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  • richardmitnick 10:35 am on August 21, 2015 Permalink | Reply
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    From FNAL: LHC Run II: first analysis 

    FNAL II photo

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

    Aug. 21, 2015
    FNAL Don Lincoln
    Don Lincoln

    CERN CMS Detector
    CMS Detector

    It was Lao-Tzu who said, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” While this proverb from the Tao Te Ching is universally true, it has an especially apropos meaning for scientists working at the LHC.

    CERN LHC Map
    CERN LHC Grand Tunnel
    CERN
    LHC at CERN

    Our journey isn’t always a physical one, but rather travels into intellectual realms never before investigated. We look to understand the behavior of matter at the highest energies ever achieved and to explore the conditions of the universe a tenth of a trillionth of a second after it began.

    Our one-step-at-a-time approach served us well using the data recorded from 2010–12 (what scientists called LHC Run I), in which the Higgs boson was discovered, vast swaths of ideas for new theories were ruled out and the most energetic collisions ever achieved were characterized.

    2
    Proposed Higgs event at CMS

    This was an enormous success, leading to about 1,000 separate publications from the four big LHC experiments. During this period, scientists thoroughly explored the behavior of matter at collision energies of 7 and then 8 trillion electronvolts.

    After two years downtime, the LHC resumed operations in 2015 (which we are calling Run II) and is now delivering beams of protons that collide at even higher energies, specifically 13 trillion electronvolts. There is no way to know what we will discover, as this is truly intellectual terra incognito.

    As it happens, not all collisions occur with equal probability. Glancing collisions can occur a billion times more often than, for example, ones in which Higgs bosons are made. This allows scientists to quickly study certain data while waiting for enough data to accumulate for the rarer collisions. In addition, in the rarer collisions, two of the protons’ constituents collide energetically, but the remainder experience only glancing interactions. Thus understanding the physics of glancing collisions is important even for events in which the discovery potential is much higher.

    On July 21, CMS submitted for publication the first physics paper using the Run II data. The analysis studied the most common collisions to characterize both the number and direction of charged particles created in the collisions. Even in these gentlest of collisions, more than 20 charged particles are created on average. Further, it is always possible when exploring a new energy regime that surprises might arise, so the researchers compared their measurement to those taken at lower collision energies and observed no real surprises.

    The real message is the LHC publication juggernaut has pounced on Run II data with a vengeance. This paper is the first, but it won’t be the last.

    See the full article here.

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    Fermilab Campus

    Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab), located just outside Batavia, Illinois, near Chicago, is a US Department of Energy national laboratory specializing in high-energy particle physics. Fermilab is America’s premier laboratory for particle physics and accelerator research, funded by the U.S. Department of Energy. Thousands of scientists from universities and laboratories around the world
    collaborate at Fermilab on experiments at the frontiers of discovery.

     
  • richardmitnick 7:53 pm on August 18, 2015 Permalink | Reply
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    From Don Lincoln at FNAL: “Pentaquarks” 

    CERN LHCb NewFNAL II photo

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

    FNAL Don Lincoln
    Don Lincoln

    Scientific research isn’t always simple; in fact, it’s often like rummaging around an unfamiliar room in the dark while wearing a blindfold. Under such conditions, it is inevitable that we have to make guesses about what we encounter. Sometimes those guesses turn out to be right and sometimes they don’t.

    This kind of exploratory research is especially true at the very frontier of human understanding and a recent announcement at the LHC [LHCb Collaboration] about a new form of matter called pentaquarks exemplifies this sort of investigation. The history of the search for pentaquarks involves previous observations that eventually faded under the light of more study. So what’s the deal with this recent announcement? Fermilab’s Dr. Don Lincoln tells us of the history of this interesting possible particle and gives us an idea of what we can expect in the near future.

    See the full article here.

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    Fermilab Campus

    Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab), located just outside Batavia, Illinois, near Chicago, is a US Department of Energy national laboratory specializing in high-energy particle physics. Fermilab is America’s premier laboratory for particle physics and accelerator research, funded by the U.S. Department of Energy. Thousands of scientists from universities and laboratories around the world
    collaborate at Fermilab on experiments at the frontiers of discovery.

     
  • richardmitnick 4:01 pm on August 4, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Don Lincoln, , Richard Dawkins Foundation   

    From Don Lincoln via Richard Dawkins Foundation: “Physicists find surprising ‘liquid-like’ particle interactions in Large Hadron Collider” 

    Richard Dawkins Foundation

    Richard Dawkins Foundation

    FNAL Don Lincoln
    Don Lincoln

    2
    Rice undergraduate student Benjamin Tran, graduate student Michael Northup, postdoctoral student Maxime Guilbaud and graduate students Zhenyu Chen and Zhoudunming Tu were part of the Rice team of physicists on the Large Hadron Collider’s Compact Muon Solenoid experiment that co-authored a paper describing the unexpected particle interactions from proton and lead-nuclei collisions. Credit: Zhoudunming Tu

    Three years ago, Rice physicists and their colleagues on the Large Hadron Collider’s (LHC’s) Compact Muon Solenoid (CMS) experiment stumbled on an unexpected phenomenon.

    CERN LHC Map
    CERN LHC Grand Tunnel
    CERN LHC particles
    CERN CMS Detector
    LHC with CMS (bottom)

    Physicists smashed protons into lead nuclei at nearly the speed of light, which caused hundreds of particles to erupt from these collisions. But that wasn’t the surprise. What was surprising is where these particles went: Rather than spreading out evenly in all directions, the particles coming out of the collisions preferentially lined up in a specific direction.

    Now, the Rice team has co-authored a paper that describes the unexpected particle interactions from these proton and lead-nuclei collisions.

    Particle detectors are shaped a little like a soup can. In these kinds of collisions, there is a tendency for particles to amass in a line along the axis of the can known as a “ridge.” Up until now, physicists understood a lot about what happens when a pair of protons or a pair of lead nuclei collide, but not a lot about what happens when a proton hits a lead nucleus: Would the hot nuclear matter coming out of the collision act like protons colliding, in which the post-collision particles coast along without feeling the effect of their neighbors? Or would the particles coming out of proton and lead collisions act in a more collective, liquid-like way as in lead-nuclei collisions?

    See the full article here.

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  • richardmitnick 10:52 am on July 31, 2015 Permalink | Reply
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    From Don Lincoln at FNAL: LHC Computing Video 

    FNAL II photo

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

    The LHC is the world’s highest energy particle accelerator and scientists use it to record an unprecedented amount of data. This data is recorded in electronic format and it requires an enormous computational infrastructure to convert the raw data into conclusions about the fundamental rules that govern matter. In this video, Fermilab’s Dr. Don Lincoln gives us a sense of just how much data is involved and the incredible computer resources that makes it all possible.

    Video can be downloaded see the below link.

    See the full article here.

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    Fermilab Campus

    Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab), located just outside Batavia, Illinois, near Chicago, is a US Department of Energy national laboratory specializing in high-energy particle physics. Fermilab is America’s premier laboratory for particle physics and accelerator research, funded by the U.S. Department of Energy. Thousands of scientists from universities and laboratories around the world collaborate at Fermilab on experiments at the frontiers of discovery.

     
  • richardmitnick 8:21 am on July 29, 2015 Permalink | Reply
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    From NOVA: “What the Heck is a Pentaquark?” 

    PBS NOVA

    NOVA

    28 Jul 2015
    FNAL Don Lincoln
    Don Lincoln

    What do you get when you combine four quarks and an antiquark?

    If you think this sounds like the opening of a particle physicists’ riddle, you aren’t too far off. Hypothetically, this particular quark combo makes a “pentaquark.” Despite decades of searching, physicists haven’t been able to actually find a pentaquark. Now, though, there’s a hint that two pentaquarks have unexpectedly come out of hiding.

    2
    Illustration of a possible layout of the quarks in a pentaquark particle such as those discovered at LHCb. © CERN

    If the new result holds up—a big if—the unexpected discovery would add a new species of particle to the standard model’s menagerie. But the measurements, recently announced by the team collaborating on the LHCb experiment, are truly perplexing.

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    LHCb on the LHC at CERN

    While the results were submitted for publication a couple of days ago, the first discussion in a large public conference occurred on July 23 at the 2015 meeting of the high energy physics division of the European Physical Society, where I had the opportunity to hear Sheldon Stone, who led the analysis, talk about the result. It’s certainly a topic of both excited and skeptical discussion here at the conference.

    Pentaquarks were first predicted in 1964 by Murray Gell-man and George Zweig in the separate and competing papers in which they first hypothesized the existence of quarks. (Gell-man’s name “quark” has stood the test of time, while Zweig independently proposed the now-defunct “aces.”) Physicists have looked for pentaquarks for a long time, unsuccessfully. We don’t know why there has been no evidence for their existence for so long. Maybe they don’t exist. Or maybe they do and the LHCb experiment has finally found them.

    Quarks are the building blocks of protons and neutrons and, as far as we know, they are the smallest basic units of matter. Quarks combine with other quarks according to the rules of quantum chromodynamics (QCD), which is the theory describing the behavior of the strong nuclear force, which is the strongest of the known subatomic forces. Pair a quark with an antiquark, and you’ve got a particle called a meson; three quarks make a baryon, like a proton or neutron. The new pentaquark—if it really is a pentaquark—seems to be made up of two up quarks, a down quark, and a charm quark/antiquark pair.

    The announcement is the latest chapter in a somewhat dubious story of now-you-see-now-you-don’t discovery. In 2002, scientists in Japan announced the discovery of a particle with a mass about 1.5 times that of a proton. They called it the Θ+, and argued that it was a kind of pentaquark. This announcement triggered a flurry of searches by other groups of experimenters, with some groups confirming the Θ+ and finding other particles that were claimed to be different pentaquark candidates, while other researchers found no evidence for any new particles at all. The excitement continued for three years until 2005, when the community decided that the original announcement was wrong. The death knell of the Θ+ sounded when a group of scientists at the Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility (TJNAF) in Newport News, Virginia, repeated the initial Japanese measurement with far more data. The TJNAF scientists saw no evidence for the existence of the Θ+, and the community consigned it to the dustbin of history as one of many particle “discoveries” that ultimately didn’t pan out.

    The particles recently announced by the LHCb experiment aren’t the Θ+. Instead, the new particles have a mass of about 4.5 times that of the proton. The LHCb team wasn’t actually searching for pentaquarks when they made their measurements. Instead, they were studying how a particle called the Λb baryon decays. To their surprise, they found that a fraction of the time, some of the “daughter” particles left behind by the decay seemed to be coming from an unknown parent particle. So what the heck was it?

    3
    The LCHb team found the potential pentaquarks while investigating how a Λb baryon decays into a J/ψ meson and a Λ* baryon, which in turn decays into a K- meson and a proton (p+). In such a complicated decay mode, it is customary to look at the three daughter particles two at a time and calculate what the mass of the parent particle could have made them. In the case of the K- meson and a proton, you’d expect to see that they preferentially came from a particle with a mass of a Λ* baryon. Since the J/ψ and the proton weren’t thought to come from the decay of a single particle, you’d expect to see no particular mass looking special—but, as seen here, the researchers saw that a fraction of the time, these two particles seemed to come from a parent with a specific mass. Could pentaquarks be the culprit? Image adapted by Don Lincoln.

    The LHCb team was unable to reconcile their measurements with any of the known or predicted particles of the Standard Model.

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    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.

    They seemed to need something new. After testing out lots of hypotheses, they considered the discredited pentaquarks. (Remember that pentaquarks are a prediction of the theory of QCD, they’ve just never been seen before.) One pentaquark wasn’t enough to fit their data, but two did the trick. When they included two new pentaquark particles in their calculations, the data and theory agreed.

    The two new particles have an unusual amount of quantum mechanical spin, specifically 3/2 and 5/2. (Protons, neutrons and electrons are all spin ½.) Like all particles that are bound by the strong nuclear force and decay under its rules, they live for a very short time, specifically about 10-23 seconds.

    Given the checkered history of previous pentaquark searches, physicists are naturally skeptical. So it is worth dissecting the claim. The first question is whether scientists are confident that they’ve discovered some kind of new particle. Here, the claim is on firmer ground: the two detections have significance of nine and 12 standard deviations respectively. (The usual standard in particle physics to claim the discovery of a phenomenon is five standard deviations, and larger numbers mean more certainty. Nine and 12 are very strong numbers.)

    It’s less certain whether the new particles are really pentaquarks. There are good reasons for skepticism: For one thing, the makeup of the new pentaquarks—two ups, a down, and a charm quark/antiquark pair—seems improbable. It should be easier to make a pentaquark consisting of only up and down quarks, which are lighter than charm quarks, and such a particle has never been discovered. Discovering a charm pentaquark first feels like going fishing and pulling up two sharks and no trout. A second possibility is that the new discovery is actually a sort of “molecule”: a particle called a J/ψ attached to a proton, roughly similar to how a deuteron is a proton and neutron bound together. Both have the same quark content, but only “five things in a bag” qualifies as a “real” pentaquark.

    When I caught up with Sheldon Stone during the coffee break after his talk at the conference, he speculated that the higher mass of the charm quarks could make the resulting pentaquark more stable or perhaps somehow makes this sort of pentaquark more likely to form. He cautioned, however, that this was speculation on his part and more work would be required to substantiate these ideas.

    Theoretical physicists are likewise skeptical. Frank Wilczek, professor of physics at MIT and winner of the Nobel Prize in physics for his contributions to the development of the theory of QCD was excited about the possibility of the existence of the pentaquark, but cautious about the measurement.

    So what will it take for the community to embrace this exciting development? Well, as Carl Sagan is famous for noting, extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. It is also true that independent confirmation is key. Accordingly, other LHC experiments will try to repeat the analysis approach reported by the LHCb collaboration in order to see if their measurement can be replicated. In addition, theorists will try to see if they can find a mechanism within QCD that will explain why pentaquarks containing charm quarks are more likely to form than ones with lighter quarks.

    Now, taking a more personal perspective, what do I think? First, Sheldon Stone made a persuasive and thorough case at his talk. I think the LHCb experiment is a world class collaboration, with some of the finest minds on the planet and ample experience in the subject matter. Further, they are well aware of the history of the pentaquark and would not lightly propose this hypothesis without adequate care. However, I am very cautious of claims of this nature, especially without confirmation from other experiments. I think the only sensible approach is to view the claim charitably, but critically. Taking a phrase from President Ronald Reagan, I “trust, but verify.” I think the next few months will be very interesting.

    See the full article here.

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    NOVA is the highest rated science series on television and the most watched documentary series on public television. It is also one of television’s most acclaimed series, having won every major television award, most of them many times over.

     
  • richardmitnick 10:26 am on July 23, 2015 Permalink | Reply
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    From Rice: “Rice physicists find surprising ‘liquid-like’ particle interactions in Large Hadron Collider” 

    Rice U bloc

    Rice University

    July 22, 2015

    2
    Don Lincoln

    Three years ago, Rice physicists and their colleagues on the Large Hadron Collider’s (LHC’s) Compact Muon Solenoid (CMS) experiment stumbled on an unexpected phenomenon.

    CERN CMS Detector
    CMS

    Physicists smashed protons into lead nuclei at nearly the speed of light, which caused hundreds of particles to erupt from these collisions. But that wasn’t the surprise. What was surprising is where these particles went: Rather than spreading out evenly in all directions, the particles coming out of the collisions preferentially lined up in a specific direction.

    Now, the Rice team has co-authored a paper that describes the unexpected particle interactions from these proton and lead-nuclei collisions.

    1
    Rice undergraduate student Benjamin Tran, graduate student Michael Northup, postdoctoral student Maxime Guilbaud and graduate students Zhenyu Chen and Zhoudunming Tu were part of the Rice team of physicists on the Large Hadron Collider’s Compact Muon Solenoid experiment that co-authored a paper describing the unexpected particle interactions from proton and lead-nuclei collisions. (Photo by Zhoudunming Tu)

    Particle detectors are shaped a little like a soup can. In these kinds of collisions, there is a tendency for particles to amass in a line along the axis of the can known as a “ridge.” Up until now, physicists understood a lot about what happens when a pair of protons or a pair of lead nuclei collide, but not a lot about what happens when a proton hits a lead nucleus: Would the hot nuclear matter coming out of the collision act like protons colliding, in which the post-collision particles coast along without feeling the effect of their neighbors? Or would the particles coming out of proton and lead collisions act in a more collective, liquid-like way as in lead-nuclei collisions?

    In the recent Physical Review Letters paper, Rice physicists and co-authors returned to this mystery with more data than ever before. Physics Professor Wei Li, who discovered the phenomenon, led the team of scientists who analyzed the new data. They found that the data strongly supported that the matter coming out of these proton and lead collisions acts more like a liquid. This result was surprising because when the proton hits the lead nucleus, it punches a hole through much of the nucleus, like shooting a rifle at a watermelon (as opposed to colliding two lead nuclei, which is like slamming two watermelons together). Wei and his collaborators studied this surprising behavior by looking at six or eight particles simultaneously and how their directions correlated. This method is far more sensitive for identifying liquid-like behavior than the older method, which looked at particles two at a time. Li’s group also developed an algorithm called a trigger that records a small number of important collisions in the CMS detector among billions of candidates, allowing the researchers to efficiently investigate this interesting phenomenon.

    The data used in this analysis was recorded in March 2013 before the LHC stopped operations for refurbishments, retrofits and upgrades. This past June the LHC resumed operations with a 60 percent increase in collision energy. In December of this year, Li’s group will reconfigure the LHC accelerator to collide lead nuclei and see what sort of surprises this increase in collision energy will bring.

    This study helps scientists characterize a state of matter called a “quark-gluon plasma,” or QGP. This is similar to the familiar solid, liquid and gaseous states of matter, but much hotter. A QGP occurs when matter is heated to temperatures high enough to literally melt protons and neutrons at the center of atomic nuclei; the last time that a QGP was common in the universe was a mere millionth of a second after the Big Bang. The liquid-like nature of the QGP was a surprise to scientists, as they predicted a more gaseous-like behavior. Learning more about quark-gluon plasma will teach us something significant about the birth of the universe itself.

    See the full article here.

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    Rice U campus

    In his 1912 inaugural address, Rice University president Edgar Odell Lovett set forth an ambitious vision for a great research university in Houston, Texas; one dedicated to excellence across the range of human endeavor. With this bold beginning in mind, and with Rice’s centennial approaching, it is time to ask again what we aspire to in a dynamic and shrinking world in which education and the production of knowledge will play an even greater role. What shall our vision be for Rice as we prepare for its second century, and how ought we to advance over the next decade?

    This was the fundamental question posed in the Call to Conversation, a document released to the Rice community in summer 2005. The Call to Conversation asked us to reexamine many aspects of our enterprise, from our fundamental mission and aspirations to the manner in which we define and achieve excellence. It identified the pressures of a constantly changing and increasingly competitive landscape; it asked us to assess honestly Rice’s comparative strengths and weaknesses; and it called on us to define strategic priorities for the future, an effort that will be a focus of the next phase of this process.

     
  • richardmitnick 10:44 am on June 27, 2015 Permalink | Reply
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    From Don Lincoln at FNAL: “Gravitational Lensing” 

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

    FNAL Don Lincoln
    Don Lincoln

    In a long line of intellectual triumphs, [Albert] Einstein’s theory of general relativity was his greatest and most imaginative. It tells us that what we experience as gravity can be most accurately described as the bending of space itself. This idea leads to consequences, including gravitational lensing, which is caused by light traveling in this curved space. This is works in a way analogous to a lens (and hence the name). In this video, Fermilab’s Dr. Don Lincoln explains a little general relativity, a little gravitational lensing, and tells us how this phenomenon allows us to map out the matter of the entire universe, including the otherwise-invisible dark matter.

    Watch, enjoy, learn.

    See the full article here.

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    Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab), located just outside Batavia, Illinois, near Chicago, is a US Department of Energy national laboratory specializing in high-energy particle physics. Fermilab is America’s premier laboratory for particle physics and accelerator research, funded by the U.S. Department of Energy. Thousands of scientists from universities and laboratories around the world
    collaborate at Fermilab on experiments at the frontiers of discovery.

     
  • richardmitnick 2:10 pm on June 3, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Don Lincoln   

    From Don Lincoln of FNAL: Video -“The LHC Experiments” 

    The Large Hadron Collider or LHC is the world’s biggest particle accelerator, but it can only get particles moving very quickly. To make measurements, scientists must employ particle detectors. There are four big detectors at the LHC: ALICE, ATLAS, CMS, and LHCb. In this video, Fermilab’s Dr. Don Lincoln introduces us to these detectors and gives us an idea of each one’s capabilities.

    Watch, enjoy, learn.

    See the full article here.

    THE FOUR MAJOR PROJECT COLLABORATIONS

    ATLAS
    CERN ATLAS New
    ALICE
    CERN ALICE New

    CMS
    CERN CMS New

    LHCb
    CERN LHCb New

    LHC

    CERN LHC New
    CERN LHC Grand Tunnel

    LHC particles

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  • richardmitnick 6:09 am on May 8, 2015 Permalink | Reply
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    From FNAL: Don Lincoln on Quark-Gluon Plasma 

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

    Matter is malleable and can change its properties with temperature. This is most familiar when comparing ice, liquid water and steam, which are all different forms of the same thing. However beyond the usual states of matter, physicists can explore other states, both much colder and hotter. In this video, Fermilab’s Dr. Don Lincoln explains the hottest known state of matter – a state that is so hot that protons and neutrons from the center of atoms can literally melt. This form of matter is called a quark gluon plasma and it is an important research topic being pursued at the LHC.

    CERN LHC MapCERN LHC Grand Tunnel
    CERN LHC particles
    LHC at CERN


    Download is available at the full article link below.

    Watch, enjoy, learn.

    See the full article here.

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    Fermilab Campus

    Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab), located just outside Batavia, Illinois, near Chicago, is a US Department of Energy national laboratory specializing in high-energy particle physics. Fermilab is America’s premier laboratory for particle physics and accelerator research, funded by the U.S. Department of Energy. Thousands of scientists from universities and laboratories around the world
    collaborate at Fermilab on experiments at the frontiers of discovery.

     
  • richardmitnick 9:24 am on April 20, 2015 Permalink | Reply
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    From Don Lincoln at FNAL: “Complex Dark Matter” 

    FNAL Home

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

    FNAL Don Lincoln
    Don Lincoln

    After a century of study, scientists have come to the realization that the ordinary matter made of atoms is a minority in the universe. In order to explain observations, it appears that there exists a new and undiscovered kind of matter, called dark matter, that is five times more prevalent than ordinary matter. The evidence for this new matter’s existence is very strong, but scientists know only a little about its nature. In today’s video, Fermilab’s Dr. Don Lincoln talks about an exciting and unconventional idea, specifically that dark matter might have a very complex set of structures and interactions. While this idea is entirely speculative, it is an interesting hypothesis and one that scientists are investigating.

    See the full article here.

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

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    Fermilab Campus

    Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab), located just outside Batavia, Illinois, near Chicago, is a US Department of Energy national laboratory specializing in high-energy particle physics. Fermilab is America’s premier laboratory for particle physics and accelerator research, funded by the U.S. Department of Energy. Thousands of scientists from universities and laboratories around the world
    collaborate at Fermilab on experiments at the frontiers of discovery.

     
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