symmetrical vacuum chambers was carried out by a European firm and a European institute, to which CERN had already transferred the technology in the past. The most complex chambers, around 120 in total, were treated at CERN. Two benches for sputtering, the coating technique used, were developed at CERN. “These benches are equipped with a wire whose material is deposited onto the surface of the chamber. For the MAX IV chambers, the wire had a diameter of 0.5 millimetres and its alignment was critical,” explains Mauro Taborelli, leader of the Surfaces, Chemistry and Coatings section in the TE-VSC group. “The procedure was all the more complicated because the extraction chambers, in which the photons are extracted, have a tiny vertical aperture, of around 1 millimetre,” confirms Pedro Costa Pinto, leader of the team responsible for the vacuum deposition process.

    The vacuum chambers were delivered in 2014 and 2015. “It’s essential for us to participate in these types of project, which require lots of ingenuity, to be able to maintain and build on our know-how,” says Paolo Chiggiato. “By developing our expertise in this way, we will be ready for new projects at CERN.”

    See the full article here.

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  • richardmitnick 10:47 am on June 1, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , CERN, Mary K Gaillard,   

    From CERN: “One woman’s journey in physics” Mary K Gaillard – Women in Science 

    Cern New Bloc

    Cern New Particle Event

    CERN New Masthead

    CERN

    30 May 2016.
    Kristin Kaltenhauser
    James Gillies

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    Mary K Gaillard (left) during the presentation of her book, discussing the role of women in the fundamental physics field with Valerie Gibson.

    Mary K Gaillard began her career at the CNRS institute in France in the 1960’s, at a time when women physicists in research institutes could be counted on the fingers of one hand. She first came to CERN with her husband in the late 1960’s and stayed as a scientific visitor for many years, while still employed by the CNRS. In 1981, she joined the physics faculty at the University of California at Berkeley (UCB), becoming the first woman to hold a tenured position in the faculty.

    Gaillard not only made major contributions to the Standard Model of particle physics, such as the prediction of the mass of the charm quark and to the famous paper coining the term penguin diagram (link is external), she was also the first to address gender imbalance at CERN: for International Women’s Day in 1980, she published a report on women in scientific careers at CERN, an essay surveying the way in which women in scientific careers at CERN viewed their professional situation. This report was an important resource for a working group set up in the 1990s to study the situation of women at CERN. On this group’s recommendation, CERN established its Equal Opportunities programme, which has now grown into today’s Diversity Office.

    Closing the circle, the Diversity Office, together with the CERN Library and the Theory Department invited Gaillard to deliver a Theory seminar on quantum effects on supergravity theories, and to give some insight into the genesis of her book and her journey in physics. “Her frank autobiography, A Singularly Unfeminine Profession, is an honest, revelatory account of her many discoveries, made as she battled gender bias and faced the demands of raising three children,” said Valerie Gibson, Head of High Energy Physics and Fellow of Trinity College Cambridge in her review of the book in Nature .

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    Professor Gibson complemented Gaillard’s presentation with her own experiences and views on the challenges facing women making a career in physics.

    The conclusion of both women is that the situation has improved at CERN, as well as in academia in general, but there is still a long way to go, especially when it comes to women in senior positions and leadership roles. From one solitary female member of the faculty at UCB when Gaillard took up her post in 1981, the number has risen to five. Meanwhile, the number of young women completing physics PhD programmes climbed though the 60s, 70s and 80s to around 16%, where it has since levelled off.

    Gender stereotypes are all around us, and as Gaillard points out, “There seems to be a problem, starting with very young children.” As with any problem, the first step towards a solution is acknowledging that the problem exists, and Mary K Gaillard’s presentation served as a timely reminder that while progress has been made, there’s still much to do in particle physics, as in many areas of society.

    The book can be borrowed from the CERN library (link is external), bought at the CERN library (bldg. 52, 1st floor) or accessed online on the publisher’s website (World Scientific (link is external)) (free of charge for anyone with a CERN account).

    Watch the recording of the book presentation here.

    See the full article here.

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  • richardmitnick 6:39 am on May 20, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , CERN,   

    From CERN: “In Theory: Is theoretical physics in crisis?” 

    Cern New Bloc

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    CERN

    20 May 2016
    Harriet Jarlett

    1
    “The way physics develops is often a lot less logical than the theories it leads to — you cannot plan discoveries. Especially in theoretical physics.” Gian Giudice, Head of CERN’s Theory Department (Image: Sophia Bennett/ CERN)

    Over the past decade physicists have explored new corners of our world, and in doing so have answered some of the biggest questions of the past century.

    When researchers discovered the Higgs boson in 2012, it was a huge moment of achievement.

    CERN CMS Higgs Event
    CERN CMS Higgs Event

    It showed theorists had been right to look towards the Standard Model for answers about our Universe.

    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.
    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.

    But then the particle acted just like the theorist’s said it would, it obeyed every rule they predicted. If it had acted just slightly differently it would have raised many questions about the theory, and our universe. Instead, it raised few questions and gave no new clues about to where to look next.

    In other words, the theorists had done too good a job.

    “We are struggling to find clear indications that can point us in the right direction. Some people see in this state of crisis a source of frustration. I see a source of excitement because new ideas have always thrived in moments of crisis.” – Gian Giudice, head of the Theory Department at CERN.

    Before these discoveries, physicists were standing on the edge of a metaphorical flat Earth, suspecting it was round but not knowing for sure. Finding both the Higgs boson, and evidence of gravitational waves has brought scientists closer than ever to understanding two of the great theories of our time – the Standard Model and the theory of relativity.

    Now the future of theoretical physics is at a critical point – they proved their own theories, so what is there to do now?

    So what next?

    “Taking unexplained data, trying to fit it to the ideas of the universe […] – that’s the spirit of theoretical physics” – Gian Giudice

    In an earlier article in this series [link to series is below], we spoke about how experimental physicists and theoretical physicists must work together. Their symbiotic relationship – with theorists telling experimentalists where to look, and experimentalists asking theorists for explanations of unusual findings – is necessary, if we are to keep making discoveries.

    Just four years ago, in 2012, physicists still held a genuine uncertainty about whether the lynchpin of the Standard Model, the Higgs boson existed at all. Now, there’s much less uncertainty.

    “We are still in an uncertain period, previously we were uncertain as to how the Standard Model could be completed. Now we know it is pretty much complete so we can focus on the questions beyond it, dark matter, the future of the universe, the beginning of the universe, little things like that,” says John Ellis, a theoretical physicist from Kings College, London who began working at CERN since 1973.

    2
    Michelangelo Mangano moved to the US to work at Princeton just as String Theory was made popular. “After the first big explosion of interest, there’s always a period of slowing down, because all the easier stuff has been done. And you’re struggling with more complex issues,” he explains. “This is something that today’s young theorists are finding as they struggle to make waves in fields like the Standard Model. Unexpected findings from the LHC could reignite their enthusiasm and help younger researchers to feel like they can have an impact.” (Image: Maximillien Brice/CERN)

    With the discovery of the Higgs, there’s been a shift in this relationship, with theoreticians not necessarily leading the way. Instead, experiments look for data to try and give more evidence to the already proposed theories, and if something new is thrown up theorists scramble to explain and make sense of it.

    “It’s like when you go mushroom hunting,” says Michelangelo Mangano, a theoretical physicist who works closely with experimental physicists. “You spend all your energy looking, and at the end of the day you may not find anything. Here it’s the same, there is a lots of wasted energy because it doesn’t lead to much, but by exploring all corners of the field occasionally you find a little gold nugget, a perfect mushroom.”

    At the end of last year, both the ATLAS and CMS experiments at CERN found their mushroom, an intriguing, albeit very small, bump in the data.

    This little, unexpected bump could be the door to a whole host of new physics, because it could be a new particle. After the discovery of the Higgs most of the holes in the Standard Model had been sewn up, but many physicists were optimistic about finding new anomalies.

    “What happens in the future largely depends on what the LHC finds in its second run,” Ellis explains. “So if it turns out that there’s no other new physics and we’re focusing on understanding the Higgs boson better, that’s a different possible future for physics than if LHC Run 2 finds a new particle we need to understand.”

    While the bump is too small for physicists to announce it conclusively, there’s been hundreds of papers published by theoretical physicists as they leap to say what it might be.

    “Taking unexplained data, trying to fit it to your ideas about the universe, revising your ideas once you get more data, and on and on until you have unravelled the story of the universe – that’s the spirit of theoretical physics,” expresses Giudice.

    4
    John Ellis classifies himself as a ‘scientific optimist’, who is happy to pick up whatever tools are available to him to help solve the problems that he has thought up. ‘By nature I’m an optimist so anything can happen, yes, we might not see anything beyond the Higgs boson, but lets just wait and see.’ Here he is interviewed by Harriet Jarlett (left) in his office at CERN. (Image: Sophia Bennett/CERN)

    But we’ll only know whether it’s something worthwhile with the start of the LHC this month, May 2016, when experimental physicists can start to take even more data and conclude what it is.

    Next generation of theory

    This unusual period of quiet in the world of theoretical physics means students studying physics might be more likely to go into experimental physics, where the major discoveries are seen as happening more often, and where young physicists have a chance to be the first to a discovery.

    Speaking to the Summer Students at CERN, some of whom hope to become theoretical physicists, there is the feeling that this period of uncertainty makes following theory a luxury, one that young physicists, who need to have original ideas and publish lots of papers to get ahead, can’t afford.

    5
    Camille Bonvin is working as a fellow in the Theory Department on cosmology to try and understand why the universe is accelerating. If gravity is described by Einstein’s theory of general relativity the expansion should be slowing, not accelerating, which means there’s something we don’t understand. Bonvin is trying to find out what that is. Bonvin thinks the best theories are simple, consistent and make sense, like general relativity. “Einstein is completely logical, and his theory makes sense. Sometimes you have the impression of taking a theory which already exists and adding one element, then another, then another, to try and make the data fit it better, but its not a fundamental theory, so for me its not extremely beautiful.” (Image: Sophia Bennett/CERN)

    Camille Bonvin, a young theoretical physicist at CERN hopes that the data bump is the key to new physics, because without new discoveries it’s hard to keep a younger generation interested: “If both the LHC and the upcoming cosmological surveys find no new physics, it will be difficult to motivate new theorists. If you don’t know where to go or what to look for, it’s hard to see in which direction your research should go and which ideas you should explore.”

    The future’s bright

    4
    Richard Feynman

    Richard Feynman, one of the most famous theoretical physicists once joked, “Physics is like sex. Sure, it may give some practical results, but that’s not why we do it.”

    And Gian Giudice agrees –while the field’s current uncertainty makes it more difficult for young people to make breakthroughs, it’s not the promise of glory that encourages people to follow the theory path, but just a simple passion in why our universe is the way it is.

    “It must be difficult for the new generations of young researchers to enter theoretical physics now when it is not clear where different directions are leading to,” he says. “But it’s much more interesting to play when you don’t know what’s going to happen, rather than when the rules of the game have already been settled.”

    6
    “It’s much more interesting to play when you don’t know what’s going to happen, rather than when the rules of the game have already been settled,” says Giudice, who took on the role of leading the department in 2016 (Image: Sophia Bennett/ CERN) (Image: Sophia Bennett/CERN)

    Giudice, who took on the role of leading the theory department in January 2016 is optimistic that the turbulence the field currently faces makes it one of the most exciting times to become a theoretical physicist.

    “It has often been said that it is difficult to make predictions; especially about the future. It couldn’t be more true today in particle physics. This is what makes the present so exciting. Looking back in the history of physics you’ll see that moments of crisis and confusion were invariably followed by great revolutionary ideas. I hope it’s about to happen again,” smiles Giudice.

    See the full article here.

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    Meet CERN in a variety of places:

    Cern Courier

    THE FOUR MAJOR PROJECT COLLABORATIONS

    ATLAS
    CERN ATLAS New

    ALICE
    CERN ALICE New

    CMS
    CERN CMS New

    LHCb
    CERN LHCb New II

    LHC

    CERN LHC Map
    CERN LHC Grand Tunnel

    CERN LHC particles

    Quantum Diaries

     
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