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  • richardmitnick 2:34 pm on August 24, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , Particle Physics   

    From CERN: “LHC pushes limits of performance’ 

    Cern New Bloc

    Cern New Particle Event

    CERN New Masthead

    CERN

    19 Aug 2016
    Harriet Kim Jarlett

    1

    The Large Hadron Collider’s (LHC) performance continued to surpass expectations, when this week it achieved 2220 proton bunches in each of its counter-rotating beams – the most it will achieve this year.

    This is not the maximum the machine is capable of holding (at full intensity the beam will have nearly 2800 bunches) but it is currently limited by a technical issue in the Super Proton Synchrotron (SPS).

    CERN  Super Proton Synchrotron
    “CERN Super Proton Synchrotron

    “Performance is excellent, given this limitation,” says Mike Lamont, head of the Operations team. “We’re 10% above design luminosity (which we surpassed in June), we have these really long fills (where the beam is circulating for up to 20 hours or so) and very good collision rates. 2220 bunches is just us squeezing as much in as we can, given the restrictions, to maximize delivery to the experiments.”

    As an example of the machine’s brilliant performance, with almost two months left in this year’s run it has already reached an integrated luminosity of 22fb-1 – very close to the goal for 2016 of 25fb-1 (up from 4fb-1 last year.)

    Luminosity is an essential indicator of the performance of an accelerator, measuring the potential number of collisions that can occur in a given amount of time, and integrated luminosity (measured in inverse femtobarns, fb-1) is the accumulated number of potential collisions. At its peak, the LHC’s proton-proton collision rate reaches about 1 billion collisions per second giving a chance that even the rarest processes at the highest energy could occur.

    The SPS is currently experiencing a small fault that could be exacerbated by high beam intensity – hence the number of proton bunches sent to the LHC per injection is limited to 96, compared to the normal 288.

    “Once this issue is fixed in the coming year-end technical stop, we’ll be able to push up the number of bunches even further. Next year we should be able to go to new record levels,” says Lamont with a wry grin.

    See the full article here.

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    Meet CERN in a variety of places:

    Cern Courier

    THE FOUR MAJOR PROJECT COLLABORATIONS

    ATLAS
    CERN ATLAS New

    ALICE
    CERN ALICE New

    CMS
    CERN CMS New

    LHCb
    CERN LHCb New II

    LHC

    CERN LHC Map
    CERN LHC Grand Tunnel

    CERN LHC particles

    Quantum Diaries

     
  • richardmitnick 2:13 pm on August 24, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , Particle Physics   

    From Nature- “China, Japan, CERN: Who will host the next LHC?” 

    Nature Mag
    Nature

    [The title is in error. There will possibly be another particle accelerator, or more than one. But none will be the LHC. It is what it is. They will want and need a new name. Might I suggest superconducting super collider, and might I suggest the United States?]

    19 August 2016
    Elizabeth Gibney

    Labs are vying to build ever-bigger colliders against a backdrop of uncertainty about how particle physicists will make the next big discoveries.

    1
    Whether the Large Hadron Collider will find phenomena outside the standard model of particle physics remains to be seen. Harold Cunningham/Getty

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

    It was a triumph for particle physics — and many were keen for a piece of the action. The discovery of the Higgs boson in 2012 using the world’s largest particle accelerator, the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), prompted a pitch from Japanese scientists to host its successor. The machine would build on the LHC’s success by measuring the properties of the Higgs boson and other known, or soon-to-be-discovered, particles in exquisite detail.

    But the next steps for particle physics now seem less certain, as discussions at the International Conference on High Energy Physics (ICHEP) in Chicago on 8 August suggest. Much hinges on whether the LHC unearths phenomena that fall outside the standard model of particle physics — something that it has not yet done but on which physicists are still counting — and whether China’s plans to build an LHC successor move forward.

    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.

    When Japanese scientists proposed hosting the International Linear Collider (ILC), a group of international scientists had already drafted its design. The ILC would collide electrons and positrons along a 31-kilometre-long track, in contrast to the 27-kilometre-long LHC, which collides protons in a circular track that is based at Europe’s particle-physics laboratory, CERN (See ‘World of colliders’).

    ILC schematic
    ILC schematic

    Because protons are composite particles made of quarks, collisions create a mess of debris. The ILC’s particles, by contrast, are fundamental and so provide the cleaner collisions more suited to precision measurements, which could reveal deviations from expected behaviour that point to physics beyond the standard model.

    Higgs study

    For physicists, the opportunity to carry out detailed study of the Higgs boson and the heaviest, ‘top’ quark, the second most recently discovered particle, is reason enough to build the facility. Japan’s Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) was expected to make a call on whether to host the project — which could begin experiments around 2030 — in 2016. But the Japanese panel advising MEXT indicated last year that opportunities to study the Higgs boson and the top quark would not on their own justify building the ILC, and that it would wait until the end of the LHC’s first maximum-energy run – scheduled for 2018 – before making a decision.

    That means the panel is not yet convinced by the argument that the ILC should be built irrespective of what the LHC finds, says Masanori Yamauchi, director-general of Japan’s High Energy Accelerator Research Organization (KEK) in Tsukuba who sat on an ICHEP panel at a session on future facilities. “That’s the statement hidden under their statement,” he says.

    If the LHC discovers new phenomena, these would be further fodder for ILC study — and would strengthen the case for building the high precision machine.

    US physicists have long backed building a linear collider. And a joint MEXT and US Department of Energy group is discussing ways to reduce the ILC’s costs, says Yamauchi, which are now estimated at US$10 billion. A reduction of around 15% is feasible — but Japan will need funding commitments from other countries before it formally agrees to host, he added.

    Chinese competitor

    Snapping at Japan’s heels is a Chinese team. In the months after the Higgs discovery, a team of physicists led by Wang Yifang, director of the Institute of High Energy Physics in Beijing, floated a plan to host a collider in the 2030s, also partially funded by the international community and focused on precision measurements of the Higgs and other particles.

    2
    Circular rather than linear, this 50–100-kilometre-long electron–positron smasher would not reach the energies of the ILC. But it would require the creation of a tunnel that could allow a proton–proton collider — similar to the LHC, but much bigger — to be built at a hugely reduced cost.

    Wang and his team this year secured around 35 million yuan (US$5 million) in funding from China’s Ministry of Science and Technology to continue research and development for the project, Wang told the ICHEP session. Last month, China’s National Development and Reform Commission turned down a further request from the team for 800 million yuan, but other funding routes remain open, Wang said, and the team now plans to focus on raising international interest in the project.

    By affirming worldwide interest in Higgs physics, the Chinese proposal bolsters Japan’s case for building the ILC, says Yamauchi. But if it goes ahead, it could drain international funding from the ILC and put its future on shakier ground. “It may have a negative impact,” he says.

    Super-LHC

    In the future, the option to use China’s electron–positron collider as the basis for a giant proton–proton collider could interfere with CERN’s own plans for a 100-kilometre-circumference circular machine that would smash protons together at more than 7 times the energy of the LHC. Until the mid-2030s, CERN will be busy with an upgrade that will raise the intensity — but not the energy — of the LHC’s proton beam. And by that time, China might have a suitable tunnel that could make it harder to get backing for this ‘super-LHC’.

    At ICHEP, Fabiola Gianotti, CERN’s director-general, floated an interim idea: souping up the energy of the LHC beyond its current design by installing a new generation of superconducting magnets by around 2035. This would provide a relatively modest boost in energy — from 14 teraelectronvolts (TeV) to 20 TeV — that would have a strong science case if the LHC finds new physics at 14 TeV, said Gianotti. Its $5-billion price tag could be paid for out of CERN’s regular budget.

    For decades, successive facilities have found particles predicted by the standard model, and neither the LHC nor any of its proposed successors is guaranteed to find new physics. Questions asked at the ICHEP session revealed some soul-searching among attendees, including a plea to reassure young high-energy physicists about the future of the field and contemplation of whether money would be better spent on other approaches rather than ever-bigger accelerators.

    Indeed, the US is betting on neutrinos, fundamental particles that could reveal physics beyond the standard model, not colliders. The Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab) in Batavia, Illinois, hopes to become the world capital of neutrino physics by hosting the $1-billion Long-Baseline Neutrino Facility, which will beam neutrinos to a range of detectors starting in 2026.

    FNAL LBNFFNAL DUNE Argon tank at SURF
    SURF logo
    Sanford Underground levels
    LBMF/DUNE map from FNAL, Batavia, IL to SURF, SD, USA; DUNE’s Argon tank; SURF caverns for science

    Funding will require approval from US Congress in 2017. But at the ICHEP session, Fermilab director Nigel Lockyer was confident: “We are beyond the point of no return. It is happening.”

    See the full article here .

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    Nature is a weekly international journal publishing the finest peer-reviewed research in all fields of science and technology on the basis of its originality, importance, interdisciplinary interest, timeliness, accessibility, elegance and surprising conclusions. Nature also provides rapid, authoritative, insightful and arresting news and interpretation of topical and coming trends affecting science, scientists and the wider public.

     
  • richardmitnick 9:55 am on August 23, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , NuMI horn, Particle Physics,   

    From FNAL: “Funneling fundamental particles” 

    FNAL II photo

    FNAL Art Image
    FNAL Art Image by Angela Gonzales

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

    August 22, 2016
    Molly Olmstead

    1
    The NuMI horn in the Main Injector brings particles into focus. Photo: Reidar Hahn

    Neutrinos are tricky. Although trillions of these harmless, neutral particles pass through us every second, they interact so rarely with matter that, to study them, scientists send a beam of neutrinos to giant detectors. And to be sure they have enough of them, scientists have to start with a very concentrated beam of neutrinos.

    To concentrate the beam, an experiment needs a special device called a neutrino horn.

    An experiment’s neutrino beam is born from a shower of short-lived particles, created when protons traveling close to the speed of light slam into a target. But that shower doesn’t form a tidy beam itself: That’s where the neutrino horn comes in.

    Once the accelerated protons smash into the target to create pions and kaons — the short-lived charged particles that decay into neutrinos — the horn has to catch and focus them by using a magnetic field. The pions and kaons have to be focused immediately, before they decay into neutrinos: Unlike the pions and kaons, neutrinos don’t interact with magnetic fields, which means we can’t focus them directly.

    Without the horn, an experiment would lose 95 percent of the neutrinos in its beam. Scientists need to maximize the number of neutrinos in the beam because neutrinos interact so rarely with matter. The more you have, the more opportunities you have to study them.

    “You have to have tremendous numbers of neutrinos,” said Jim Hylen, a beam physicist at Fermilab. “You’re always fighting for more and more.”

    Also known as magnetic horns, neutrino horns were invented at CERN by the Nobel Prize-winning physicist Simon van der Meer in 1961. A few different labs used neutrino horns over the following years, and Fermilab and J-PARC in Japan are the only major laboratories now hosting experiments with neutrino horns. Fermilab is one of the few places in the world that makes neutrino horns.

    “Of the major labs, we currently have the most expertise in horn construction here at Fermilab,” Hylen said.

    How they work

    The proton beam first strikes the target that sits inside or just upstream of the horn. The powerful proton beam would punch through the aluminum horn if it hit it, but the target, which is made of graphite or beryllium segments, is built to withstand the beam’s full power. When the target is struck by the beam, its temperature jumps by more than 700 degrees Fahrenheit, making the process of keeping the target-horn system cool a challenge involving a water-cooling system and a wind stream.

    Once the beam hits the target, the neutrino horn directs resulting particles that come out at wide angles back toward the detector. To do this, it uses magnetic fields, which are created by pulsing a powerful electrical current — about 200,000 amps — along the horn’s surfaces.

    “It’s essentially a big magnet that acts as a lens for the particles,” said physicist Bob Zwaska.

    The horns come in slightly different shapes, but they generally look on the outside like a metal cylinder sprouting a complicated network of pipes and other supporting equipment. On the inside, an inner conductor leaves a hollow tunnel for the beam to travel through.

    Because the current flows in one direction on the inner conductor and the opposite direction on the outer conductor, a magnetic field forms between them. A particle traveling along the center of the beamline will zip through that tunnel, escaping the magnetic field between the conductors and staying true to its course. Any errant particles that angle off into the field between the conductors are kicked back in toward the center.

    The horn’s current flows in a way that funnels positively charged particles that decay into neutrinos toward the beam and deflects negatively charged particles that decay into antineutrinos outward. Reversing the current can swap the selection, creating an antimatter beam. Experiments can run either beam and compare the data from the two runs. By studying neutrinos and antineutrinos, scientists try to determine whether neutrinos are responsible for the matter-antimatter asymmetry in the universe. Similarly, experiments can control what range of neutrino energies they target most by tuning the strength of the field or the shape or location of the horn.

    Making and running a neutrino horn can be tricky. A horn has to be engineered carefully to keep the current flowing evenly. And the inner conductor has to be as slim as possible to avoid blocking particles. But despite its delicacy, a horn has to handle extreme heat and pressure from the current that threaten to tear it apart.

    “It’s like hitting it with a hammer 10 million times a year,” Hylen said.

    Because of the various pressures acting on the horn, its design requires extreme attention to detail, down to the specific shape of the washers used. And as Fermilab is entering a precision era of neutrino experiments running at higher beam powers, the need for the horn engineering to be exact has only grown.

    “They are structural and electrical at the same time,” Zwaska said. “We go through a huge amount of effort to ensure they are made extremely precisely.”

    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 1:45 pm on August 16, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Big PanDA, , , , , Particle Physics,   

    From BNL: “Big PanDA Tackles Big Data for Physics and Other Future Extreme Scale Scientific Applications” 

    Brookhaven Lab

    August 16, 2016
    Karen McNulty Walsh
    kmcnulty@bnl.gov
    (631) 344-8350
    Peter Genzer
    (631) 344-3174
    genzer@bnl.gov

    1
    A workload management system developed by a team including physicists from Brookhaven National Laboratory taps into unused processing time on the Titan supercomputer at the Oak Ridge Leadership Computing Facility to tackle complex physics problems. New funding will help the group extend this approach, giving scientists in other data-intensive fields access to valuable supercomputing resources.

    A billion times per second, particles zooming through the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, smash into one another at nearly the speed of light, emitting subatomic debris that could help unravel the secrets of the universe.

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

    Collecting the data from those collisions and making it accessible to more than 6000 scientists in 45 countries, each potentially wanting to slice and analyze it in their own unique ways, is a monumental challenge that pushes the limits of the Worldwide LHC Computing Grid (WLCG), the current infrastructure for handling the LHC’s computing needs. With the move to higher collision energies at the LHC, the demand just keeps growing.

    To help meet this unprecedented demand and supplement the WLCG, a group of scientists working at U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) national laboratories and collaborating universities has developed a way to fit some of the LHC simulations that demand high computing power into untapped pockets of available computing time on one of the nation’s most powerful supercomputers—similar to the way tiny pebbles can fill the empty spaces between larger rocks in a jar. The group—from DOE’s Brookhaven National Laboratory, Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), University of Texas at Arlington, Rutgers University, and University of Tennessee, Knoxville—just received $2.1 million in funding for 2016-2017 from DOE’s Advanced Scientific Computing Research (ASCR) program to enhance this “workload management system,” known as Big PanDA, so it can help handle the LHC data demands and be used as a general workload management service at DOE’s Oak Ridge Leadership Computing Facility (OLCF), a DOE Office of Science User Facility at ORNL.

    “The implementation of these ideas in an operational-scale demonstration project at OLCF could potentially increase the use of available resources at this Leadership Computing Facility by five to ten percent,” said Brookhaven physicist Alexei Klimentov, a leader on the project. “Mobilizing these previously unusable supercomputing capabilities, valued at millions of dollars per year, could quickly and effectively enable cutting-edge science in many data-intensive fields.”

    Proof-of-concept tests using the Titan supercomputer at Oak Ridge National Laboratory have been highly successful. This Leadership Computing Facility typically handles large jobs that are fit together to maximize its use. But even when fully subscribed, some 10 percent of Titan’s computing capacity might be sitting idle—too small to take on another substantial “leadership class” job, but just right for handling smaller chunks of number crunching. The Big PanDA (for Production and Distributed Analysis) system takes advantage of these unused pockets by breaking up complex data analysis jobs and simulations for the LHC’s ATLAS and ALICE experiments and “feeding” them into the “spaces” between the leadership computing jobs.

    CERN/ATLAS detector
    CERN/ATLAS detector

    AliceDetectorLarge
    CERN/Alice Detector
    When enough capacity is available to run a new big job, the smaller chunks get kicked out and reinserted to fill in any remaining idle time.

    “Our team has managed to access opportunistic cycles available on Titan with no measurable negative effect on the supercomputer’s ability to handle its usual workload,” Klimentov said. He and his collaborators estimate that up to 30 million core hours or more per month may be harvested using the Big PanDA approach. From January through July of 2016, ATLAS detector simulation jobs ran for 32.7 million core hours on Titan, using only opportunistic, backfill resources. The results of the supercomputing calculations are shipped to and stored at the RHIC & ATLAS Computing Facility, a Tier 1 center for the WLCG located at Brookhaven Lab, so they can be made available to ATLAS researchers across the U.S. and around the globe.

    The goal now is to translate the success of the Big PanDA project into operational advances that will enhance how the OLCF handles all of its data-intensive computing jobs. This approach will provide an important model for future exascale computing, increasing the coherence between the technology base used for high-performance, scalable modeling and simulation and that used for data-analytic computing.

    “This is a novel and unique approach to workload management that could run on all current and future leadership computing facilities,” Klimentov said.

    Specifically, the new funding will help the team develop a production scale operational demonstration of the PanDA workflow within the OLCF computational and data resources; integrate OLCF and other leadership facilities with the Grid and Clouds; and help high-energy and nuclear physicists at ATLAS and ALICE—experiments that expect to collect 10 to 100 times more data during the next 3 to 5 years—achieve scientific breakthroughs at times of peak LHC demand.

    As a unifying workload management system, Big PanDA will also help integrate Grid, leadership-class supercomputers, and Cloud computing into a heterogeneous computing architecture accessible to scientists all over the world as a step toward a global cyberinfrastructure.

    “The integration of heterogeneous computing centers into a single federated distributed cyberinfrastructure will allow more efficient utilization of computing and disk resources for a wide range of scientific applications,” said Klimentov, noting how the idea mirrors Aristotle’s assertion that “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.”

    This project is supported by the DOE Office of Science.

    See the full article here .

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    BNL Campus

    One of ten national laboratories overseen and primarily funded by the Office of Science of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), Brookhaven National Laboratory conducts research in the physical, biomedical, and environmental sciences, as well as in energy technologies and national security. Brookhaven Lab also builds and operates major scientific facilities available to university, industry and government researchers. The Laboratory’s almost 3,000 scientists, engineers, and support staff are joined each year by more than 5,000 visiting researchers from around the world.Brookhaven is operated and managed for DOE’s Office of Science by Brookhaven Science Associates, a limited-liability company founded by Stony Brook University, the largest academic user of Laboratory facilities, and Battelle, a nonprofit, applied science and technology organization.
    i1

     
  • richardmitnick 7:17 am on August 13, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , Particle Physics,   

    From Quanta: “What No New Particles Means for Physics” 

    Quanta Magazine
    Quanta Magazine

    August 9, 2016
    Natalie Wolchover

    1
    Olena Shmahalo/Quanta Magazine

    Physicists at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) in Europe have explored the properties of nature at higher energies than ever before, and they have found something profound: nothing new.

    It’s perhaps the one thing that no one predicted 30 years ago when the project was first conceived.

    The infamous “diphoton bump” that arose in data plots in December has disappeared, indicating that it was a fleeting statistical fluctuation rather than a revolutionary new fundamental particle. And in fact, the machine’s collisions have so far conjured up no particles at all beyond those catalogued in the long-reigning but incomplete “Standard Model” of particle physics.

    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.

    In the collision debris, physicists have found no particles that could comprise dark matter, no siblings or cousins of the Higgs boson, no sign of extra dimensions, no leptoquarks — and above all, none of the desperately sought supersymmetry particles that would round out equations and satisfy “naturalness,” a deep principle about how the laws of nature ought to work.

    CERN ATLAS Higgs Event
    CERN ATLAS Higgs Event

    CERN CMS Higgs Event
    CERN CMS Higgs Event

    “It’s striking that we’ve thought about these things for 30 years and we have not made one correct prediction that they have seen,” said Nima Arkani-Hamed, a professor of physics at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, N.J.

    The news has emerged at the International Conference on High Energy Physics in Chicago over the past few days in presentations by the ATLAS and CMS experiments, whose cathedral-like detectors sit at 6 and 12 o’clock on the LHC’s 17-mile ring.

    CERN/ATLAS detector
    CERN/ATLAS detector

    CERN/CMS Detector
    CERN/CMS Detector

    Both teams, each with over 3,000 members, have been working feverishly for the past three months analyzing a glut of data from a machine that is finally running at full throttle after being upgraded to nearly double its previous operating energy. It now collides protons with 13 trillion electron volts (TeV) of energy — more than 13,000 times the protons’ individual masses — providing enough raw material to beget gargantuan elementary particles, should any exist.

    2
    Lucy Reading-Ikkanda for Quanta Magazine

    So far, none have materialized. Especially heartbreaking for many is the loss of the diphoton bump, an excess of pairs of photons that cropped up in last year’s teaser batch of 13-TeV data, and whose origin has been the speculation of some 500 papers by theorists. Rumors about the bump’s disappearance in this year’s data began leaking in June, triggering a community-wide “diphoton hangover.”

    “It would have single-handedly pointed to a very exciting future for particle experiments,” said Raman Sundrum, a theoretical physicist at the University of Maryland. “Its absence puts us back to where we were.”

    The lack of new physics deepens a crisis that started in 2012 during the LHC’s first run, when it became clear that its 8-TeV collisions would not generate any new physics beyond the Standard Model. (The Higgs boson, discovered that year, was the Standard Model’s final puzzle piece, rather than an extension of it.) A white-knight particle could still show up later this year or next year, or, as statistics accrue over a longer time scale, subtle surprises in the behavior of the known particles could indirectly hint at new physics. But theorists are increasingly bracing themselves for their “nightmare scenario,” in which the LHC offers no path at all toward a more complete theory of nature.

    Some theorists argue that the time has already come for the whole field to start reckoning with the message of the null results. The absence of new particles almost certainly means that the laws of physics are not natural in the way physicists long assumed they are. “Naturalness is so well-motivated,” Sundrum said, “that its actual absence is a major discovery.”

    Missing Pieces

    The main reason physicists felt sure that the Standard Model could not be the whole story is that its linchpin, the Higgs boson, has a highly unnatural-seeming mass. In the equations of the Standard Model, the Higgs is coupled to many other particles. This coupling endows those particles with mass, allowing them in turn to drive the value of the Higgs mass to and fro, like competitors in a tug-of-war. Some of the competitors are extremely strong — hypothetical particles associated with gravity might contribute (or deduct) as much as 10 million billion TeV to the Higgs mass — yet somehow its mass ends up as 0.125 TeV, as if the competitors in the tug-of-war finish in a near-perfect tie. This seems absurd — unless there is some reasonable explanation for why the competing teams are so evenly matched.

    4
    Maria Spiropulu of the California Institute of Technology, pictured in the LHC’s CMS control room, brushed aside talk of a nightmare scenario, saying, “Experimentalists have no religion.” Courtesy of Maria Spiropulu

    Supersymmetry, as theorists realized in the early 1980s, does the trick. It says that for every “fermion” that exists in nature — a particle of matter, such as an electron or quark, that adds to the Higgs mass — there is a supersymmetric “boson,” or force-carrying particle, that subtracts from the Higgs mass. This way, every participant in the tug-of-war game has a rival of equal strength, and the Higgs is naturally stabilized. Theorists devised alternative proposals for how naturalness might be achieved, but supersymmetry had additional arguments in its favor: It caused the strengths of the three quantum forces to exactly converge at high energies, suggesting they were unified at the beginning of the universe. And it supplied an inert, stable particle of just the right mass to be dark matter.

    “We had figured it all out,” said Maria Spiropulu, a particle physicist at the California Institute of Technology and a member of CMS. “If you ask people of my generation, we were almost taught that supersymmetry is there even if we haven’t discovered it. We believed it.”

    Standard model of Supersymmetry DESY
    Standard model of Supersymmetry DESY

    Hence the surprise when the supersymmetric partners of the known particles didn’t show up — first at the Large Electron-Positron Collider in the 1990s, then at the Tevatron in the 1990s and early 2000s, and now at the LHC. As the colliders have searched ever-higher energies, the gap has widened between the known particles and their hypothetical superpartners, which must be much heavier in order to have avoided detection. Ultimately, supersymmetry becomes so “broken” that the effects of the particles and their superpartners on the Higgs mass no longer cancel out, and supersymmetry fails as a solution to the naturalness problem. Some experts argue that we’ve passed that point already. Others, allowing for more freedom in how certain factors are arranged, say it is happening right now, with ATLAS and CMS excluding the stop quark — the hypothetical superpartner of the 0.173-TeV top quark — up to a mass of 1 TeV. That’s already a nearly sixfold imbalance between the top and the stop in the Higgs tug-of-war. Even if a stop heavier than 1 TeV exists, it would be pulling too hard on the Higgs to solve the problem it was invented to address.

    “I think 1 TeV is a psychological limit,” said Albert de Roeck, a senior research scientist at CERN, the laboratory that houses the LHC, and a professor at the University of Antwerp in Belgium.

    Some will say that enough is enough, but for others there are still loopholes to cling to. Among the myriad supersymmetric extensions of the Standard Model, there are more complicated versions in which stop quarks heavier than 1 TeV conspire with additional supersymmetric particles to counterbalance the top quark, tuning the Higgs mass. The theory has so many variants, or individual “models,” that killing it outright is almost impossible. Joe Incandela, a physicist at the University of California, Santa Barbara, who announced the discovery of the Higgs boson on behalf of the CMS collaboration in 2012, and who now leads one of the stop-quark searches, said, “If you see something, you can make a model-independent statement that you see something. Seeing nothing is a little more complicated.”

    Particles can hide in nooks and crannies. If, for example, the stop quark and the lightest neutralino (supersymmetry’s candidate for dark matter) happen to have nearly the same mass, they might have stayed hidden so far. The reason for this is that, when a stop quark is created in a collision and decays, producing a neutralino, very little energy will be freed up to take the form of motion. “When the stop decays, there’s a dark-matter particle just kind of sitting there,” explained Kyle Cranmer of New York University, a member of ATLAS. “You don’t see it. So in those regions it’s very difficult to look for.” In that case, a stop quark with a mass as low as 0.6 TeV could still be hiding in the data.

    Experimentalists will strive to close these loopholes in the coming years, or to dig out the hidden particles. Meanwhile, theorists who are ready to move on face the fact that they have no signposts from nature about which way to go. “It’s a very muddled and uncertain situation,” Arkani-Hamed said.

    New Hope

    Many particle theorists now acknowledge a long-looming possibility: that the mass of the Higgs boson is simply unnatural — its small value resulting from an accidental, fine-tuned cancellation in a cosmic game of tug-of-war — and that we observe such a peculiar property because our lives depend on it. In this scenario, there are many, many universes, each shaped by different chance combinations of effects. Out of all these universes, only the ones with accidentally lightweight Higgs bosons will allow atoms to form and thus give rise to living beings. But this “anthropic” argument is widely disliked for being seemingly untestable.

    In the past two years, some theoretical physicists have started to devise totally new natural explanations for the Higgs mass that avoid the fatalism of anthropic reasoning and do not rely on new particles showing up at the LHC. Last week at CERN, while their experimental colleagues elsewhere in the building busily crunched data in search of such particles, theorists held a workshop to discuss nascent ideas such as the relaxion hypothesis — which supposes that the Higgs mass, rather than being shaped by symmetry, was sculpted dynamically by the birth of the cosmos — and possible ways to test these ideas. Nathaniel Craig of the University of California, Santa Barbara, who works on an idea called neutral naturalness, said in a phone call from the CERN workshop, “Now that everyone is past their diphoton hangover, we’re going back to these questions that are really aimed at coping with the lack of apparent new physics at the LHC.”

    Arkani-Hamed, who, along with several colleagues, recently proposed another new approach called Nnaturalness, said, “There are many theorists, myself included, who feel that we’re in a totally unique time, where the questions on the table are the really huge, structural ones, not the details of the next particle. We’re very lucky to get to live in a period like this — even if there may not be major, verified progress in our lifetimes.”

    As theorists return to their blackboards, the 6,000 experimentalists with CMS and ATLAS are reveling in their exploration of a previously uncharted realm. “Nightmare, what does it mean?” said Spiropulu, referring to theorists’ angst about the nightmare scenario. “We are exploring nature. Maybe we don’t have time to think about nightmares like that, because we are being flooded in data and we are extremely excited.”

    There’s still hope that new physics will show up. But discovering nothing, in Spiropulu’s view, is a discovery all the same — especially when it heralds the death of cherished ideas. “Experimentalists have no religion,” she said.

    Some theorists agree. Talk of disappointment is “crazy talk,” Arkani-Hamed said. “It’s actually nature! We’re learning the answer! These 6,000 people are busting their butts and you’re pouting like a little kid because you didn’t get the lollipop you wanted?”

    See the full article here .

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    Formerly known as Simons Science News, Quanta Magazine is an editorially independent online publication launched by the Simons Foundation to enhance public understanding of science. Why Quanta? Albert Einstein called photons “quanta of light.” Our goal is to “illuminate science.” At Quanta Magazine, scientific accuracy is every bit as important as telling a good story. All of our articles are meticulously researched, reported, edited, copy-edited and fact-checked.

     
  • richardmitnick 6:39 am on August 13, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , Particle Physics   

    From Nature: “Physicists need to make the case for high-energy experiments” 

    Nature Mag
    Nature

    10 August 2016
    No writer credit

    The disappearance of a tantalizing LHC signal is disappointing for those who want to build the next big accelerator.

    1
    LHCb Experiment/LHCb Collaboration

    Science thrives on discovery, so it’s natural for physicists to mourn this week. As the high-energy-physics community gathered in Chicago on Friday, hopes were high (if cautious) that the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN, Europe’s particle-physics laboratory near Geneva, Switzerland, had chalked up another finding to build on the discovery of the Higgs boson.

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

    Not so — the bump in the data that had caused such excitement was washed away with a flood of data that revealed it to be a mere statistical fluctuation.

    Ordinarily, physicists would be satisfied if the LHC continued its bread-and-butter existence of confirming with ever-greater precision the standard model — a remarkably successful theory that is known to be incomplete.

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

    But the excitement over the bump has left them hungry for more. As is evident from the 500 theory papers written about the bump, physics is ready for something new.

    That the LHC has not turned up anything beyond the standard model does not mean it never will. The machine has collected just one-tenth of the data that scientists hoped to amass by the end of 2022, and just 1% of those it could collect if a planned revamp to increase the intensity of collisions goes ahead.

    CERN HL-LHC bloc

    But the dry spell worries some. The idea of supersymmetry predicts that heavier counterparts to regular particles will become evident at higher collision energies.

    Standard model of Supersymmetry DESY
    Standard model of Supersymmetry DESY

    Before the LHC was switched on, fans of the theory would have gambled on being able to see something by now. And if the dry spell extends to a drought, high-energy physics could descend into what some call the nightmare scenario — the collider finds nothing beyond the Higgs boson. Without ‘new’ physics, there is no thread to pull to unravel the countless mysteries that the standard model fails to account for, including dark matter and gravity.

    3
    http://physicsworld.com/cws/article/news/2014/aug/20/china-pursues-52-km-collider-project

    There remain strong reasons to build a successor machine. But without another discovery, the public’s delight in high-energy physics could fade: there comes a time when exploration alone no longer satisfies.

    Convincing funding agencies to cough up several billion dollars to continue the same approach will therefore be tough, especially when neutrino and lab-based precision experiments cost a fraction of the price.

    FNAL LBNF/DUNE from FNAL to SURF
    FNAL LBNF/DUNE from FNAL to SURF

    4
    Workers float on a raft in the Super-Kamiokande neutrino observatory which lies beneath Mount Kamioka in Hida, Japan. NPR, Wikipedia

    It will be physicists’ job to consider carefully the worth of pursuing that discovery strategy. And if high-energy colliders remain essential, they need to work on their sales pitch.

    See the full article here .

    See also here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

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    Nature is a weekly international journal publishing the finest peer-reviewed research in all fields of science and technology on the basis of its originality, importance, interdisciplinary interest, timeliness, accessibility, elegance and surprising conclusions. Nature also provides rapid, authoritative, insightful and arresting news and interpretation of topical and coming trends affecting science, scientists and the wider public.

     
  • richardmitnick 11:02 am on August 12, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , Particle Physics   

    From New Scientist: “LHC-style supercolliders are entering a make or break phase” 

    NewScientist

    New Scientist

    11 August 2016
    Gavin Hesketh

    As the Large Hadron Collider’s first sign of a superparticle melts away, physicists must contemplate their nightmare scenario.

    1
    ATLAS detector at the LHC at CERN

    Particle physics finds itself in testing times. This branch of science aims to describe the universe by pulling it apart into its most fundamental building blocks, or particles, and putting them back together in a way that explains how everything works.

    Its most robust attempt to do this, the standard model, explains the subatomic world to incredible precision – but it falls short in some big ways, lacking the parts to explain gravity and the mysterious realms of dark matter and dark energy.

    Theories such as supersymmetry, and on extra dimensions and new forces of nature, seek to provide the missing pieces. Almost all of these predict new particles that mighty accelerator the Large Hadron Collider at CERN near Geneva, Switzerland, is powerful enough to discover.

    The anticipation of finding such a particle probably explains what happened when a small bump showed up in LHC data at the end of 2015. This could have been the first sign of a particle 800 times heavier than a proton that could fit the predictions of supersymmetry. A flood of more than 500 theory papers followed in an attempt to explain it.

    But after adding the data taken at the LHC so far in 2016, the bump went away. The 2015 signal was just noise after all.

    Too early to call

    This prompted questions about the wisdom of pursuing proposals for even bigger and more expensive versions of the LHC. Some go as far as to call this no-show a nightmare scenario – but it is too early to make that call.

    We experimentalists will continue to search for these particles using the LHC, which it is hoped will deliver around 100 times more data than we have already collected. Admittedly, we will have to start wondering what to do if nothing new shows up at all.

    A machine bigger than the LHC would cast the net for new particles wider, and perhaps finally confirm or rule out theories such as supersymmetry. It would be a global initiative requiring significant upfront investment. CERN, China, Japan and the US are vying to host such a facility [It is pretty certain that the decision has been made to build the ILC in Japan].

    To undertake such a project would require thousands of people and billions of dollars over decades. But the economic case is strong: projects like this pay for themselves through spin-off technologies, and by inspiring and training future science, maths and engineering graduates.

    The main deciding factor, however, must be the scientific case. If we still have no clear sign that such a machine will really be able to discover or study the kind of particles predicted by supersymmetry, the investment may be better spent on many smaller facilities that can test the standard model in ways not possible at the LHC, searching for answers using different approaches.

    The next five years will be crucial to that decision. It is time for creativity, new ideas, lots of hard work, and some bumps along the way. At stake is a revolution in our understanding of the universe, and the future direction of global research in fundamental physics.

    See the full article here .

    And here .

    See China’s Supercollider Higgs Factory Will Be Twice The Size Of CERN’s Large Hadron Collider

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  • richardmitnick 7:29 am on August 11, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , Particle Physics, SixTrack   

    From SixTrack 

    BOINCLarge
    BOINC is a leader in the field(s) of Distributed Computing, Grid Computing and Citizen Cyberscience.BOINC is more properly the Berkeley Open Infrastructure for Network Computing, developed at UC Berkeley.

    26 Jul 2016

    LHC Sixtrack

    The members of the SixTrack project from LHC@Home would like to thank all the volunteers who made their CPUs available to us! Your contribution is precious, as in our studies we need to scan a rather large parameter space in order to find the best working points for our machines, and this would be hard to do without the computing power you all offer to us!

    Since 2012 we have started performing measurements with beam dedicated to probing what we call the “dynamic aperture” (DA). This is the region in phase space where particles can move without experiencing a large increase of the amplitude of their motion. For large machines like the LHC this is an essential parameter for granting beam stability and allowing long data taking at the giant LHC detectors. The measurements will be benchmarked against numerical simulations, and this is the point where you play an important role! Currently we are finalising a first simulation campaign and we are in the process of writing up the results in a final document. As a next step we are going to analyse the second half of the measured data, for which a new tracking campaign will be needed. …so, stay tuned!

    Magnets are the main components of an accelerator, and non-linearities in their fields have direct impact on the beam dynamics. The studies we are carrying out with your help are focussed not only on the current operation of the LHC but also on its upgrade, i.e. the High Luminosity LHC (HL-LHC). The design of the new components of the machine is at its final steps, and it is essential to make sure that the quality of the magnetic fields of the newly built components allow to reach the highly demanding goals of the project. Two aspects are mostly relevant:

    specifications for field quality of the new magnets. The criterion to assess whether the magnets’ filed quality is acceptable is based on the computation of the DA, which should larger than a pre-defined lower bound. The various magnet classes are included in the simulations one by one and the impact on DA is evaluated and the expected field quality is varied until the acceptance criterion of the DA is met.

    dynamic aperture under various optics conditions, analysis of non-linear correction system, and optics optimisation are essential steps to determine the field quality goals for the magnet designers, as well as evaluate and optimise the beam performance.

    The studies involve accelerator physicists from both CERN and SLAC.

    Long story made short, the tracking simulations we perform require significant computer resources, and BOINC is very helpful in carrying out the studies. Thanks a lot for your help!
    The SixTrack team

    Latest papers:

    R. de Maria, M. Giovannozzi, E. McIntosh (CERN), Y. Cai, Y. Nosochkov, M-H. Wang (SLAC), DYNAMIC APERTURE STUDIES FOR THE LHC HIGH LUMINOSITY LATTICE, Presented at IPAC 2015.
    Y. Nosochkov, Y. Cai, M-H. Wang (SLAC), S. Fartoukh, M. Giovannozzi, R. de Maria, E. McIntosh (CERN), SPECIFICATION OF FIELD QUALITY IN THE INTERACTION REGION MAGNETS OF THE HIGH LUMINOSITY LHC BASED ON DYNAMIC APERTURE, Presented at IPAC 2014

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    BOINC WallPaper

    Visit the BOINC web page, click on Choose projects and check out some of the very worthwhile studies you will find. Then click on Download and run BOINC software/ All Versons. Download and install the current software for your 32bit or 64bit system, for Windows, Mac or Linux. When you install BOINC, it will install its screen savers on your system as a default. You can choose to run the various project screen savers or you can turn them off. Once BOINC is installed, in BOINC Manager/Tools, click on “Add project or account manager” to attach to projects. Many BOINC projects are listed there, but not all, and, maybe not the one(s) in which you are interested. You can get the proper URL for attaching to the project at the projects’ web page(s) BOINC will never interfere with any other work on your computer.

    My BOINC
    MyBOINC

    MAJOR PROJECTS RUNNING ON BOINC SOFTWARE

    SETI@home The search for extraterrestrial intelligence. “SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) is a scientific area whose goal is to detect intelligent life outside Earth. One approach, known as radio SETI, uses radio telescopes to listen for narrow-bandwidth radio signals from space. Such signals are not known to occur naturally, so a detection would provide evidence of extraterrestrial technology.

    Radio telescope signals consist primarily of noise (from celestial sources and the receiver’s electronics) and man-made signals such as TV stations, radar, and satellites. Modern radio SETI projects analyze the data digitally. More computing power enables searches to cover greater frequency ranges with more sensitivity. Radio SETI, therefore, has an insatiable appetite for computing power.

    Previous radio SETI projects have used special-purpose supercomputers, located at the telescope, to do the bulk of the data analysis. In 1995, David Gedye proposed doing radio SETI using a virtual supercomputer composed of large numbers of Internet-connected computers, and he organized the SETI@home project to explore this idea. SETI@home was originally launched in May 1999.”


    SETI@home is the birthplace of BOINC software. Originally, it only ran in a screensaver when the computer on which it was installed was doing no other work. With the powerand memory available today, BOINC can run 24/7 without in any way interfering with other ongoing work.

    seti
    The famous SET@home screen saver, a beauteous thing to behold.

    einstein@home The search for pulsars. “Einstein@Home uses your computer’s idle time to search for weak astrophysical signals from spinning neutron stars (also called pulsars) using data from the LIGO gravitational-wave detectors, the Arecibo radio telescope, and the Fermi gamma-ray satellite. Einstein@Home volunteers have already discovered more than a dozen new neutron stars, and we hope to find many more in the future. Our long-term goal is to make the first direct detections of gravitational-wave emission from spinning neutron stars. Gravitational waves were predicted by Albert Einstein almost a century ago, but have never been directly detected. Such observations would open up a new window on the universe, and usher in a new era in astronomy.”

    MilkyWay@Home Milkyway@Home uses the BOINC platform to harness volunteered computing resources, creating a highly accurate three dimensional model of the Milky Way galaxy using data gathered by the Sloan Digital Sky Survey. This project enables research in both astroinformatics and computer science.”

    Leiden Classical “Join in and help to build a Desktop Computer Grid dedicated to general Classical Dynamics for any scientist or science student!”

    World Community Grid (WCG) World Community Grid is a special case at BOINC. WCG is part of the social initiative of IBM Corporation and the Smarter Planet. WCG has under its umbrella currently eleven disparate projects at globally wide ranging institutions and universities. Most projects relate to biological and medical subject matter. There are also projects for Clean Water and Clean Renewable Energy. WCG projects are treated respectively and respectably on their own at this blog. Watch for news.

    Rosetta@home “Rosetta@home needs your help to determine the 3-dimensional shapes of proteins in research that may ultimately lead to finding cures for some major human diseases. By running the Rosetta program on your computer while you don’t need it you will help us speed up and extend our research in ways we couldn’t possibly attempt without your help. You will also be helping our efforts at designing new proteins to fight diseases such as HIV, Malaria, Cancer, and Alzheimer’s….”

    GPUGrid.net “GPUGRID.net is a distributed computing infrastructure devoted to biomedical research. Thanks to the contribution of volunteers, GPUGRID scientists can perform molecular simulations to understand the function of proteins in health and disease.” GPUGrid is a special case in that all processor work done by the volunteers is GPU processing. There is no CPU processing, which is the more common processing. Other projects (Einstein, SETI, Milky Way) also feature GPU processing, but they offer CPU processing for those not able to do work on GPU’s.

    gif

    These projects are just the oldest and most prominent projects. There are many others from which you can choose.

    There are currently some 300,000 users with about 480,000 computers working on BOINC projects That is in a world of over one billion computers. We sure could use your help.

    My BOINC

    graph

     
  • richardmitnick 2:11 pm on August 8, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Particle Physics,   

    From FNAL: “NOvA shines new light on how neutrinos behave” 

    FNAL II photo

    FNAL Art Image
    FNAL Art Image by Angela Gonzales

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

    August 8, 2016
    Media contact:
    Andre Salles, Fermilab Office of Communication, media@fnal.gov, 630-840-3351

    Science contacts:
    Mark Messier, Indiana University, NOvA co-spokesperson, messier@indiana.edu, 812-855-0236
    Peter Shanahan, Fermilab, NOvA co-spokesperson, shanahan@fnal.gov, 630-840-8378

    New result indicates that the flavor and mass correlation may be more complex than previously thought.

    Scientists from the NOvA collaboration have announced an exciting new result that could improve our understanding of the behavior of neutrinos.

    FNAL/NOvA experiment
    FNAL/NOvA experiment map

    FNAL NOvA Near Detector
    FNAL NOvA Near Detector

    Neutrinos have previously been detected in three types, called flavors – muon, tau and electron. They also exist in three mass states, but those states don’t necessarily correspond directly to the three flavors. They relate to each other through a complex (and only partially understood) process called mixing, and the more we understand about how the flavors and mass states connect, the more we will know about these mysterious particles.

    As the collaboration will present today at the International Conference on High Energy Physics in Chicago, NOvA scientists have seen evidence that one of the three neutrino mass states might not include equal parts of muon and tau flavor, as previously thought. Scientists refer to this as “nonmaximal mixing,” and NOvA’s preliminary result is the first hint that this may be the case for the third mass state.

    “Neutrinos are always surprising us. This result is a fresh look into one of the major unknowns in neutrino physics,” said Mark Messier of Indiana University, co-spokesperson of the NOvA experiment.

    The NOvA experiment, headquartered at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, has been collecting data on neutrinos since February 2014. NOvA uses the world’s most powerful beam of muon neutrinos, generated at Fermilab, which travels through the Earth 500 miles to a building-size detector in northern Minnesota. NOvA was designed to study neutrino oscillations, the phenomenon by which these particles “flip” flavors while in transit.

    NOvA has been using the oscillations of neutrinos to learn more about their basic properties for two years. The NOvA detector is sensitive to both muon and electron neutrinos and can analyze the number of muon neutrinos that remain after traveling through the Earth and the number of electron neutrinos that appear during the journey.

    The data also show that the third mass state might have more muon flavor than tau flavor, or vice versa. The NOvA experiment hasn’t yet collected enough data to claim a discovery of nonmaximal mixing, but if this effect persists, scientists expect to have enough data to definitively explore this mystery in the coming years.

    “NOvA is just getting started,” said Gregory Pawloski of the University of Minnesota, one of the NOvA scientists who worked on this result. “The data sample reported today is just one-sixth of the total planned, and it will be exciting to see if this intriguing hint develops into a discovery.”

    2
    The NOvA experiment’s preliminary result shows an equal possibility that the third neutrino mass state is dominated by either muon or tau flavor. Image: NOvA collaboration.

    NOvA will take data with neutrinos and antineutrinos over the next several years. With both detectors running smoothly and Fermilab’s neutrino beam at full strength, the NOvA experiment is well positioned to illuminate many of the remaining neutrino mysteries.

    The NOvA experiment is funded by the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science, the National Science Foundation and other institutions worldwide.

    For more information on NOvA, visit their website. To read a public presentation on this result, please visit this link.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

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    FNAL Icon
    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 6:04 pm on July 28, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Particle Physics, SESAME   

    From Science: “Physics lab aims to bridge political divides in Middle East” 

    AAAS

    AAAS

    Jul. 28, 2016
    Erik Stokstad

    1
    Jordan is on the verge of opening the Synchrotron-light for Experimental Science and Applications in the Middle East as workers enter homestretch of synchrotron’s construction. CERN.

    An experiment in science diplomacy is on the threshold of success. Synchrotron-light for Experimental Science and Applications in the Middle East (SESAME), an $80 million synchrotron lab in Allan, Jordan, announced this week its first call for research that will be conducted on two beamlines expected to switch on this autumn. Research should start in earnest early next year.

    “The news is that it’s working, against the odds,” says Chris Llewellyn Smith, a physicist at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom and president of the SESAME Council. The project was behind schedule because of political complications—visa restrictions for scientists, for example, and sanctions against Iran, a partner—and a freak snowstorm that collapsed the main building’s roof in 2013. Now, “we are in the final stage,” Eliezer Rabinovici, a theoretical physicist at Hebrew University of Jerusalem said at a 27 July press conference here at the EuroScience Open Forum. “To see dreams become reality, this is a very special moment.”

    A synchrotron is an important tool for many fields, as it creates intense beams of light that are used to probe biological cells or materials. There are about 60 synchrotrons in the world; SESAME is the first in the Middle East. Projects envisioned for the synchrotron include analyzing breast cancer tissue samples, studying Red Sea corals and soil pollution, and probing archaeological remains.

    The initiative was conceived in the 1990s as a partnership among many countries. Germany donated a big-ticket component: the injector that sends particles into the main storage ring. That project has attracted about $30 million in donations from outside the region, supplementing the construction costs financed primarily by Israel, Jordan, and Turkey. Iran has also pledged $5 million, but its contributions have been delayed by sanctions. SESAME’s operating costs are paid for by its member states: Bahrain, Cyprus, Egypt, Iran, Israel, Jordan, Pakistan, the Palestinian National Authority, and Turkey.

    Smith says the facility is on track for commissioning in December. Two beamlines will be ready this year—for x-rays and infrared light—and two more will be built by 2019. Gihan Kamel, SESAME’s infrared beam line scientist, says researchers from the Middle East have already begun working at the facility, by hooking up detectors and microscopes to lower-power sources at the facility. Once the synchrotron fires up, the resolution and brightness will increase dramatically.

    In the conflict-riven Middle East, security at SESAME is a worry. “There are severe concerns,” Rabinovici says. The lab is building a guest house for visiting scientists inside its perimeter fence. Rabinovici hopes the physics oasis will help ease regional tensions. “We are offering light at the end of one tunnel.”

    See the full article here .

    The American Association for the Advancement of Science is an international non-profit organization dedicated to advancing science for the benefit of all people.

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