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  • richardmitnick 8:21 am on July 29, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Don Lincoln, , , Pentaquarks   

    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.

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    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.

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    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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    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 2:10 pm on June 3, 2015 Permalink | Reply
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    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” 

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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

    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.

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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 1:20 pm on March 12, 2015 Permalink | Reply
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    From Don Lincoln at FNAL: The Detectors at the LHC 

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

    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.

    CERN LHC Map
    CERN LHC Grand Tunnel
    CERN LHC particles

    CERN ALICE New II
    ALICE

    CERN ATLAS New
    ATLAS

    CERN CMS New
    CMS

    CERN LHCb New II
    LHCb

    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.

     
  • richardmitnick 10:52 am on February 19, 2015 Permalink | Reply
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    From FNAL: “Physics in a Nutshell How many forces?” 

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

    Thursday, Feb. 19, 2015
    FNAL Don Lincoln
    Don Lincoln

    1
    Unlike in Star Wars, where there was but one force with a light and dark side, the number of fundamental forces is a much murkier question.

    If you’ve read many of my columns, you know quite a bit about the Standard Model.

    3
    The Standard Model of elementary particles (more complete depiction), including the Higgs boson, the three generations of matter fields, and the gauge bosons, as well as their properties and interactions, and the effect of spontaneous electroweak symmetry breaking by the Higgs field.

    You know that there are quarks and leptons. You’ve heard about the gluon, the W and Z bosons, the photon and the graviton. And you know that this means that there are four fundamental forces: the strong and weak nuclear forces, electromagnetism, and gravity. Easy peasy.

    However, the reality is actually a lot murkier: Not all forces are independent. For instance, back in the 1830s, scientists knew of two distinct forces: electricity and magnetism. But when Maxwell wrote down his equations for electric and magnetic forces in the 1860s, it became clear that the two were really one force, electromagnetism.

    Similarly, in the late 1960s, physicists mathematically unified the electromagnetic and weak forces and showed that there was just one electroweak force. Under this reasoning, there are only three forces in nature: strong, electroweak and gravity.

    But then the Higgs boson was discovered in 2012, indicating yet another force, specifically the Higgs force. So now we’re back up to four. On the other hand, the Higgs mechanism is the phenomenon that makes the weak force and electromagnetism appear to be different. So maybe it’s tied in with the electroweak force. That statement is as much speculation as theory, but it would bring the number of fundamental forces back down to three.

    And then there is the hope of physicists to unify the electroweak force and the strong force into a single grand unified theory, or GUT. This would reduce the force count to two: the electroweak-strong-Higgs force and the gravitational force. We physicists are an ambitious lot, and we eventually hope to invent a theory of everything or TOE, which would unify GUT and gravity. This would leave us with but a single force, and the apparent fundamental forces would just be different manifestations of the one primordial force.

    So where does that leave us? Well, it’s probably safe to talk of five fundamental forces (strong, weak, electromagnetism, gravity and Higgs) and probably more accurate to speak of four (strong, electroweak, gravity and Higgs). But physicists are constantly trying to figure out the fundamental rules of the universe, and perhaps we are just a clever thought or two away from reducing that count further.

    The bottom line is that giving a number requires that you know what you are doing and what assumptions you are making. Physics, like all science, is a fluid endeavor and changes as our understanding improves. It’s not the number that matters, but rather knowing what the number means. Unless we’re talking lottery numbers. Then you better get it right.

    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.

     
  • richardmitnick 2:47 pm on January 23, 2015 Permalink | Reply
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    From Symmetry: “Superconducting electromagnets of the LHC” 

    Symmetry

    January 23, 2015

    FNAL Don Lincoln
    This article was written by Don Lincoln, Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory

    You won’t find these magnets in your kitchen.

    1
    Photo by Maximilien Brice, CERN

    Magnets are something most of us are familiar with, but you may not know that magnets are an integral part of almost all modern particle accelerators. These magnets aren’t the same as the one that held your art to your parent’s refrigerator when you were a kid. Although they have a north and south pole just as your fridge magnets do, accelerator magnets require quite a bit of engineering.

    When an electrically charged particle such as a proton moves through a constant magnetic field, it moves in a circular path. The size of the circle depends on both the strength of the magnets and the energy of the beam. Increase the energy, and the ring gets bigger; increase the strength of the magnets, the ring gets smaller.

    The Large Hadron Collider is an accelerator, a crucial word that reminds us that we use it to increase the energy of the beam particles. If the strength of the magnets remained the same, then as we increased the beam energy, the size of the ring would similarly have to increase. Since the size of the ring necessarily remains the same, we must increase the strength of the magnets as the beam energy is increased. For that reason, particle accelerators employ a special kind of magnet.

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

    When you run an electric current through a wire, it creates a magnetic field; the strength of the magnetic field is proportional to the amount of electric current. Magnets created this way are called electromagnets. By controlling the amount of current, we can make electromagnets of any strength we want. We can even reverse the magnet’s polarity by reversing the direction of the current.

    Given the connection between electrical current and magnetic field strength, it is clear that we need huge currents in our accelerator magnets. To accomplish this, we use superconductors, materials that lose their resistance to electric current when they are cooled enough. And “cooled” is an understatement. At 1.9 Kelvin (about 450 degrees Fahrenheit below zero), the centers of the magnets at the LHC are one of the coldest places in the universe—colder than the temperature of space between galaxies.

    Given the central role of magnets in modern accelerators, scientists and engineers at Fermilab and CERN are constantly working to make even stronger ones. Although the main LHC magnets can generate a magnetic field about 800,000 times that generated by the Earth, future accelerators will require even more. The technology of electromagnets, first observed in the early 1800s, is a vibrant and crucial part of the laboratories’ futures.

    See the full article here.

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    Symmetry is a joint Fermilab/SLAC publication.


     
  • richardmitnick 3:39 pm on January 21, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Don Lincoln, , GUTS and TOES   

    From Don Lincoln at FNAL: “GUTS and TOES” 

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

    Albert Einstein said that what he wanted to know was “God’s thoughts,” which is a metaphor for the ultimate and most basic rules of the universe. Once known, all other phenomena would then be a consequence of these simple rules. While modern science is far from that goal, we have some thoughts on how this inquiry might unfold. In this video, Fermilab’s Dr. Don Lincoln tells what we know about GUTs (grand unified theories) and TOEs (theories of everything).

    Watch, enjoy, learn.

    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.

     
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