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  • richardmitnick 9:52 am on May 19, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Longstanding mystery of matter and antimatter may be solved", , , Matter and Antimatter, , , University of the West of Scotland   

    From phys.org: “Longstanding mystery of matter and antimatter may be solved” 

    May 19, 2020

    Thorium-228. Credit: University of the West of Scotland

    An element which could hold the key to the long-standing mystery around why there is much more matter than antimatter in our Universe has been discovered by a University of the West of Scotland (UWS)-led team of physicists.

    The UWS and University of Strathclyde academics have discovered, in research published in the journal Nature Physics, that one of the isotopes of the element thorium possesses the most pear-shaped nucleus yet to be discovered. Nuclei similar to thorium-228 may now be able to be used to perform new tests to try find the answer to the mystery surrounding matter and antimatter.

    UWS’s Dr. David O’Donnell, who led the project, said: “Our research shows that, with good ideas, world-leading nuclear physics experiments can be performed in university laboratories.

    “This work augments the experiments which nuclear physicists at UWS are leading at large experimental facilities around the world. Being able to perform experiments like this one provides excellent training for our students.”

    Physics explains that the Universe is composed of fundamental particles such as the electrons which are found in every atom. The Standard Model, the best theory physicists have to describe the sub-atomic properties of all the matter in the Universe, predicts that each fundamental particle can have a similar antiparticle.

    If we allow X and Y particles to decay into the quarks and lepton combinations shown, their… [+] E. Siegel / Beyond The Galaxy

    Collectively the antiparticles, which are almost identical to their matter counterparts except they carry opposite charge, are known as antimatter.

    According to the Standard Model, matter and antimatter should have been created in equal quantities at the time of the Big Bang—yet our Universe is made almost entirely of matter.

    In theory, an electric dipole moment (EDM) could allow matter and antimatter to decay at different rates, providing an explanation for the asymmetry in matter and antimatter in our universe.

    Pear-shaped nuclei have been proposed as ideal physical systems in which to look for the existence of an EDM in a fundamental particle such as an electron. The pear shape means that the nucleus generates an EDM by having the protons and neutrons distributed non-uniformly throughout the nuclear volume.

    Through experiments conducted in laboratories at UWS’s Paisley Campus, researchers have found that the nuclei in thorium-228 atoms have the most pronounced pear shape to be discovered so far. As a result, nuclei like thorium-228 have been identified as ideal candidates to search for the existence of an EDM.

    The research team was made up of Dr. O’Donnell, Dr. Michael Bowry, Dr. Bondili Sreenivasa Nara Singh, Professor Marcus Scheck, Professor John F Smith and Dr. Pietro Spagnoletti from UWS’s School of Computing, Engineering and Physical Sciences; and the University of Strathclyde’s Professor Dino Jaroszynski, and Ph.D. students Majid Chishti and Giorgio Battaglia.

    Professor Dino Jaroszynski, Director of the Scottish Centre for the Application of Plasma-based Accelerators (SCAPA) at the University of Strathclyde, said: “This collaborative effort, which draws on the expertise of a diverse group of scientists, is an excellent example of how working together can lead to a major breakthrough. It highlights the collaborative spirit within the Scottish physics community fostered by the Scottish University Physics Alliance (SUPA) and lays the groundwork for our collaborative experiments at SCAPA.”

    The experiments began with a sample of thorium-232, which has a half-life of 14 billion years, meaning it decays very slowly. The decay chain of this nucleus creates excited quantum mechanical states of the nucleus thorium-228. Such states decay within nanoseconds of being created, by emitting gamma rays.

    Dr. O’Donnell and his team used highly sensitive state-of-the-art scintillator detectors to detect these ultra-rare and fast decays. With careful configuration of detectors and signal-processing electronics, the research team have been able to precisely measure the lifetime of the excited quantum states, with an accuracy of two trillionths of a second. The shorter the lifetime of the quantum state the more pronounced the pear shape of the thorium-228 nucleus—giving researchers a better chance of finding an EDM.

    See the full article here .


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  • richardmitnick 10:27 am on May 12, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , Matter and Antimatter, , ,   

    From Lawrence Berkeley National Lab: “Berkeley Lab COVID-19 related research and additional information. News Center CUORE Underground Experiment in Italy Carries on Despite Pandemic” 

    From Lawrence Berkeley National Lab

    May 12, 2020
    Glenn Roberts Jr.
    (510) 520-0843

    Laura Marini, a postdoctoral researcher at UC Berkeley and a Berkeley Lab affiliate who serves as a run coordinator for the underground CUORE experiment, shares her experiences of working on CUORE and living near Gran Sasso during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Credit: Marilyn Sargent/Berkeley Lab)

    Note: This is the first part in a recurring series highlighting Berkeley Lab’s ongoing work in international physics collaborations during the pandemic.

    As the COVID-19 outbreak took hold in Italy, researchers working on a nuclear physics experiment called CUORE at an underground laboratory in central Italy scrambled to keep the ultrasensitive experiment running and launch new tools and rules for remote operations.

    This Cryogenic Underground Observatory for Rare Events experiment – designed to find a never-before-seen process involving ghostly particles known as neutrinos, to explain why matter won out over antimatter in our universe, and to also hunt for signs of mysterious dark matter – is carrying on with its data-taking uninterrupted while some other projects and experiments around the globe have been put on hold.

    Finding evidence for these rare processes requires long periods of data collection – and a lot of patience. CUORE has been collecting data since May 2017, and after upgrade efforts in 2018 and 2019 the experiment has been running continuously.

    Before the pandemic hit there were already tools in place that stabilized the extreme cooling required for CUORE’s detectors and provided some remote controls and monitoring of CUORE systems, noted Yury Kolomensky, senior faculty scientist at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) and the U.S. spokesperson for CUORE.

    The rapid global spread of the disease, and related restrictions on access to the CUORE experiment at Gran Sasso National Laboratory (Laboratori Nazionali del Gran Sasso, or LNGS, operated by the Italian Nuclear Physics Institute, INFN) in central Italy, prompted CUORE leadership and researchers – working in three continents – to act quickly to ramp up the remote controls to prepare for an extended period with only limited access to the experiment.

    CUORE experiment,at the Italian National Institute for Nuclear Physics’ (INFN’s) Gran Sasso National Laboratories (LNGS) in located in the Abruzzo region of central Italy,a search for neutrinoless double beta decay

    Gran Sasso LABORATORI NAZIONALI del GRAN SASSO, located in the Abruzzo region of central Italy

    Just days before the new restrictions went into effect at Gran Sasso, CUORE leadership on March 4 made the decision to rapidly deploy a new remote system and to work out the details of how to best maintain the experiment with limited staffing and with researchers monitoring in different time zones. The new system was fully operational about a week later, and researchers at Berkeley Lab played a role in rolling it out.

    “We were already planning to transition to remote shift operations, whereby a scientist at a home institution would monitor the systems in real time, respond to alarms, and call on-site and on-call personnel in case an emergency intervention is needed,” Kolomensky said, adding, “We were commissioning the system at the time of the outbreak.”

    Brad Welliver, a postdoctoral researcher, served as Berkeley Lab’s lead developer for the new remote monitoring system, and Berkeley Lab staff scientist Brian Fujikawa was the overall project lead for the enhanced remote controls, collectively known as CORC, for CUORE Online/Offline Run Check.

    Fujikawa tested controls for starting and stopping the data collection process, and also performed other electronics testing for the experiment from his home in the San Francisco Bay Area.

    He noted that the system is programmed to send email and voice alarms to the designated on-shift CUORE researcher if something is awry with any CUORE system. “This alarm system is particularly important when operating CUORE remotely,” he said, as in some cases on-site workers may need to visit the experiment promptly to perform repairs or other needed work.

    Development of so-called “slow controls,” which allow researchers to monitor and control CUORE equipment such as pumps and sensors, was led by Joe Johnston at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

    “Now we can perform most of the operations from 6,000 miles away,” Kolomensky said.

    And many participants across the collaboration continue to play meaningful roles in the experiment from their homes, from analyzing data and writing papers to participating in long-term planning and remote meetings.

    Despite access restrictions at Gran Sasso, experiments are still accessible for necessary work and checkups. The laboratory remains open in a limited way, and its staff still maintains all of its needed services and equipment, from shuttles to computing services.

    Laura Marini, a postdoctoral researcher at UC Berkeley who serves as a run coordinator for CUORE and is now living near Gran Sasso, is among a handful of CUORE researchers who still routinely visits the lab site.

    “As a run coordinator, I need to make sure that the experiment works fine and the data quality is good,” she said. “Before the pandemic spread, I was going underground maybe not every day, but at least a few times a week.” Now, it can be about once every two weeks.

    Sometimes she is there to carry out simple fixes, like a stuck computer that needs to be restarted, she said. Now, in addition to the requisite hard hat and heavy shoes, Marini – like so many others around the globe who are continuing to work – must wear a mask and gloves to guard against the spread of COVID-19.

    The simple act of driving into the lab site can be complicated, too, she said. “The other day, I had to go underground and the police stopped me. So I had to fill in a paper to declare why I was going underground, the fact that it was needed, and that I was not just wandering around by car,” she said. Restrictions in Italy prevent most types of travel.

    Laura Marini now wears a protective mask and gloves, in addition to a hard hat, during her visits to the CUORE experiment site. (Credit: Gran Sasso National Laboratory – INFN)

    CUORE researchers note that they are fortunate the experiment was already in a state of steady data-taking when the pandemic hit. “There is no need for continuous intervention,” Marini said. “We can do most of our checks by remote.”

    She said she is grateful to be part of an international team that has “worked together on a common goal and continues to do so” despite the present-day challenges.

    Kolomensky noted some of the regular maintenance and upgrades planned for CUORE will be put off as a result of the shelter-in-place restrictions, though there also appears to be an odd benefit of the reduced activity at the Gran Sasso site. “We see an overall reduction in the detector noise, which we attribute to a significantly lower level of activity at the underground lab and less traffic in the highway tunnel,” he said. Researchers are working to verify this.

    CUORE already had systems in place to individually and remotely monitor data-taking by each of the experiment’s 988 detectors. Benjamin Schmidt, a Berkeley Lab postdoctoral researcher, had even developed software that automatically flags periods of “noisy” or poor data-taking captured by CUORE’s array of detectors.

    Kolomensky noted that work on the CORC remote tools is continuing. “As we have gained more experience and discovered issues, improvements and bug fixes have been implemented, and these efforts are still ongoing,” he said.

    CUORE is supported by the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science, Italy’s National Institute of Nuclear Physics (Instituto Nazionale di Fisica Nucleare, or INFN), and the National Science Foundation (NSF). CUORE collaboration members include: INFN, University of Bologna, University of Genoa, University of Milano-Bicocca, and Sapienza University in Italy; California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo; Berkeley Lab; Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory; Massachusetts Institute of Technology; University of California, Berkeley; University of California, Los Angeles; University of South Carolina; Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University; and Yale University in the US; Saclay Nuclear Research Center (CEA) and the Irène Joliot-Curie Laboratory (CNRS/IN2P3, Paris Saclay University) in France; and Fudan University and Shanghai Jiao Tong University in China.

    See the full article here .


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    In the world of science, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) is synonymous with “excellence.” Thirteen Nobel prizes are associated with Berkeley Lab. Seventy Lab scientists are members of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS), one of the highest honors for a scientist in the United States. Thirteen of our scientists have won the National Medal of Science, our nation’s highest award for lifetime achievement in fields of scientific research. Eighteen of our engineers have been elected to the National Academy of Engineering, and three of our scientists have been elected into the Institute of Medicine. In addition, Berkeley Lab has trained thousands of university science and engineering students who are advancing technological innovations across the nation and around the world.

    Berkeley Lab is a member of the national laboratory system supported by the U.S. Department of Energy through its Office of Science. It is managed by the University of California (UC) and is charged with conducting unclassified research across a wide range of scientific disciplines. Located on a 202-acre site in the hills above the UC Berkeley campus that offers spectacular views of the San Francisco Bay, Berkeley Lab employs approximately 3,232 scientists, engineers and support staff. The Lab’s total costs for FY 2014 were $785 million. A recent study estimates the Laboratory’s overall economic impact through direct, indirect and induced spending on the nine counties that make up the San Francisco Bay Area to be nearly $700 million annually. The Lab was also responsible for creating 5,600 jobs locally and 12,000 nationally. The overall economic impact on the national economy is estimated at $1.6 billion a year. Technologies developed at Berkeley Lab have generated billions of dollars in revenues, and thousands of jobs. Savings as a result of Berkeley Lab developments in lighting and windows, and other energy-efficient technologies, have also been in the billions of dollars.

    Berkeley Lab was founded in 1931 by Ernest Orlando Lawrence, a UC Berkeley physicist who won the 1939 Nobel Prize in physics for his invention of the cyclotron, a circular particle accelerator that opened the door to high-energy physics. It was Lawrence’s belief that scientific research is best done through teams of individuals with different fields of expertise, working together. His teamwork concept is a Berkeley Lab legacy that continues today.

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  • richardmitnick 1:50 pm on October 18, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , Matter and Antimatter, ,   

    From Symmetry: “Five mysteries the Standard Model can’t explain” 

    Symmetry Mag
    From Symmetry

    Oscar Miyamoto Gomez

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

    Standard Model of Particle Physics from Symmetry Magazine

    Our best model of particle physics explains only about 5 percent of the universe.

    The Standard Model is a thing of beauty. It is the most rigorous theory of particle physics, incredibly precise and accurate in its predictions. It mathematically lays out the 17 building blocks of nature: six quarks, six leptons, four force-carrier particles, and the Higgs boson. These are ruled by the electromagnetic, weak and strong forces.

    “As for the question ‘What are we?’ the Standard Model has the answer,” says Saúl Ramos, a researcher at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM). “It tells us that every object in the universe is not independent, and that every particle is there for a reason.”

    For the past 50 years such a system has allowed scientists to incorporate particle physics into a single equation that explains most of what we can see in the world around us.

    Despite its great predictive power, however, the Standard Model fails to answer five crucial questions, which is why particle physicists know their work is far from done.

    Illustration by Sandbox Studio, Chicago with Ana Kova

    1. Why do neutrinos have mass?

    Three of the Standard Model’s particles are different types of neutrinos. The Standard Model predicts that, like photons, neutrinos should have no mass.

    However, scientists have found that the three neutrinos oscillate, or transform into one another, as they move. This feat is only possible because neutrinos are not massless after all.

    “If we use the theories that we have today, we get the wrong answer,” says André de Gouvêa, a professor at Northwestern University.

    The Standard Model got neutrinos wrong, but it remains to be seen just how wrong. After all, the masses neutrinos have are quite small.

    Is that all the Standard Model missed, or is there more that we don’t know about neutrinos? Some experimental results have suggested, for example, that there might be a fourth type of neutrino called a sterile neutrino that we have yet to discover.

    Illustration by Sandbox Studio, Chicago with Ana Kova

    2. What is dark matter?

    Scientists realized they were missing something when they noticed that galaxies were spinning much faster than they should be, based on the gravitational pull of their visible matter. They were spinning so fast that they should have torn themselves apart. Something we can’t see, which scientists have dubbed “dark matter,” must be giving additional mass—and hence gravitional pull—to these galaxies.

    Dark matter is thought to make up 27 percent of the contents of the universe. But it is not included in the Standard Model.

    Scientists are looking for ways to study this mysterious matter and identify its building blocks. If scientists could show that dark matter interacts in some way with normal matter, “we still would need a new model, but it would mean that new model and the Standard Model are connected,” says Andrea Albert, a researcher at the US Department of Energy’s SLAC National Laboratory who studies dark matter, among other things, at the High-Altitude Water Cherenkov Observatory in Mexico. “That would be a huge game changer.”

    HAWC High Altitude Cherenkov Experiment, located on the flanks of the Sierra Negra volcano in the Mexican state of Puebla at an altitude of 4100 meters(13,500ft), at WikiMiniAtlas 18°59′41″N 97°18′30.6″W. searches for cosmic rays

    Illustration by Sandbox Studio, Chicago with Ana Kova

    3. Why is there so much matter in the universe?

    Whenever a particle of matter comes into being—for example, in a particle collision in the Large Hadron Collider or in the decay of another particle—normally its antimatter counterpart comes along for the ride. When equal matter and antimatter particles meet, they annihilate one another.

    Scientists suppose that when the universe was formed in the Big Bang, matter and antimatter should have been produced in equal parts. However, some mechanism kept the matter and antimatter from their usual pattern of total destruction, and the universe around us is dominated by matter.

    The Standard Model cannot explain the imbalance. Many different experiments are studying matter and antimatter in search of clues as to what tipped the scales.

    Illustration by Sandbox Studio, Chicago with Ana Kova

    4. Why is the expansion of the universe accelerating?

    Before scientists were able to measure the expansion of our universe, they guessed that it had started out quickly after the Big Bang and then, over time, had begun to slow. So it came as a shock that, not only was the universe’s expansion not slowing down—it was actually speeding up.

    The latest measurements by the Hubble Space Telescope and the European Space Agency observatory Gaia indicate that galaxies are moving away from us at 45 miles per second. That speed multiplies for each additional megaparsec, a distance of 3.2 million light years, relative to our position.

    This rate is believed to come from an unexplained property of space-time called dark energy, which is pushing the universe apart. It is thought to make up around 68 percent of the energy in the universe. “That is something very fundamental that nobody could have anticipated just by looking at the Standard Model,” de Gouvêa says.

    Illustration by Sandbox Studio, Chicago with Ana Kova

    5. Is there a particle associated with the force of gravity?

    The Standard Model was not designed to explain gravity. This fourth and weakest force of nature does not seem to have any impact on the subatomic interactions the Standard Model explains.

    But theoretical physicists think a subatomic particle called a graviton might transmit gravity the same way particles called photons carry the electromagnetic force.

    “After the existence of gravitational waves was confirmed by LIGO, we now ask: What is the smallest gravitational wave possible? This is pretty much like asking what a graviton is,” says Alberto Güijosa, a professor at the Institute of Nuclear Sciences at UNAM.

    More to explore

    These five mysteries are the big questions of physics in the 21st century, Ramos says. Yet, there are even more fundamental enigmas, he says: What is the source of space-time geometry? Where do particles get their spin? Why is the strong force so strong while the weak force is so weak?

    There’s much left to explore, Güijosa says. “Even if we end up with a final and perfect theory of everything in our hands, we would still perform experiments in different situations in order to push its limits.”

    “It is a very classic example of the scientific method in action,” Albert says. “With each answer come more questions; nothing is ever done.”

    See the full article here .


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    Symmetry is a joint Fermilab/SLAC publication.

  • richardmitnick 2:16 pm on April 7, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: 90 percent of the universe you cannot see, Every particle has an antiparticle, , Matter and Antimatter, , Nobel Prize in 1976 with Burton Richter for discovering the subatomic J/ψ particle, , Sam Ting-Samuel Chao Chung Ting, The community realized that the J/ ψ was made up of a fourth quark dubbed the charm quark and its antiparticle, The J/ ψ particle changed the basic concept of physics,   

    From University of Michigan: ” Q&A with Samuel Ting Nobel Laureate and Michigan Engineer” 

    U Michigan bloc

    University of Michigan

    February 28, 2018 [Just today in social media.]

    Kate McAlpine
    Senior Writer & Assistant News Editor
    Michigan Engineering
    Communications & Marketing
    (734) 763-4386
    3214 SI-North

    Michigan Engineer New Center

    Samuel Chao Chung Ting is shown at Massachusetts Institute of Technology on Nov. 1, 1976. Ting, a longtime MIT professor, was co-winner of the Nobel Prize for physics in that year. (Photo: AP Photo. Previous image: Image of matter distribution in the universe from the Millennium Simulation Project, Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics.)

    Samuel C.C. Ting received the Nobel Prize in 1976, with Burton Richter, for discovering the subatomic J/ψ particle. He is the principal investigator for the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer experiment on the International Space Station, a $2 billion project installed in 2011.

    Here, Ting (BS ’59 Eng Phys, Eng Math, MS ’60 LSA, PhD ’62 LSA) talks about his time at Michigan, the discovery that brought the November Revolution in physics, and the most sophisticated particle physics experiment in space.

    How did you end up coming to Michigan?

    I was born in Ann Arbor, Michigan. And three months after I was born, war between Japan and China broke out. My parents decided to return to China.

    So I grew up during wartime in China. I never had a chance to go to school. In 1948, we went to Taiwan. Then, my father was a professor of engineering, and my mother was a professor of psychology. Both of them had come to graduate school in Michigan. My mother was very active in the University of Michigan alumni association. I think she was the president.

    One day, I think the trustees of Michigan, together with the dean of engineering, visited Taiwan. My mother arranged the program for them, and that’s how I met G.G. Brown [George Granger Brown, Edward DeMille Campbell University Professor of Chemical Engineering and Dean of the College of Engineering]. It must have been my sophomore year in high school.

    After I graduated from high school, I returned to Michigan. So I went to pay my respects to G.G. Brown. He said, “Well, you don’t have a place to stay. Why don’t you come stay with us?”

    I stayed in their house, and I learned a lot of things from the Browns. The most important thing I learned, I think, was football. They said, “You need to go to a football game with us!”

    I had no idea what they were talking about, but I vaguely remembered when I was in Taiwan, my parents were describing football, and they showed no interest. Now, I said to myself, “Now that I am a student at the University of Michigan, I want to be what everyone else is.”

    So I went to the game. It was University of Michigan versus UCLA. It took me a very short time to figure out the rules. In my six years at Michigan, I probably did not miss any games. I always went to the games.

    But more important, because G.G. Brown was the dean of engineering, many accomplished scholars came to visit. So I had the chance to meet many people. I am very grateful to the Browns. George and his wife were very kind to me. At that time, I really didn’t understand what was going on.

    How good was your English?

    Practically nonexistent.

    Wow. How did you go through school without understanding English?

    That’s very interesting because in 1956, the University of Michigan was quite different from the University of Michigan today. There were very few foreign students.

    I decided now that I’m here in the United States, if I want to stay here, it’s better I learn all the customs and the language. In order to try to accomplish something, you really have to assimilate yourself to the society. So that’s why I made an effort to learn English.

    The first week, because of the time change, I normally fell asleep in class. And the teacher would call my name, and everybody would laugh because I was asleep. But after a month, people began to take notice of me.


    Every month, there was a blue book exam. Even at that time. Students, my classmates, began to notice: Well, there’s this guy, hardly speaks English, but somehow he always gets his blue book back first. Which meant I was the guy who got the highest grade. And people began to borrow my notes and talk to me, and I made an effort to talk to them. That’s how I gradually learned English.

    But of course, the courses I took were mostly physics, chemistry and mathematics, and those are somehow easier for me. You don’t really need to know the language to figure that out.
    You’ve said that the University of Michigan had a great influence on your career. Can you expand on that a little bit?

    I had very good teachers in physics and mathematics. The six years I was at Michigan were really the happiest moments of my life – when I was free, and I could take whatever courses I wanted. It helped me to learn to think freely. And the university was very supportive. They gave me a scholarship.

    Before Michigan, I had a very limited education. Six years of high school in Taiwan. I didn’t have any grade school in China.

    I went to the University of Michigan on September 6, 1956. And I enrolled in the school of engineering – in mechanical engineering. After the year is over, I had an advisor. Actually it was a very well known professor, Robert White. He took a look at my grades and he said, “You are no engineer.”

    At that time, there were no computers. So you had to look at a mechanical object from the top, from the front, and from the side. You had to do a three dimensional drawing, and I was absolutely no good at that. I also couldn’t draw a line straight. You know, a line is supposed to have uniform thickness, and I never seemed to be able to do that.

    And then Professor White said, “Well, why don’t you go to physics and math? Why don’t you try to get two degrees at the same time? And why don’t you take courses in graduate school? I’ll help you to skip some requirements such as sociology and social science.”

    So that’s how I started taking courses in physics and math, and that turned out to be quite easy for me. I got my degrees rather quickly. Entered in ’56, I think I got my degrees in engineering physics and engineering math in ’59.

    At that time, there was still a draft for the war in Vietnam. I was classified as 1A, ready to be drafted. Fortunately, the Atomic Energy Commission had a national competition to select a few physicists and mathematicians and give them a full scholarship and a live-in stipend of $2,000 a semester – at that time it was worth quite a bit of money.

    So I participated in the test. Luckily, I was selected. Then the Atomic Energy Commission wrote a letter to my draft board claiming that I’m important to national defense, so I was exempt, and I was able to go to graduate school at Michigan.

    Because I had good grades, I started working with George Uhlenbeck. He was the one who discovered that an electron spins – it rotates around itself. So I studied with him.

    After about a month, he had a tea with me and a few other of his students. He remarked that, if he were to do his life over again, he would rather be an experimental physicist than a theoretical physicist. I was quite surprised because he was one of the great theoretical physicists of the early 20th century.

    So I asked him why and he said, well, an average experimental physicist is very useful because you always measure something. An average theoretical physicist is not. Look at the early 20th century. You have Einstein, you have Dirac, you have Heisenberg, and so forth, you can count them on your fingers how many really made a contribution.

    After this little conversation, I decided to leave theoretical physics. I was wondering what to do. Then I met Professor Larry Jones, who is retired but still living in Ann Arbor, and Marty Perl, who recently passed away as a professor at Stanford [and who received the Nobel Prize in 1995 for his 1975 discovery of the tau lepton particle]. They mentioned their experiment in the Lawrence Radiation Laboratory at Berkeley [now the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory]. If you join us, they said, you get a trip to California. And I had nothing else to do, so I joined them.

    At first, it was really quite difficult. I had no idea what they were doing. But after a while, I begin to learn things. So that’s how I became a particle physicist.

    Speaking of particle physics, can you tell me about the importance of the j/psi particle?


    The revolution
    The discovery of the J/ψ caused such a shift in thinking that the period is called the November Revolution. Here’s how we built up to that moment.

    The background

    Accelerator physics. Einstein predicted that mass and energy are actually interchangeable, but it takes a lot of energy to produce a little bit of mass. So physicists started smashing particles into other particles, concentrating the energy to make new particles. These particles are not normally seen because they give up their mass in the form of energy, downsizing into ordinary particles – such as protons, neutrons and electrons. They typically do so very quickly, in just a nanosecond or less.

    The breakthroughs

    The “pi meson” is discovered, kicking off the accumulation of a “particle zoo.” These particles, discovered with accelerators, were thought at first to be elementary particles – the smallest particles, from which everything else is made. But as the community closed in on a hundred of them, researchers doubted that they were truly elementary.

    Physicists first propose the “quark” model of matter: the particles in the zoo are actually combinations of quarks. The three quarks, as well as their antiquarks (which are like the negatives of the quarks – opposite in electrical charge and other characteristics), could explain the known particles: they were called “up,” “down” and “strange.”

    The existence of a fourth quark, the charm quark, is predicted.

    Monday, November 11, 1974
    Sam Ting, a physics professor at MIT, and Burton Richter, a physicist at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center, make a joint announcement. In two different experiments, they had discovered the same particle. Ting’s group called it the J particle. Richter’s named it ψ (psi).

    The new model
    The weird thing about the J/psi is its very long lifetime combined with a high mass. It didn’t fit any predictions. Eventually, the community realized that the J/psi was made up of a fourth quark, dubbed the charm quark, and its antiparticle. The quark model officially took over. Ting and Richter were awarded the Nobel Prize in physics in 1976.

    When you break the atom apart, you have a nucleus. And if you break the nucleus apart, there are some things that we thought were elementary particles. Pions, protons, kaons, rho mesons, omega mesons, and so forth. There are a few hundred of them.

    All of them have a very short lifetime. In 1974, I discovered this J particle. Soon after this, a family of similar particles were observed by many, many groups worldwide. Their unique feature is their lifetime is 10,000 times longer than all the known existing elementary particles. The significance of which you can visualize as follows.

    Everybody lives on Earth to about 100 years. But you find some village in the Upper Peninsula where people live 1 million years. And then these people are somewhat different from ordinary people. And this discovery means our understanding of physics is totally incomplete. New models had to be made. That is why I received a Nobel Prize – mainly because the J particle changed the basic concept of physics.

    How did you feel when you realized that you’d seen something that was really groundbreaking?

    Basically, you have a feeling that you are really very small. There are so many things you do not know. You thought you understood everything. Not the case at all.

    Did it make you more interested in trying to be the first to find something else?

    Yes. I am now doing an experiment on the International Space Station.

    NASA/AMS02 device on the ISS

    NASA/AMS 02 schematic

    The idea is very simple. You have heard of the Big Bang origin of the universe. Now, at the beginning of the Big Bang, there is a vacuum. So then suddenly you have a big bang. The universe begins to expand. After 14 billion years, we have the University of Michigan, we have a football team, we have you and me.

    Now the question is, at the very beginning of the Big Bang, there must be equal amounts of matter and antimatter because otherwise it would not have come from a vacuum. Nothing exists in a vacuum.

    So once you have a big bang, the positive and negative must be the same amount.

    Can you tell me more about antimatter?

    Antimatter exists on Earth. If you go to the hospital, you have a PET scan. That’s Positron Emission Tomography. That positron is a positively charged electron, that’s the antimatter of the electron.

    You also have protons and antiprotons. You have neutrons, you have antineutrons. So every particle has an antiparticle. So the existence of antiparticles is not a question. The question is: If the universe comes from a big bang, where is the universe made out of antimatter? And that’s the question I’m asking on the International Space Station.

    How are you doing that?

    Matter and antimatter have opposite charges. Protons have a positive charge, antiprotons have a negative charge.

    To distinguish charge, you need a magnet. So when particles go through a magnetic field, positive bends one way, negative bends the opposite way. So you need to put a magnetic device on the space station. This is a difficult thing because, as you know, a magnet always points north, the other end points to the south. If you’re not careful, the space station will spin like a magnetic compass.

    For many years, nobody can put a magnetic detector in space. And then one day, I figured out a way, together with a group of collaborators at MIT. A magnet that doesn’t turn. All the magnetic field stays inside the magnet. It’s a very simple idea, but it took us 40 years to figure out. And so after we figured it out, we put it in space. So now we can detect matter going one way, antimatter going the opposite way.

    Dark matter is also a target of the alpha magnetic spectrometer, right?

    Ting (front) gathers with members of his experimental team at the Alternating Gradient Synchrotron at Brookhaven National Laboratory, where he discovered the J/psi particle independently from Burton Richter working at the Stanford Linear Accelerator. (PHOTO: Brookhaven National Laboratory)

    Yes. What is dark matter? If you look at a galaxy, there are thousands of galaxies that have been examined, every galaxy has a closed orbit. A closed orbit means it is a balance of gravitational force and centripetal force. Only when you have forces that are balanced do you have a closed orbit.

    Gravitational force is the product of the mass of the galaxy and the mass of the entire universe. Centripetal force is the mass of the galaxy and the speed. And so if you put all this together, you examine the galaxy, you find out the amount of material – the amount of matter you need in the universe – is 10 times more than what you see in the universe. In other words, 90 percent of the universe you cannot see.

    This is not only true for our galaxy, it’s true for thousands of galaxies that have been examined. That’s why it’s called dark matter. It’s called dark matter because you cannot see it. Nobody knows what dark matter is like. But the collisions of dark matter become energy. Energy can change into matter from relativity. And so you can produce positrons and antiprotons. So by measuring these particles, you can try to get a hint of what is going on with the origin of dark matter. In fact that’s what we’re doing now. We are measuring cosmic rays, particles shooting through space.

    And this shows up as an excess of antimatter in your detector? As in, much more than you would expect?

    Huge excess! Enormous excess of positrons and antiprotons. Much more than from ordinary collisions of cosmic rays. So something new – some new phenomena is there.

    It will take some time for us to pin it down. But up to now, we have collected more than 100 billion cosmic rays, up to an energy of a trillion electron volts [in other words, a particle with the same kinetic energy as a flying mosquito]. And all this phenomena, all the things we have collected, cannot be understood by the knowledge of existing cosmic ray physics.

    Why hadn’t other cosmic ray experiments caught this?

    Before us, there have been many experimental measures of cosmic rays by balloons and small satellites. Balloons, you can send to space, but not to 400 kilometers above earth. They normally fly to about eight kilometers. So you still have atmosphere above.

    HESS Cherenkov Telescope Array, located on the Cranz family farm, Göllschau, in Namibia, near the Gamsberg searches for cosmic rays

    Also at night, when the temperature cools down, the balloon tends to fall to the ground. Balloons tend to stay aloft for a few days to a maximum of a month or two. So you cannot make a precise measurement.

    Small satellites normally do not carry a magnet. If you don’t carry a magnet, you cannot distinguish positive charge and negative charge. So this is the first time you have a very large particle physics type detector in space. So basically we open the door into a new territory. There are now hundreds of theories to explain what we have observed.

    What are you favorites?

    Oh, when they ask me, I always tell them they are all correct. Some people say, oh, it’s because the origin of the positrons or antiprotons come from a different form of supernova explosion. Some people say it’s because of the propagation through space, some of them have been accelerated. There are many, many theories.

    But to me, that’s really not important. The important thing is to do the measurement very accurately. This is a very precise experiment, so we need three or four more years to finish all the measurements.

    So far, though, we have made measurements of positrons, antiprotons, helium, lithium, elements across the periodic table. These measurements are very, very accurate. I run a collaboration of about 600 physicists. We normally have two teams, sometimes four teams, analyze the same data. Only when all agree within one percent, we will publish.

    Sounds stringent.

    Yeah, because it took us nearly 20 years to put this device in space. And in the foreseeable future, there are probably no similar detectors in space. So we have an obligation to get it right because nobody else can perform the same measurements.

    This is the same data, same detector. But to achieve an accuracy of one percent, a judgment call is needed. What is a real particle signal, what is background from the detector itself? There is always a human element. Most of the time people don’t agree. But I want to understand why. Eventually, people reach agreement.

    How did it feel when your experiment launched and was installed on the space station?

    I was quite scared because before that, I used to do experiments in accelerators. And in accelerators, if you have something you’re worried about, you can shut down the accelerator and go in and take a look. I remember when the space shuttle took off, I was quite, quite concerned. Because suddenly, I could not check anything.

    Fortunately, most of the elements are redundant. The electronics and the computers sometimes have fourfold redundancy, and the minimum is twofold redundancy. So if one goes bad, another one can switch and replace it.

    And finally, for the football fans, what are your feelings about Ohio State?

    When I was at Michigan, the first thing I learned was not physics – the first thing I learned was, “Beat Ohio State!”

    I remember one year, Michigan did not do well. The Michigan-Ohio State game was always the last game. The stadium had a capacity of 100,000 people, but that year, because Michigan had done so badly, and it was raining hard, there were only about 5,000 people in the stadium. And I was one of them.

    A few years ago, I went to visit Ohio State. They invited me to give a speech about my experiment. They announced I was from Michigan, and I heard this “Booooo” noise. When it was my turn to do the talk, I told them I came from Michigan, and today is the first day I actually realized that Ohio State has classrooms on its campuses!


    See the full article here .

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    U MIchigan Campus

    The University of Michigan (U-M, UM, UMich, or U of M), frequently referred to simply as Michigan, is a public research university located in Ann Arbor, Michigan, United States. Originally, founded in 1817 in Detroit as the Catholepistemiad, or University of Michigania, 20 years before the Michigan Territory officially became a state, the University of Michigan is the state’s oldest university. The university moved to Ann Arbor in 1837 onto 40 acres (16 ha) of what is now known as Central Campus. Since its establishment in Ann Arbor, the university campus has expanded to include more than 584 major buildings with a combined area of more than 34 million gross square feet (781 acres or 3.16 km²), and has two satellite campuses located in Flint and Dearborn. The University was one of the founding members of the Association of American Universities.

    Considered one of the foremost research universities in the United States,[7] the university has very high research activity and its comprehensive graduate program offers doctoral degrees in the humanities, social sciences, and STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) as well as professional degrees in business, medicine, law, pharmacy, nursing, social work and dentistry. Michigan’s body of living alumni (as of 2012) comprises more than 500,000. Besides academic life, Michigan’s athletic teams compete in Division I of the NCAA and are collectively known as the Wolverines. They are members of the Big Ten Conference.

  • richardmitnick 2:31 pm on February 5, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , Matter and Antimatter, ,   

    From CERN via futurism: “Scientists May Have Solved the Biggest Mystery of the Big Bang” 

    Cern New Bloc

    Cern New Particle Event

    CERN New Masthead




    February 2, 2017
    Chelsea Gohd

    The Unanswered Question

    The European Council for Nuclear Research (CERN) works to help us better understand what comprises the fabric of our universe. At this French association, engineers and physicists use particle accelerators and detectors to gain insight into the fundamental properties of matter and the laws of nature. Now, CERN scientists may have found an answer to one of the most pressing mysteries in the Standard Model of Physics, and their research can be found in Nature Physics.

    According to the Big Bang Theory, the universe began with the production of equal amounts of matter and antimatter. Since matter and antimatter cancel each other out, releasing light as they destroy each other, only a minuscule number of particles (mostly just radiation) should exist in the universe. But, clearly, we have more than just a few particles in our universe. So, what is the missing piece? Why is the amount of matter and the amount of antimatter so unbalanced?

    Access mp4 video here .

    The Standard Model of particle physics does account for a small percentage of this asymmetry, but the majority of the matter produced during the Big Bang remains unexplained.

    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.

    Noticing this serious gap in information, scientists theorized that the laws of physics are not the same for matter and antimatter (or particles and antiparticles). But how do they differ? Where do these laws separate?

    This separation, known as charge-parity (CP) violation, has been seen in hadronic subatomic particles (mesons), but the particles in question are baryons. Finding evidence of CP violation in these particles would allow scientists to calculate the amount of matter in the universe, and answer the question of why we have an asymmetric universe. After decades of effort, the scientists at CERN think they’ve done just that.

    Using a Large Hadron Collider (LHC) detector, CERN scientists were able to witness CP violation in baryon particles. When smashed together, the matter (Λb0) and antimatter (Λb0-bar) versions of the particles decayed into different components with a significant difference in the quantities of the matter and antimatter baryons. According to the team’s report, “The LHCb data revealed a significant level of asymmetries in those CP-violation-sensitive quantities for the Λb0 and Λb0-bar baryon decays, with differences in some cases as large as 20 percent.”

    Access mp4 video here .

    What Does This Mean?

    This discovery isn’t yet statistically significant enough to claim that it is definitive proof of a CP variation, but most believe that it is only a matter of time. “Particle physics results are dragged, kicking and screaming, out of the noise via careful statistical analysis; no discovery is complete until the chance of it being a fluke is below one in a million. This result isn’t there yet (it’s at about the one-in-a-thousand level),” says scientist Chris Lee. “The asymmetry will either be quickly strengthened or it will disappear entirely. However, given that the result for mesons is well and truly confirmed, it would be really strange for this result to turn out to be wrong.”

    This borderline discovery is one huge leap forward in fully understanding what happened before, during, and after the Big Bang. While developments in physics like this may seem, from the outside, to be technical achievements exciting only to scientists, this new information could be the key to unlocking one of the biggest mysteries in modern physics. If the scientists at CERN are able to prove that matter and antimatter do, in fact, obey separate laws of physics, science as we know it would change and we’ll need to reevaluate our understanding of our physical world.

    See the full article here.

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    Meet CERN in a variety of places:

    Cern Courier



    CERN CMS New

    CERN LHCb New II


    CERN LHC Map
    CERN LHC Grand Tunnel

    CERN LHC particles

    Quantum Diaries

  • richardmitnick 8:34 am on September 30, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Matter and Antimatter, Physicists have figured out how to create matter and antimatter using light,   

    From Science Alert: “Physicists have figured out how to create matter and antimatter using light” 


    Science Alert

    Wikimedia Commons

    29 SEP 2016

    A team of researchers from the Institute of Applied Physics of the Russian Academy of Sciences (IAP RAS) has just announced that they managed to calculate how to create matter and antimatter using lasers.

    This means that, by focusing high-powered laser pulses, we might soon be able to create matter and antimatter using light.

    To break this down a bit, light is made of high-energy photons. When high-energy photons go through strong electric fields, they lose enough radiation that they become gamma rays and create electron-positron pairs, thus creating a new state of matter.

    “A strong electric field can, generally speaking, ‘boil the vacuum,’ which is full of ‘virtual particles,’ such as electron-positron pairs. The field can convert these types of particles from a virtual state, in which the particles aren’t directly observable, to a real one,” says Igor Kostyukov of IAP RAS, who references their calculations on the concept of quantum electrodynamics (QED).

    NASA Astrophysics

    A QED cascade is a series of processes that starts with electrons and positrons accelerating within a laser field. It will then be followed by the release of high-energy photons, electrons, and positrons.

    As high-energy photons decay, it will produce electron-positron pairs. Essentially, a QED cascade will lead to the production of electron positron high-energy photon plasmas – and while it perfectly illustrates the QED phenomenon, it is a theory that has yet to be observed under lab conditions.

    Based on this, researchers observed how intense laser pulses would interact with a foil via numerical simulations. Surprisingly, they discovered that there were more high-energy photons produced by the positrons versus electrons produced of the foil.

    And if you could produce a massive number of positrons via a corresponding experiment, you can conclude that most were generated via a QED cascade.

    As complicated as all that sounds, here’s the bottom line – this discovery can open new doors in terms of how we can efficiently and cost-effectively produce matter and antimatter, the latter of which can significantly change the way we power our spaceships.

    As has been previously noted, making this potential power source is not cheap:

    “The problem lies in the efficiency and cost of antimatter production and storage. Making 1 gram of antimatter would require approximately 25 million billion kilowatt-hours of energy and cost over a million billion dollars.”

    This work offers us a new way forward.

    Their study also offers major insight into the properties of different types of interactions that could eventually pave the way for practical applications, including the development of advanced ideas for the laser-plasma sources of high-energy photons and positrons that will exceed the brilliance of any available source we have today.

    “Next, we’re exploring the nonlinear stage when the self-generated electron-positron plasma strongly modifies the interaction,” the researchers add.

    “And we’ll also try to expand our results to more general configurations of the laser-matter interactions and other regimes of interactions – taking a wider range of parameters into consideration.”

    This article was originally published by Futurism.

    See the full article here .

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