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  • richardmitnick 10:28 am on July 4, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Quasiparticle camera images superfluid vortices in helium-3", , Physicists in the UK have created a camera that can image the complex tangles of vortices that form inside a helium-3 superfluid., Physics, , The approach could help researchers to better understand the behaviour of quantum fluids.   

    From “physicsworld.com” : “Quasiparticle camera images superfluid vortices in helium-3” 

    From “physicsworld.com”

    On reflection Diagram showing how some particles are blocked by superfluid vortices by the process of Andreev reflection. (Courtesy: MT Noble et al/Phys. Rev. B)

    Physicists in the UK have created a camera that can image the complex tangles of vortices that form inside a helium-3 superfluid. Developed by Theo Noble and colleagues at Lancaster University, the approach could help researchers to better understand the behaviour of quantum fluids.

    When cooled to temperatures just above absolute zero, liquid helium-3 becomes a superfluid, which below a certain critical velocity, can flow without any loss of kinetic energy. The effect arises because at very low temperatures atoms of helium-3 – which are fermions – can form Cooper pairs. These pairs are bosons, which means that helium-3 can become a superfluid.

    Physicists are fascinated by the dynamics of superfluid helium-3 at high flow velocities. Here, thermal fluctuations break Cooper pairs to create quasiparticles that propagate through the superfluid. These structures cannot exist within a certain energy range, which can prevent them from entering certain regions of a superfluid. As quasiparticles approach these regions, they will trap a partner to form a Cooper pair, leaving behind a quasiparticle called a hole, which propagates in the opposite direction – a process called “Andreev reflection”.

    Tangled vortices

    This process can be triggered by the quantized vortices that form around obstacles to the flow of a superfluid. In liquid helium-3, these vortices can exist as a disorderly tangle of strings just tens of nanometres thick and can shift the forbidden range of quasiparticles in the fluid by a certain amount – which varies with distance from the vortex.

    A variety of techniques have been used to probe these structures: including measuring the magnetic fields surrounding helium-3 nuclei and passing sound waves through the fluid. Yet so far, physicists have struggled to image these tangles directly without the use of invasive techniques, such as artificial tracer particles.

    The Lancaster team used a partially closed box within their superfluid to create quasiparticles using a vibrating curved wire. Some of the quasiparticles could move into the rest of the superfluid via a small hole in the box – thus creating a beam of quasiparticles. Upon leaving the box, the beam encounters another vibrating wire that creates a “turbulent tangle” of vortices. Quasiparticles that pass through the tangle are then detected using a 5×5 array of quartz tuning fork resonators.

    New discoveries

    This allowed the team to produce a series of pixelated images revealing the shadows of vortices, where the quasiparticle beam had been blocked by Andreev reflection. Using this method, the team has already made new discoveries about the properties of superfluid helium-3. For example, they observed many more vortices appeared on the inner edge of the curved wire than its outer edge, despite flow velocities being roughly the same on each side.

    The team intends to study these effects in more detail through further improvements to the set-up: including larger pixel arrays, and higher operation speeds to enable video recordings. If achieved, these improvements could allow researchers to mimic a wide variety of complex, large-scale flow patterns in quantum fluids: including sudden accelerations in the rotations of neutron stars; and the break-up of Cooper pairs by incoming cosmic rays, or even by as-yet undiscovered dark matter particles.

    The research is described in Physical Review B.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    http://www.stemedcoalition.org/”>Stem Education Coalition

    physicsworld is a publication of the Institute of Physics. The Institute of Physics is a leading scientific society. We are a charitable organisation with a worldwide membership of more than 50,000, working together to advance physics education, research and application.

    We engage with policymakers and the general public to develop awareness and understanding of the value of physics and, through IOP Publishing, we are world leaders in professional scientific communications.

  • richardmitnick 10:01 am on July 4, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Flexible organic LED produces ‘romantic’ candle-like light", , , Physics,   

    From “physicsworld.com” : “Flexible organic LED produces ‘romantic’ candle-like light” 

    From “physicsworld.com”

    29 Jun 2022
    Isabelle Dumé

    A bendable organic LED with a natural mica backing releases a strong, candlelight-like glow. (Courtesy: Andy Chen and Ambrose Chen)

    A new bendable organic light-emitting diode (OLED) that produces warm, candle-like light with hardly any emissions at blue wavelengths might find a place in flexible lighting and smart displays that can be used at night without disrupting the body’s biological clock. The device, which is an improved version of one developed recently by a team of researchers from National Tsing Hua University in Taiwan, is made from a light-emitting layer on a mica substrate that is completely free of plastic.

    Jwo-Huei Jou and Ying-Hao Chu of the National Tsing Hua University’s Department of Materials Science and Engineering and colleagues recently patented OLEDS that produce warm, white light. However, these earlier devices still emit some unwanted blue light, which decreases the production of the “sleep hormone” melatonin and can therefore disrupt sleeping patterns. A further issue is that these OLEDs were made of solid materials and were therefore not flexible.

    Mica, a natural layered mineral

    One way to make OLEDs flexible is to paste them onto a plastic backing, but most plastics cannot be bent repeatedly – a prerequisite for real-world flexible applications. Jou, Chu and colleagues therefore decided to investigate backings made from mica, a natural layered mineral that can be cleaved into bendable, transparent sheets.

    The researchers began by depositing a clear indium tin oxide (ITO) film onto a mica sheet as the LED’s anode. They then mixed a luminescent material, N,N’-dicarbazole-1,1’-biphenyl, with red and yellow phosphorescent dyes to fabricate the device’s light-emitting layer. Next, they sandwiched this layer between electrically conductive solutions with the anode on one side and an aluminium layer in the other to create a flexible OLED.

    Tests showed that when coated with a transparent conductor, the mica substrate is robust to bending curvatures of 1/5 mm^-1 – a record high – and 50 000 bending cycles at a 7.5 mm bending radius. The OLED is also highly resistant to moisture and oxygen and has a lifetime that is 83% of similar devices on glass.

    “Romantic” light

    The new device emits bright, warm light upon the application of a constant current. This light contains even less blue-wavelength light than natural candlelight, Jou and Chu report, meaning that the exposure limit for humans is 47 000 seconds compared to just 320 s for a cold-white counterpart, according to the team’s calculations. This means that a person exposed to the OLED for 1.5 hours would see their melatonin production suppressed by about 1.6%, compared to 29% for a cold-white compact fluorescent lamp over the same period.

    “We have fabricated an OLED emitting a psychologically-warm but physically-cool, scorching-free romantic candle-like light on a bendable mica substrate using our patented candlelight OLED technology,” Jou tells Physics World. “This technology could provide designers and artists with more freedom in designing variable lighting systems that fit into different spaces, thanks to their flexibility.”

    The researchers now hope to make their OLEDs completely transparent. “When lit, these candlelight OLEDs could then be seen from both sides,” Chu says.

    The present work is detailed in ACS Applied Electronic Materials.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    http://www.stemedcoalition.org/”>Stem Education Coalition

    physicsworld is a publication of the Institute of Physics. The Institute of Physics is a leading scientific society. We are a charitable organisation with a worldwide membership of more than 50,000, working together to advance physics education, research and application.

    We engage with policymakers and the general public to develop awareness and understanding of the value of physics and, through IOP Publishing, we are world leaders in professional scientific communications.

  • richardmitnick 11:58 am on July 3, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "US and Czech Scientists Collaborate To Explore Gamma-Ray Production With High Power Lasers", , , , , , , , Physics, The L3-HAPLS laser system installed at the ELI Beamlines Research Center in Dolní Břežany Czech Republic.,   

    From The University of California-San Diego: “US and Czech Scientists Collaborate To Explore Gamma-Ray Production With High Power Lasers” 

    From The University of California-San Diego

    July 01, 2022
    Daniel Kane

    The U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) and the Czech Science Foundation (GACR) are funding a new collaborative project of scientists from the University of California San Diego in the U.S. and ELI Beamlines (Institute of Physics of the Czech Academy of Sciences) in the Czech Republic which aims to leverage the capabilities of the ELI Beamlines multi-petawatt laser facility.

    Researchers hope these experiments can achieve a breakthrough by demonstrating efficient generation of dense gamma-ray beams.

    Stellar objects like pulsars can create matter and antimatter directly from light because of their extreme energies. In fact, the magnetic field, or “magnetosphere,” of a pulsar is filled with electrons and positrons that are created by colliding photons.

    Reproducing the same phenomena in a laboratory on Earth is extremely challenging. It requires a dense cloud of photons with energies that are millions of times higher than visible light, an achievement that has so far eluded the scientists working in this field. However, theories suggest that high-power lasers ought to be able to produce such a photon cloud.

    As the first international laser research infrastructure dedicated to the application of high-power and high-intensity lasers, the Extreme Light Infrastructure (ELI ERIC) facilities will enable such research possibilities. The ELI ERIC is a multi-site research infrastructure based on specialized and complementary facilities ELI Beamlines (Czech Republic) and ELI ALPS (Hungary). The new capabilities at ELI will create the necessary conditions to test the theories in a laboratory.

    Super computer simulation of energetic gamma-ray emission (yellow arrows) by a dense plasma (green) irradiated by a high-intensity laser beam (red and blue). The laser propagates from left to right, with the emitted photons flying in the same direction. The smooth blue and red regions represent a strong magnetic field generated by the plasma, whereas the oscillation region corresponds to the laser magnetic field.

    This project combines theoretical expertise from the University of California San Diego (U.S.), experimental expertise from ELI Beamlines, as well as target fabrication and engineering expertise from General Atomics (U.S.). The roughly $1,000,000 project, jointly funded by NSF and GACR, will be led by Prof. Alexey Arefiev at UC San Diego. Target development for rep-rated deployment will take place at General Atomics, led by Dr. Mario Manuel, while the primary experiments will be conducted at ELI Beamlines by a team led by Dr. Florian Condamine and Dr. Stefan Weber.

    The concept for the project was developed by Arefiev’s research group at UC San Diego, which specializes in supercomputer simulations of intense light-matter interactions. The approach for this project leverages an effect that occurs when electrons in a plasma are accelerated to near light speeds by a high-powered laser. This effect is called “relativistic transparency” because it causes a previously opaque dense plasma to become transparent to laser light.

    In this regime, extremely strong magnetic fields are generated as the laser propagates through the plasma. During this process, the relativistic electrons oscillate in the magnetic field, which in turn causes the emission of gamma-rays, predominantly in the direction of the laser.

    “It is very exciting that we are in a position to generate the sort of magnetic fields that previously only existed in extreme astrophysical objects, such as neutron stars,” says Arefiev. “The ability of the ELI Beamlines lasers to reach very high on-target intensity is the key to achieving this regime.”

    These experiments will provide the first statistically relevant study of gamma-ray generation using high-powered lasers. Researchers hope the work will open the way for secondary high-energy photon sources that can be used not only for fundamental physics studies, but also for a range of important industrial applications such as material science, nuclear waste imaging, nuclear fuel assay, security, high-resolution deep-penetration radiography, etc. Such “extreme imaging” requires robust, reproducible, and well-controlled gamma-ray sources. The present proposal aims exactly at the development of such unprecedented sources.

    The experiments will be greatly assisted by another technological advance. Until recently, high-power laser facilities could execute about one shot every hour, which limited the amount of data that could be collected. However, new facilities like ELI Beamlines are capable of multiple shots per second. These capabilities allow for statistical studies of laser-target interactions in ways that were impossible only a few years ago. That means a shift in the way such experiments are designed and executed is necessary to take full advantage of the possibilities.

    “The P3 installation at ELI Beamlines is a unique and versatile experimental infrastructure for sophisticated high-field experiments and perfectly adapted to the planned program,” comments Condamine. Weber notes, “This collaboration between San Diego and ELI Beamlines is expected to be a major step forward to bring together the US community and the ELI-team for joint experiments.”

    Thus, a major part of this project is training the next generation of scientists at ELI Beamlines to develop techniques that can fully leverage its rep-rated capabilities. UC San Diego students and postdoctoral researchers will also train on rep-rated target deployment and data acquisition on General Atomics’ new GALADRIEL laser facility to help improve the efficiency of the experiments conducted at ELI Beamlines.

    The P3 (Plasma Physics Platform)-installation at ELI Beamlines where the experiments will take place.

    “This is the first project funded by the Czech Science Foundation and the US National Science Foundation. I believe that the new collaboration between the agencies will lead to a number of successful projects and collaborating scientific teams from the Czech Republic and the USA will benefit from it,” says GACR president Dr. Petr Baldrian.

    “We are thrilled to be working with our counterparts in the Czech Republic to further expand international scientific cooperation in artificial intelligence, nanotechnology, and plasma science research. I am optimistic this will be the first of many collaborative projects between NSF and GACR,” says the Director of NSF, Dr. Sethuraman Panchanathan.

    See the full article here .


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    The University of California- San Diego, is a public research university located in the La Jolla area of San Diego, California, in the United States. The university occupies 2,141 acres (866 ha) near the coast of the Pacific Ocean with the main campus resting on approximately 1,152 acres (466 ha). Established in 1960 near the pre-existing Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California-San Diego is the seventh oldest of the 10 University of California campuses and offers over 200 undergraduate and graduate degree programs, enrolling about 22,700 undergraduate and 6,300 graduate students. The University of California-San Diego is one of America’s “Public Ivy” universities, which recognizes top public research universities in the United States. The University of California-San Diego was ranked 8th among public universities and 37th among all universities in the United States, and rated the 18th Top World University by U.S. News & World Report’s 2015 rankings.

    The University of California-San Diego is organized into seven undergraduate residential colleges (Revelle; John Muir; Thurgood Marshall; Earl Warren; Eleanor Roosevelt; Sixth; and Seventh), four academic divisions (Arts and Humanities; Biological Sciences; Physical Sciences; and Social Sciences), and seven graduate and professional schools (Jacobs School of Engineering; Rady School of Management; Scripps Institution of Oceanography; School of Global Policy and Strategy; School of Medicine; Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences; and the newly established Wertheim School of Public Health and Human Longevity Science). University of California-San Diego Health, the region’s only academic health system, provides patient care; conducts medical research; and educates future health care professionals at the University of California-San Diego Medical Center, Hillcrest; Jacobs Medical Center; Moores Cancer Center; Sulpizio Cardiovascular Center; Shiley Eye Institute; Institute for Genomic Medicine; Koman Family Outpatient Pavilion and various express care and urgent care clinics throughout San Diego.

    The university operates 19 organized research units (ORUs), including the Center for Energy Research; Qualcomm Institute (a branch of the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology); San Diego Supercomputer Center; and the Kavli Institute for Brain and Mind, as well as eight School of Medicine research units, six research centers at Scripps Institution of Oceanography and two multi-campus initiatives, including the Institute on Global Conflict and Cooperation. The University of California-San Diego is also closely affiliated with several regional research centers, such as the Salk Institute; the Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute; the Sanford Consortium for Regenerative Medicine; and the Scripps Research Institute. It is classified among “R1: Doctoral Universities – Very high research activity”. According to the National Science Foundation, UC San Diego spent $1.265 billion on research and development in fiscal year 2018, ranking it 7th in the nation.

    The University of California-San Diego is considered one of the country’s “Public Ivies”. As of February 2021, The University of California-San Diego faculty, researchers and alumni have won 27 Nobel Prizes and three Fields Medals, eight National Medals of Science, eight MacArthur Fellowships, and three Pulitzer Prizes. Additionally, of the current faculty, 29 have been elected to the National Academy of Engineering, 70 to the National Academy of Sciences, 45 to the National Academy of Medicine and 110 to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.


    When the Regents of the University of California originally authorized the San Diego campus in 1956, it was planned to be a graduate and research institution, providing instruction in the sciences, mathematics, and engineering. Local citizens supported the idea, voting the same year to transfer to the university 59 acres (24 ha) of mesa land on the coast near the preexisting Scripps Institution of Oceanography. The Regents requested an additional gift of 550 acres (220 ha) of undeveloped mesa land northeast of Scripps, as well as 500 acres (200 ha) on the former site of Camp Matthews from the federal government, but Roger Revelle, then director of Scripps Institution and main advocate for establishing the new campus, jeopardized the site selection by exposing the La Jolla community’s exclusive real estate business practices, which were antagonistic to minority racial and religious groups. This outraged local conservatives, as well as Regent Edwin W. Pauley.

    University of California President Clark Kerr satisfied San Diego city donors by changing the proposed name from University of California, La Jolla, to University of California-San Diego. The city voted in agreement to its part in 1958, and the University of California approved construction of the new campus in 1960. Because of the clash with Pauley, Revelle was not made chancellor. Herbert York, first director of DOE’s Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, was designated instead. York planned the main campus according to the “Oxbridge” model, relying on many of Revelle’s ideas.

    According to Kerr, “San Diego always asked for the best,” though this created much friction throughout the University of California system, including with Kerr himself, because University of California-San Diego often seemed to be “asking for too much and too fast.” Kerr attributed University of California-San Diego’s “special personality” to Scripps, which for over five decades had been the most isolated University of California unit in every sense: geographically, financially, and institutionally. It was a great shock to the Scripps community to learn that Scripps was now expected to become the nucleus of a new University of California campus and would now be the object of far more attention from both the university administration in Berkeley and the state government in Sacramento.

    The University of California-San Diego was the first general campus of the University of California to be designed “from the top down” in terms of research emphasis. Local leaders disagreed on whether the new school should be a technical research institute or a more broadly based school that included undergraduates as well. John Jay Hopkins of General Dynamics Corporation pledged one million dollars for the former while the City Council offered free land for the latter. The original authorization for the University of California-San Diego campus given by the University of California Regents in 1956 approved a “graduate program in science and technology” that included undergraduate programs, a compromise that won both the support of General Dynamics and the city voters’ approval.

    Nobel laureate Harold Urey, a physicist from the University of Chicago, and Hans Suess, who had published the first paper on the greenhouse effect with Revelle in the previous year, were early recruits to the faculty in 1958. Maria Goeppert-Mayer, later the second female Nobel laureate in physics, was appointed professor of physics in 1960. The graduate division of the school opened in 1960 with 20 faculty in residence, with instruction offered in the fields of physics, biology, chemistry, and earth science. Before the main campus completed construction, classes were held in the Scripps Institution of Oceanography.

    By 1963, new facilities on the mesa had been finished for the School of Science and Engineering, and new buildings were under construction for Social Sciences and Humanities. Ten additional faculty in those disciplines were hired, and the whole site was designated the First College, later renamed after Roger Revelle, of the new campus. York resigned as chancellor that year and was replaced by John Semple Galbraith. The undergraduate program accepted its first class of 181 freshman at Revelle College in 1964. Second College was founded in 1964, on the land deeded by the federal government, and named after environmentalist John Muir two years later. The University of California-San Diego School of Medicine also accepted its first students in 1966.

    Political theorist Herbert Marcuse joined the faculty in 1965. A champion of the New Left, he reportedly was the first protester to occupy the administration building in a demonstration organized by his student, political activist Angela Davis. The American Legion offered to buy out the remainder of Marcuse’s contract for $20,000; the Regents censured Chancellor William J. McGill for defending Marcuse on the basis of academic freedom, but further action was averted after local leaders expressed support for Marcuse. Further student unrest was felt at the university, as the United States increased its involvement in the Vietnam War during the mid-1960s, when a student raised a Viet Minh flag over the campus. Protests escalated as the war continued and were only exacerbated after the National Guard fired on student protesters at Kent State University in 1970. Over 200 students occupied Urey Hall, with one student setting himself on fire in protest of the war.

    Early research activity and faculty quality, notably in the sciences, was integral to shaping the focus and culture of the university. Even before The University of California-San Diego had its own campus, faculty recruits had already made significant research breakthroughs, such as the Keeling Curve, a graph that plots rapidly increasing carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere and was the first significant evidence for global climate change; the Kohn–Sham equations, used to investigate particular atoms and molecules in quantum chemistry; and the Miller–Urey experiment, which gave birth to the field of prebiotic chemistry.

    Engineering, particularly computer science, became an important part of the university’s academics as it matured. University researchers helped develop University of California-San Diego Pascal, an early machine-independent programming language that later heavily influenced Java; the National Science Foundation Network, a precursor to the Internet; and the Network News Transfer Protocol during the late 1970s to 1980s. In economics, the methods for analyzing economic time series with time-varying volatility (ARCH), and with common trends (cointegration) were developed. The University of California-San Diego maintained its research intense character after its founding, racking up 25 Nobel Laureates affiliated within 50 years of history; a rate of five per decade.

    Under Richard C. Atkinson’s leadership as chancellor from 1980 to 1995, the university strengthened its ties with the city of San Diego by encouraging technology transfer with developing companies, transforming San Diego into a world leader in technology-based industries. He oversaw a rapid expansion of the School of Engineering, later renamed after Qualcomm founder Irwin M. Jacobs, with the construction of the San Diego Supercomputer Center and establishment of the computer science, electrical engineering, and bioengineering departments. Private donations increased from $15 million to nearly $50 million annually, faculty expanded by nearly 50%, and enrollment doubled to about 18,000 students during his administration. By the end of his chancellorship, the quality of The University of California-San Diego graduate programs was ranked 10th in the nation by the National Research Council.

    The university continued to undergo further expansion during the first decade of the new millennium with the establishment and construction of two new professional schools — the Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Rady School of Management—and the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology, a research institute run jointly with University of California Irvine. The University of California-San Diego also reached two financial milestones during this time, becoming the first university in the western region to raise over $1 billion in its eight-year fundraising campaign in 2007 and also obtaining an additional $1 billion through research contracts and grants in a single fiscal year for the first time in 2010. Despite this, due to the California budget crisis, the university loaned $40 million against its own assets in 2009 to offset a significant reduction in state educational appropriations. The salary of Pradeep Khosla, who became chancellor in 2012, has been the subject of controversy amidst continued budget cuts and tuition increases.

    On November 27, 2017, the university announced it would leave its longtime athletic home of the California Collegiate Athletic Association, an NCAA Division II league, to begin a transition to Division I in 2020. At that time, it will join the Big West Conference, already home to four other UC campuses (Davis, Irvine, Riverside, Santa Barbara). The transition period will run through the 2023–24 school year. The university prepares to transition to NCAA Division I competition on July 1, 2020.


    Applied Physics and Mathematics

    The Nature Index lists The University of California-San Diego as 6th in the United States for research output by article count in 2019. In 2017, The University of California-San Diego spent $1.13 billion on research, the 7th highest expenditure among academic institutions in the U.S. The university operates several organized research units, including the Center for Astrophysics and Space Sciences (CASS), the Center for Drug Discovery Innovation, and the Institute for Neural Computation. The University of California-San Diego also maintains close ties to the nearby Scripps Research Institute and Salk Institute for Biological Studies. In 1977, The University of California-San Diego developed and released the University of California-San Diego Pascal programming language. The university was designated as one of the original national Alzheimer’s disease research centers in 1984 by the National Institute on Aging. In 2018, The University of California-San Diego received $10.5 million from the DOE National Nuclear Security Administration to establish the Center for Matters under Extreme Pressure (CMEC).

    The university founded the San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC) in 1985, which provides high performance computing for research in various scientific disciplines. In 2000, The University of California-San Diego partnered with The University of California-Irvine to create the Qualcomm Institute – University of California-San Diego, which integrates research in photonics, nanotechnology, and wireless telecommunication to develop solutions to problems in energy, health, and the environment.

    The University of California-San Diego also operates the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, one of the largest centers of research in earth science in the world, which predates the university itself. Together, SDSC and SIO, along with funding partner universities California Institute of Technology, San Diego State University, and The University of California-Santa Barbara, manage the High Performance Wireless Research and Education Network.

  • richardmitnick 11:27 am on July 3, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "CERN’s Higgs boson discovery:: The pinnacle of international scientific collaboration?", , , , , , , Physics, ,   

    From “Physics Today” : “CERN’s Higgs boson discovery:: The pinnacle of international scientific collaboration?” 

    Physics Today bloc

    From “Physics Today”

    30 Jun 2022
    Michael Riordan

    Decades of effort to establish a global, scientist-managed high-energy-physics laboratory culminated in the discovery of the final missing piece of the discipline’s standard model.

    Credit: Abigail Malate for Physics Today

    Ten years ago, two of the largest scientific collaborations ever—spanning six continents and encompassing more than 60 nations—announced their discovery at CERN of the long-sought Higgs boson, the capstone of the standard model.

    Physicists from all the countries involved could take well-earned credit for what will surely stand as one of the 21st century’s greatest scientific breakthroughs. It was a remarkable diplomatic achievement, too, at a moment of relative world peace, perhaps the pinnacle of international scientific cooperation. And it would not have been possible without a series of farsighted decisions and actions.


    Part of CERN’s success as a citadel of modern physics is due to the early-1950s decision to establish it in Geneva, Switzerland, a city and nation widely recognized for cosmopolitanism and political neutrality. Many thousands of scientists of diverse nationalities, not just Europeans, have eagerly pursued high-energy-physics research in this highly appealing environment, given its many cultural amenities—plus world-class hiking, mountain climbing, and skiing in the nearby Alps.

    CERN grew steadily during more than five decades of increasingly important high-energy-physics research, reusing existing accelerators and colliders wherever possible in the construction of new facilities. It gradually developed a talented, cohesive staff that could effectively manage the difficult construction of the multibillion-euro Large Hadron Collider (LHC) and its four gigantic detectors: ALICE, ATLAS, CMS, and LHCb.









    After the 1993 demise of the Superconducting Super Collider (SSC), CERN leaders decided to pursue construction of the LHC, but they realized they needed to attract significant funds for the project from beyond Europe. That transformation—effectively to make it a “world laboratory”—required extending its organizational framework and lab culture to embrace those contributions and the large contingents of non-European physicists that would accompany them.

    Given that accomplishment, CERN will likely remain the focus of world high-energy physics as the discipline begins building the next generation of particle colliders.

    Especially after the savage Russian invasion of Ukraine and the looming bifurcation of the world order, the lab now offers an island of stability in a global sea of uncertainty. National governments require strong assurances that the money and equipment they send abroad for scientific megaprojects are being well managed on behalf of their scientists and citizenry. In that regard, CERN has a remarkably robust, decades-long track record.

    Funding international collaborations

    Establishing a vigorous, productive laboratory culture does not happen overnight. It requires years, if not decades. In the late 1980s, SSC proponents failed to appreciate that essential process. Rather than electing to build their gargantuan new collider in Illinois adjacent to Fermilab and adapt the lab’s existing Tevatron to serve as a proton injector, they selected a new, “green field” site just south of Dallas, Texas.

    [Earlier than the LHC at CERN, The DOE’s Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory had sought the Higgs with the Tevatron Accelerator.

    But the Tevatron could barely muster 2 TeV [Terraelecton volts], not enough energy to find the Higgs. CERN’s LHC is capable of 13 TeV.

    Another possible attempt in the U.S. would have been the Super Conducting Supercollider.

    Fermilab has gone on to become a world powerhouse in neutrino research with the LBNF/DUNE project which will send neutrinos 800 miles to SURF-The Sanford Underground Research Facility in in Lead, South Dakota.]

    Other factors were involved in the project’s collapse, too, among them the internecine politics of Washington, DC (see my article, Physics Today, October 2016, page 48). But mismanagement of the project (whether real or perceived) by a contentious, untested organization of accelerator physicists and military managers contributed heavily to the SSC’s October 1993 termination by the US Congress.

    When the US quest to build the SSC finally ended, CERN was ready to push ahead with plans for its fledgling LHC project—and to make it a global endeavor. Whereas the SSC project had severe difficulty in securing foreign contributions for building the collider, CERN reached beyond its 19 European member states for contributions to the LHC. By the time the CERN Council gave conditional approval to proceed with the project in December 1994, the lab could anticipate sufficient funding from Europe for an initial construction phase based on a proposed “missing magnet” scheme: Just two-thirds of the proton collider’s superconducting dipole magnets would at first be installed in the existing 27 km tunnel of the Large Electron–Positron (LEP) Collider after its physics research ended. Some doubted whether the scheme was feasible, but it permitted the project to begin hardly a year after the SSC termination. And CERN then opened the door to additional contributions from nonmember states that would allow LHC construction to occur in a single phase.

    In May 1995 Japan became the first non-European nation to offer a major contribution to LHC construction, committing a total of 5 billion yen (then worth about 65 million Swiss francs or $50 million). Russia made a similar commitment the following year, mainly for the construction of the LHC detectors. Canada, China, India, and Israel soon followed suit (although with smaller contributions). The US—still smarting from the SSC debacle—took longer. After lengthy negotiations with the Department of Energy and Congress, CERN director general Christopher Llewellyn Smith finally succeeded in securing a major US commitment worth $531 million in December 1997, including $200 million for collider construction. The US, Japan, and Russia were granted special “observer” status on the CERN Council, giving them a say in LHC management.

    Russia provides an excellent case history of the negotiations and agreements involved in extending CERN participation to include nonmember states. Soviet and Russian physicists had been involved in research there since the mid 1970s, when they began working on fixed-target experiments on the Super Proton Synchrotron.

    In the early 1990s, Russian physicists made major contributions to the design of the CMS detector for the LHC, for which the RDMS (Russia and Dubna member states) collaboration, led by the Joint Institute of Nuclear Research (JINR) in Dubna, Russia, played a formative role.

    Cutaway view of the original Compact Muon Solenoid, or CMS, detector. Credit: CERN.

    The total cost of materials and equipment produced in Russia for the CMS has been estimated at $15 million, with part of the amount provided by CERN and its member states. Russian institutes contributed a similar value of equipment and materials to the ATLAS experiment—again funded partly by CERN and its member states. Hundreds of Russian physicists have since been involved in both experiments.

    And those globe-spanning experimental collaborations benefited extensively from the creation and development of the World Wide Web at CERN by Tim Berners-Lee.

    By the time CERN shut down the LEP in November 2000 and began full-fledged LHC construction, the lab had effectively been transformed from a European center for high-energy physics into a world laboratory for the discipline. The “globalization” of high-energy physics was off to a good start.

    A crucial aspect of that global scientific laboratory is the Worldwide LHC Computing Grid, a multitier system of more than 150 computers linked by high-speed internet and private fiber-optic cables designed to cope with the torrent of information being generated by the LHC detectors—typically many terabytes of data daily. Initial event processing occurs on CERN mainframe computers, which send the results to 13 regional academic institutions (Fermilab and JINR, for example) for further processing and distribution. The grid enables experimenters to do much of the data analysis at their home institutions, supplemented by occasional in-person visits to CERN to interact directly with collaborators and detector hardware. In addition, thousands of these physicists make extensive use of the World Wide Web to share designs, R&D efforts, and initial results as well as to draft scientific articles for publication.

    CERN has been able to establish a successful laboratory culture, conducive to the best possible work by thousands of high-energy physicists, because the lab has essentially complete control of its budget, which exceeded a billion Swiss francs annually as the new century began. Accommodations have been made for specific national needs (for example, the costs of German reunification), but the resulting budget remains under CERN auspices. Important decisions are made by physicists—not bureaucrats or politicians—who better appreciate the ramifications of those decisions for the quality of the scientific research to be done. Contrary to the case of the SSC, meddlesome military managers were not involved.

    Discovering the Higgs boson

    Scientists’ control of their own workplace, which begins with laboratory design and construction and continues into its management and operations, is an important factor in doing successful research. When a meltdown of dozens of superconducting dipole magnets occurred shortly after LHC commissioning began in September 2008, for example, it was a crack team of CERN accelerator physicists who dealt with and solved the utterly challenging problem, taking more than a year to bring the machine back to life. Protons finally began colliding in November 2009, albeit at a reduced collision energy of 7 TeV and at very low luminosity (collision rate).

    Serious data taking began in 2011, as LHC operators nudged the luminosity steadily higher and proton collisions began to surge in. By year’s end, both the ATLAS and CMS experiments were experiencing small excesses of two-photon and four-lepton events—the decay channels expected to give the clearest indication of Higgs boson production—in the vicinity of 125 GeV. But both collaborations stopped short of claiming its discovery.

    When similar excesses appeared in the experiments during the spring 2012 run, their confidence swelled—especially after combinations of the two-photon and four-lepton events exceeded the rigorous five-sigma statistical significance required in high-energy physics. I was fortunate to be present at CERN (if a little groggy from jet lag) when that crucial threshold was crossed in late June by a group of ATLAS experimenters, many hailing from China and the US, who began noisily celebrating in an adjacent office. (See the accompanying essay by Sau Lan Wu.)

    The 4 July 2012 CERN press conference announcing the Higgs discovery—timed to coincide with the opening day of the 36th International Conference on High Energy Physics in Melbourne, Australia—was televised around the globe to rapt physicist audiences on at least six continents. Americans had to awaken in the early morning hours of their nation’s 236th birthday to watch the proceedings. In the packed auditorium, along with former CERN directors (including Llewellyn Smith) and current managers sitting prominently and proudly in the front row, sat theorists François Englert and Peter Higgs, who would soon share the Nobel Prize in physics for anticipating this epochal discovery (see Physics Today, December 2013, page 10). “I think we have it,” stated CERN director general Rolf-Dieter Heuer after the ATLAS and CMS presentations, perhaps a bit guardedly. “We have observed a new particle consistent with a Higgs boson.”

    At the Higgs discovery announcement, CERN Director General Rolf Heuer congratulates François Englert and Peter Higgs, who would later receive the 2013 Nobel Prize in Physics for their theoretical description of the origin of mass—which was confirmed by the Higgs boson detection.

    It was certainly a European triumph, a vindication of the continent’s patient and enduring support of science—but also a triumph for the global physics community. Both the ATLAS and CMS collaborations then involved about 3000 physicists. ATLAS physicists hailed from 177 institutions in 38 nations; CMS included 182 institutions in 40 nations. Physicists from Brazil, Canada, China, India, Japan, Russia, Ukraine, and the US, among many other nations, could rejoice in the superb achievement, along with those from Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain, Sweden, the UK, and other CERN member states.

    If the Higgs boson discovery does not represent the pinnacle of international scientific cooperation, it surely sets a high standard. It will be a difficult one to match in the coming decades, given the conflicts and cleavages that have been erupting since Russia’s brutal Ukraine invasion. Russian scientific institutes have been at least temporarily excluded from future CERN projects—and the ban may well become permanent. And the costs of European rearmament could easily impact the CERN budget in the coming years. The first two decades of the 21st century will certainly represent a special moment in history when so many nations could work together peacefully in a common scientific pursuit of the greatest significance.

    See the full article here .


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    “Our mission

    The mission of ”Physics Today” is to be a unifying influence for the diverse areas of physics and the physics-related sciences.

    It does that in three ways:

    • by providing authoritative, engaging coverage of physical science research and its applications without regard to disciplinary boundaries;
    • by providing authoritative, engaging coverage of the often complex interactions of the physical sciences with each other and with other spheres of human endeavor; and
    • by providing a forum for the exchange of ideas within the scientific community.”

  • richardmitnick 12:20 pm on July 2, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Chemists Crack Complete Quantum Nature of Water", , , , , Physics, q-AQUA software provides a universal tool for studying water.,   

    From Emory University: “Chemists Crack Complete Quantum Nature of Water” 

    From Emory University

    Carol Clark


    Chemists have produced the first full quantum mechanical model of water — one of the key ingredients of life. The Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters published the breakthrough, which used machine learning to develop a model that gives a detailed, accurate description for how large groups of water molecules interact with one another.

    “We believe we have found the missing piece to a complete, microscopic understanding of water,” says Joel Bowman, professor of theoretical chemistry at Emory University and senior author of the study. “It appears that we now have all that we need to know to describe water molecules under any conditions, including ice, liquid or vapor over a range of temperature and pressure.”

    The researchers developed free, open-source software for the model, which they dubbed “q-AQUA.”

    The q-AQUA software provides a universal tool for studying water. “We anticipate researchers using it for everything from predicting whether an exoplanet may have water to deepening our understanding of the role of water in cellular function,” Bowman says.

    Bowman is one of the founders of the specialty of theoretical reaction dynamics and a leader in exploring mysteries underlying questions such as why we need water to live.

    First author of the study is Qi Yu, a former Emory PhD candidate in the Bowman Lab who has since graduated and is now a postdoctoral fellow at Yale. Co-authors include Emory graduate student Apurba Nandi, a PhD candidate in the Bowman Lab; Riccardo Cone, a former Emory postdoctoral fellow in the Bowman Lab, who is now at the University of Milan; and Paul Houston, former dean of science at Georgia Institute of Technology and now an emeritus professor at Cornell University.

    The discovery made the cover of The Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters.

    Water covers most of the Earth’s surface and is vital to all living organisms. It consists of simple molecules, each made up of two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom, bound by hydrogen.

    Despite water’s simplicity and ubiquity, describing the interactions of clusters of H2O molecules under any conditions presents major challenges.

    Newton’s law governs the behavior of heavy objects in the so-called classical world, including the motion of planets. Extremely light objects, however, at the level of atoms and electrons, are part of the quantum world which is governed by the Schrodinger equation of quantum-mechanical systems.

    “The hydrogen atom is the lightest atom of all, which makes it the most quantum mechanical,” Bowman explains. “It has the quantum weirdness of being both a particle and a wave at the same time.”

    Although large, complex problems in the classical world can be divided into pieces to be solved, objects in the quantum world are too “fuzzy” to be broken down into discrete pieces.

    Researchers have tried to produce a quantum model of water by breaking it into the interactions of clusters of water molecules. Bowman compares it to people at a party clustered into conversational groups of two, three or four people.

    “Imagine you’re trying to come up with a model to describe the conversations in each of these clusters of people that can be extended to the entire party,” he says. “First you gather the data for two people talking and determine what they are saying, who is saying what and what the conversation means. It gets harder when you try to model the conversations among three people. And when you get up to four people, it gets nearly impossible because so much data is coming at you.”

    For the current paper, the researchers used powerful machine-learning techniques that enabled computers to capture the interactions of groups of two, three and four molecules. “Taking it to the four-body level was very hard and something that no one had done and published before,” Bowman says. “We knew that if we could achieve that we would be far along to having a nearly complete solution. In a sense, it was the capstone of the whole process.”

    Instead of words coming out of the mouths of people, the analyses involved thousands of numbers coming out of computers. Unlike people, however, individual water molecules are all identical. This symmetry allowed the researchers to build on the model for interactions among sets of two, three and four water molecules so that it applies to even larger groups of molecules.

    “The four-body interaction of water molecules appears to be the final one that governs all interactions of water molecules,” Bowman says.

    To test their model, the researchers ran computer simulations over a range of temperatures for as many as 256 water molecules interacting in groups of two, three and four molecules simultaneously. The results showed that the model was highly accurate even at that scale.

    “We think we can take our model up to as many as 3,000 or 4,000 water molecules interacting,” Bowman says. “The computer effort will go up a lot, but those are simulations we plan to run next now that we’ve established proof of concept for our model.”

    The model may also serve as a springboard to develop similar, more simplified, models that require less computer power but are still accurate enough to make useful predictions regarding the quantum mechanics of water, Bowman says.

    Meanwhile, the authors hope that other researchers will download the free q-AQUA software and use it to delve deeper into unanswered questions about water.

    “We’re about 70% water by weight,” Bowman says, “and yet, from a chemical standpoint, we don’t really understand how water molecules interact with biological systems. Now that we have a good template for understanding how water molecules interact among themselves, we have a basis to deepen our understanding of the role of water in biochemical processes essential to life.”

    See the full article here .


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Emory University is a private research university in metropolitan Atlanta, located in the Druid Hills section of DeKalb County, Georgia, United States. The university was founded as Emory College in 1836 in Oxford, Georgia by the Methodist Episcopal Church and was named in honor of Methodist bishop John Emory. In 1915, the college relocated to metropolitan Atlanta and was rechartered as Emory University. The university is the second-oldest private institution of higher education in Georgia and among the fifty oldest private universities in the United States.

    Emory University has nine academic divisions: Emory College of Arts and Sciences, Oxford College, Goizueta Business School, Laney Graduate School, School of Law, School of Medicine, Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing, Rollins School of Public Health, and the Candler School of Theology. Emory University, the Georgia Institute of Technology, and Peking University in Beijing, China jointly administer the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering. The university operates the Confucius Institute in Atlanta in partnership with Nanjing University. Emory has a growing faculty research partnership with the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST). Emory University students come from all 50 states, 6 territories of the United States, and over 100 foreign countries.

  • richardmitnick 10:09 am on July 2, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Physics, , , , , , , , , , "Advocating a new paradigm for electron simulations", Quantum Monte Carlo simulations, The Helmholtz International Beamline for Extreme Fields   

    From The Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres (DE) via “phys.org” : “Advocating a new paradigm for electron simulations” 

    From The Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres (DE)



    July 1, 2022

    The expanded theoretical foundations meet new experimental tools such as those found at the Helmholtz International Beamline for Extreme Fields (HIBEF). Together, effects that were previously out of reach can now be investigated. Credit: HZDR / Science Communication Lab.

    Although most fundamental mathematical equations that describe electronic structures are long known, they are too complex to be solved in practice. This has hampered progress in physics, chemistry and the material sciences. Thanks to modern high-performance computing clusters and the establishment of the simulation method density functional theory (DFT), researchers were able to change this situation. However, even with these tools the modeled processes are in many cases still drastically simplified. Now, physicists at the Center for Advanced Systems Understanding (CASUS) and the Institute of Radiation Physics at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) succeeded in significantly improving the DFT method. This opens up new possibilities for experiments with ultra-high intensity lasers, as the group explains in the Journal of Chemical Theory and Computation.

    In the new publication, Young Investigator Group Leader Dr. Tobias Dornheim, lead author Dr. Zhandos Moldabekov (both CASUS, HZDR) and Dr. Jan Vorberger (Institute of Radiation Physics, HZDR) take on one of the most fundamental challenges of our time: accurately describing how billions of quantum particles such as electrons interact. These so-called quantum many-body systems are at the heart of many research fields within physics, chemistry, material science, and related disciplines. Indeed, most material properties are determined by the complex quantum mechanical behavior of interacting electrons. While the fundamental mathematical equations that describe electronic structures are, in principle, long known, they are too complex to be solved in practice. Therefore, the actual understanding of elaborately designed materials has remained very limited.

    This unsatisfactory situation has changed with the advent of modern high-performance computing clusters, which has given rise to the new field of computational quantum many-body theory. Here, a particularly successful tool is density functional theory (DFT), which has given unprecedented insights into the properties of materials. DFT is currently considered one of the most important simulation methods in physics, chemistry, and the material sciences. It is especially adept in describing many-electron systems. Indeed, the number of scientific publications based on DFT calculations has been exponentially increasing over the last decade and companies have used the method to successfully calculate properties of materials as accurate as never before.

    Overcoming a drastic simplification

    Many such properties that can be calculated using DFT are obtained in the framework of linear response theory. This concept is also used in many experiments in which the (linear) response of the system of interest to an external perturbation such as a laser is measured. In this way, the system can be diagnosed and essential parameters like density or temperature can be obtained. Linear response theory often renders experiment and theory feasible in the first place and is nearly ubiquitous throughout physics and related disciplines. However, it is still a drastic simplification of the processes and a strong limitation.

    In their latest publication, the researchers are breaking new ground by extending the DFT method beyond the simplified linear regime. Thus, non-linear effects in quantities like density waves, stopping power, and structure factors can be calculated and compared to experimental results from real materials for the first time.

    Prior to this publication these non-linear effects were only reproduced by a set of elaborate calculation methods, namely, quantum Monte Carlo simulations. Although delivering exact results, this method is limited to constrained system parameters, as it requires a lot of computational power. Hence, there has been a big need for faster simulation methods.

    “The DFT approach we present in our paper is 1,000 to 10,000 times faster than quantum Monte Carlo calculations,” says Zhandos Moldabekov. “Moreover, we were able to demonstrate across temperature regimes ranging from ambient to extreme conditions, that this comes not to the detriment of accuracy. The DFT-based methodology of the non-linear response characteristics of quantum-correlated electrons opens up the enticing possibility to study new non-linear phenomena in complex materials.”

    More opportunities for modern free electron lasers

    “We see that our new methodology fits very well to the capabilities of modern experimental facilities like the Helmholtz International Beamline for Extreme Fields, which is co-operated by HZDR and went into operation only recently,” explains Jan Vorberger. “With high power lasers and free electron lasers we can create exactly these non-linear excitations we can now study theoretically and examine them with unprecedented temporal and spatial resolution. Theoretical and experimental tools are ready to study new effects in matter under extreme conditions that have not been accessible before.”

    “This paper is a great example to illustrate the direction my recently established group is heading to,” says Tobias Dornheim, leading the Young Investigator Group “Frontiers of Computational Quantum Many-Body Theory” installed in early 2022. “We have been mainly active in the high energy density physics community in the past years. Now, we are devoted to push the frontiers of science by providing computational solutions to quantum many-body problems in many different contexts. We believe that the present advance in electronic structure theory will be useful for researchers in a number of research fields.”

    See the full article here.


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    The Helmholtz Association (DE)

    The Helmholtz Association of German Research Centers (DE) is the largest scientific organisation in Germany. It is a union of 18 scientific-technical and biological-medical research centers. The official mission of the Association is “solving the grand challenges of science, society and industry”. Scientists at Helmholtz therefore focus research on complex systems which affect human life and the environment. The namesake of the association is the German physiologist and physicist Hermann von Helmholtz.

    The annual budget of the Helmholtz Association amounts to €4.56 billion, of which about 72% is raised from public funds. The remaining 28% of the budget is acquired by the 19 individual Helmholtz Centres in the form of contract funding. The public funds are provided by the federal government (90%) and the rest by the States of Germany (10%).

    The Helmholtz Association was ranked #6 in 2020 by the Nature Index, which measures the largest contributors to papers published in 82 leading journals. was created in 1995 to formalise existing relationships between several globally-renowned independent research centres. The Helmholtz Association distributes core funding from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) to its, now, 19 autonomous research centers and evaluates their effectiveness against the highest international standards.

    Members of the Helmholtz Association are:

    Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research (Alfred-Wegener-Institut für Polar- und Meeresforschung, AWI), Bremerhaven
    Helmholtz Center for Information Security, CISPA, Saarbrücken
    German Electron Synchrotron (Deutsches Elektronen-Synchrotron, DESY), Hamburg
    German Cancer Research Center (Deutsches Krebsforschungszentrum, DKFZ), Heidelberg
    German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt, DLR), Cologne
    German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases (Deutsches Zentrum für Neurodegenerative Erkrankungen; DZNE), Bonn
    Forschungszentrum Jülich (FZJ) Jülich Research Center, Jülich
    Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (Karlsruher Institut für Technologie, KIT), (formerly Forschungszentrum Karlsruhe), Karlsruhe
    Helmholtz Center for Infection Research, (Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung, HZI), Braunschweig
    GFZ German Research Center for Geosciences (Helmholtz-Zentrum Potsdam – Deutsches GeoForschungsZentrum GFZ, Potsdam
    Helmholtz-Zentrum Hereon Geesthacht, formerly known as Gesellschaft für Kernenergieverwertung in Schiffbau und Schiffahrt mbH (GKSS)
    Helmholtz München German Research Centre for Environmental Health (HMGU), Neuherberg
    GSI Helmholtz Center for Heavy Ion Research (GSI Helmholtzzentrum für Schwerionenforschung), Darmstadt
    Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin for Materials and Energy (Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin für Materialien und Energie, HZB), Berlin
    Helmholtz Center for Environmental Research (Helmholtz-Zentrum für Umweltforschung, UFZ), Leipzig
    MPG Institute of Plasma Physics (Max-Planck-Institut für Plasmaphysik, IPP), Garching
    Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine in the Helmholtz Association (Max-Delbrück-Centrum für Molekulare Medizin in der Helmholtz-Gemeinschaft, MDC), Berlin-Buch
    Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) formerly known as Forschungszentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (FZD) changed 2011 from the Leibniz Association to the Helmholtz Association of German Research Centers, Dresden
    Helmholtz Center for Ocean Research Kiel (GEOMAR) formerly known as Leibniz Institute of Marine Sciences (IFM-GEOMAR)

    Helmholtz Institutes are partnerships between a Helmholtz Center and a university (the institutes are not members of the Helmholtz Association themselves). Examples of Helmholtz Institutes include:

    Helmholtz Institute for RNA-based Infection Research (HIRI), Würzburg, established in 2017

  • richardmitnick 8:13 am on July 2, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "The Era of Higgs Physics", , , , , Higgs physics, , , Physics, The DOE's Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory Tevatron Accelerator   

    From “Physics” : “The Era of Higgs Physics” 

    About Physics

    From “Physics”

    Dan Garisto

    Ten years of Higgs physics have revealed how much more there is to learn about the mysterious particle.

    At the Higgs discovery announcement, CERN Director General Rolf Heuer congratulates François Englert and Peter Higgs, who would later receive the 2013 Nobel Prize in Physics for their theoretical description of the origin of mass—which was confirmed by the Higgs boson detection.

    This article is part of a series of pieces that Physics Magazine is publishing to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Higgs boson discovery. See also: Poem: Higgs Boson: The Visible Glyph; Research News: A Particle is Born: Making the Higgs Famous; (upcoming) Q&A: The Higgs Boson: A Theory, An Observation, A Tool; (upcoming) Podcast: The Higgs, Ten Years After; and Collection: The History of Observations of the Higgs Boson.

    On July 4, 2012, the discovery of a new particle was announced to a packed house at CERN in Switzerland. After presentations from the two main experimental collaborations of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), then-CERN Director General Rolf Heuer took the stage. “As a layman, I would now say ‘I think we have it,’” he quipped. “You agree?” The audience—mostly physicists, including the particle’s namesake—cheered for the discovery of the Higgs boson.

    Since then, elation has mellowed, sobered by the sense that the Higgs boson is just another confirmation of the standard model, the theory of particles of matter—fermions—and their force-carrying counterparts—bosons.

    Despite its success, the standard model frustratingly lacks explanations for phenomena such as dark matter, gravity, and neutrino masses. If the Higgs boson had unexpected features, it might have given researchers a hint as to how to explain these missing pieces. As is, the Higgs’s failure to deviate from existing theory has left researchers adrift, without any clear route to theories beyond the standard model.

    Or so the story often goes. It is true that after ten years, nothing about the Higgs boson disagrees with the standard model predictions. But for the physicists who work on Higgs physics, this is a myopic view. Focusing on the lack of new physics ignores what has been learned about the Higgs boson over the past decade—and what more there is to learn.

    “Precision Higgs physics must be the toughest to publicize to the general public because you know, they will say, ‘well, if you already measured this, why does this matter?’” says Marcela Carena, a theoretical physicist at The DOE’s Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Illinois. “But in reality, it matters a lot.”

    [Earlier than the LHC at CERN, The DOE’s Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory had sought the Higgs with the Tevatron Accelerator.

    But the Tevatron could barely muster 2 TeV [Terraelecton volts], not enough energy to find the Higgs. CERN’s LHC is capable of 13 TeV.

    Another possible attempt in the U.S. would have been the Super Conducting Supercollider.

    Fermilab has gone on to become a world powerhouse in neutrino research with the LBNF/DUNE project which will send neutrinos 800 miles to SURF-The Sanford Underground Research Facility in in Lead, South Dakota.]

    For the last decade, scientists have worked to verify that the discovered Higgs is indeed the same Higgs boson that theorists predicted. Researchers at ATLAS and the Compact Muon Solenoid (CMS)—the LHC’s general-purpose experiments—continue to put the particle through increasingly rigorous tests, using novel techniques to uncover events—such as rare Higgs decays—that are hidden among similar-looking events or “backgrounds.”









    This ongoing effort offers a clear payoff, as it could answer outstanding questions related to how the Higgs couples to other particles and whether it is but one of many Higgs-like particles. Determining these Higgs properties, Carena points out, could also address underlying mysteries, such as the nature of dark matter or the origin of matter-antimatter asymmetry.

    Far from being a theoretical dead-end, the Higgs is more important than ever. “The Higgs boson is a unique particle that raises profound questions about the fundamental laws of nature,” the authors of the 2020 European Strategy Update wrote. “It also provides a powerful experimental tool to study these questions.”

    The Devil in the Details

    With hindsight, the discovery of the Higgs boson can appear foreordained, as though it was only a matter of time until the correct theory was confirmed. But in the years leading up to 2012, the Higgs discovery was far from certain.

    The standard model predicts that elementary particles acquire their mass through the Higgs boson. But right up to the discovery, theorists were still writing papers [Journal of High Energy Physics] about mass-generating mechanisms that did not involve the Higgs. These models were not as popular among theorists but still carried weight so long as the Higgs remained undiscovered.

    At the same time, experimentalists were having their own doubts. In 2011, ATLAS began seeing a signal indicative of a Higgs—but only in W-boson decays, which could not provide a precise Higgs mass. “People were really so anxious about the new data,” says Marumi Kado, the ATLAS Collaboration deputy spokesperson. “There was not a feeling of inevitability.”

    At the same time, experimentalists were having their own doubts. In 2011, ATLAS began seeing a signal [Proceedings of Science] indicative of a Higgs—but only in W-boson decays, which could not provide a precise Higgs mass. “People were really so anxious about the new data,” says Marumi Kado, the ATLAS Collaboration deputy spokesperson. “There was not a feeling of inevitability.”

    By early 2012, hints of a possible Higgs boson with a mass of around 125 GeV were around the three σ benchmark, a measure of statistical significance that is lower than the five σ level conventionally used to claim a discovery. “I think at that point, it was clear that we were likely going to hit a discovery with the additional data that we were going to collect,” says Nicholas Wardle, an experimentalist and coleader of Higgs physics for the CMS Collaboration.

    The discovery came in July, but LHC researchers initially referred to the detected particle as a “Higgs boson candidate,” as major uncertainties remained even after the announcement. Some of the early data suggested, for example, that the new particle was decaying into two photons [Physical Review Letters] at double the rate predicted by the standard model. The excess fueled speculation [Physical Review D] that the detected particle might have spin 2, not the predicted spin 0. “There were a lot of bolts that needed to be tightened,” Kado says. “It was nerve-racking.”

    With the full Run 1 dataset available by 2013, researchers were able to put some worries to bed. The newly discovered Higgs is indeed a spin-0 particle, and it is CP-even—meaning that it couples to particles in the same way that it couples to antiparticles with reversed parity. Additionally, measurements from ATLAS and CMS managed to pin down the Higgs mass to 125 GeV, with an error of less than 1%.

    Getting to Know the Higgs

    Run 2, which went from 2012 to 2015, allowed ATLAS and CMS to increase their data sixfold. “We just had so much more data,” Wardle says. “That opens up a whole new realm of possibilities.” New machine-learning approaches were able to sift through noisy backgrounds, clearly identifying particles like bottom quarks, even amid the wreckage of a messy collision.

    On the theory side, researchers went to extreme lengths to reduce uncertainties, using so-called next-to-next-to-leading order calculations for processes such as top quark production [Physical Review Letters]. By considering additional, smaller terms in the infinite series that represents the interaction between two particles, they were able to make unprecedentedly precise predictions. Improvements to the detectors also enabled better event discrimination.

    Representative of this progress are measurements of the Higgs decay to two muons. The signal for this rare event is normally lost in the noise of Z-boson decays to two muons. Despite the difficulty of the search, the ATLAS [Physics Letters B] and CMS [Journal of High Energy Physics] collaborations recently reported three σ evidence for the Higgs decaying to two muons—providing hope that researchers will soon claim discovery of this seemingly out-of-reach detection.

    The decay to muons is unique in that it would be the first evidence of the Higgs interacting with a lighter fermion—previous observations of Higgs-fermion interactions have all involved the heaviest fermion generation (bottom quark, top quark, and tau lepton). Discovering that all mass-bearing particles get their heft from the Higgs would be a critical confirmation of the standard model and would help rule out competing theories with multiple Higgs particles.

    Higgs boson decaying into two muons (red tracks) in the ATLAS detector. ATLAS Collaboration/CERN

    Because the Higgs was expected to couple with muons, this development has been met with muted enthusiasm. In fact, many physicists are finding the Higgs to be a bit too “standard” for their tastes, with no signs of new physics that might expose cracks in the standard model. Excitement temporarily rose in 2015 when strange data [Physical Review Letters] appeared at energies of 750 GeV, but the anomaly was later found to be a statistical fluke.

    Other results, such as the discovery of the Higgs coupling to the top quark, have met similarly subdued reactions. “We didn’t make a sufficient amount of fuss,” laments Kado. He says that people assume that a result that matches the standard model must be obvious, when in fact much about the Higgs has yet to be established by experiment.

    Standard Remodeling

    Standard model or not, the Higgs itself revolutionized the field. “There was a blossoming of new ideas, and the landscape of particle physics completely changed,” says Kado. Carena agrees: “After you discover the Higgs, the first question you have is, ‘Well, why not more of that kind?’” Many theorists have wondered about models with multiple Higgs particles, possibly hiding at higher energies, or even entire sectors connected to the Higgs.

    Models with Higgs portals [Physics Reports]—connections to a coterie of extremely feebly interacting particles coupling only to the Higgs—have flourished because of their ability to explain dark matter and other outstanding issues with the standard model. Supersymmetric (SUSY) theories—which propose a new symmetry between bosons and fermions—still have a place in the theorist’s toolbox, but because of a lack of evidence, they are no longer predominant. Instead, theorists work more closely with experimental results. “There are a lot of inputs we have gotten from experimental data that have constrained the way we build models,” Carena says.

    New ideas from theorists have also shaped the experimental program. This fruitful interplay is perhaps best encapsulated by the effective field theory (EFT) [Pramana] approach at the LHC. Using the EFT approach, theorists can guide experimentalists to make precision measurements sensitive to undiscovered particles. For example, the decay of a Higgs to a Z boson and a photon is mediated by contributions from all particles. If the decay rate deviates from predictions, that could be a sign of an unseen heavy particle.

    Even if a Higgs decay matches standard model predictions, it can still provide valuable information. Some alternative Higgs models, Wardle points out, predict that the Higgs boson couples to leptons, such as the electron, differently than to quarks. As such, determining all the coupling strengths and other Higgs parameters isn’t stamp collecting—as some derisively call such measurements—but a vital effort to put limits on theories, he says.

    Run 3 will begin in earnest on July 5, 2022, the day after the 10th anniversary of the Higgs discovery, promising particle physicists a new tranche of data to pore over. Wardle hopes data will allow CMS to reach five sigma and declare a discovery for the Higgs decay to two muons. LHCb (one of the more-specialized LHC experiments) could play a role as well by probing the Higgs coupling to charm quarks. The search for beyond-the-standard-model Higgs properties is “now one of the main pillars of the CMS search program,” says Jan Steggemann, a coleader of Higgs physics for the CMS Collaboration. Carena is particularly interested in the Higgs’ self-coupling, which the High Luminosity LHC—an upgrade planned for 2029—will be able to measure via two-Higgs production.

    Accelerating Improvements

    In 1975, the first paper on Higgs boson “phenomenology”—data-driven predictions—concluded with regrets from the authors: “We apologize to experimentalists for having no idea what is the mass of the Higgs boson.” They were also sorry for being unsure about its couplings to other particles. “For these reasons, we do not want to encourage big experimental searches for the Higgs boson.” Four decades later, physicists have not only found the Higgs, but they have assembled a collection of millions of detections of these elusive particles using the LHC as the world’s first “Higgs factory” (see Opinion: Exploring Futures for Particle Physics).

    The Higgs boson is often referred to as the missing piece to the standard model, which explains how the known fundamental particles fit together. Johan Jarnestad/The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.

    What was once too inaccessible to dream of has become standard, in part because physicists have surpassed their own projections. “There were people who claimed that the LHC was too ‘dirty’ a machine,” Steggemann says, referring to large backgrounds that can obscure small signals. But he says that physicists have developed techniques, such as machine learning, that can filter through the dirt. And those efforts are paying off, as once-thought-impossible measurements, like the Higgs decay to two muons, are now eminently possible.

    Ten years after its discovery, the Higgs may have disappointed some with its adherence to the standard model. But its apparent conformity has proven useful, and its remaining secrets continue to inspire particle physicists. “I don’t think particle physics is in a crisis—we have so many things to explain,” Carena says. “I would call it an opportunity.”

    See the full article here .


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Physicists are drowning in a flood of research papers in their own fields and coping with an even larger deluge in other areas of physics. How can an active researcher stay informed about the most important developments in physics? Physics highlights a selection of papers from the Physical Review journals. In consultation with expert scientists, the editors choose these papers for their importance and/or intrinsic interest. To highlight these papers, Physics features three kinds of articles: Viewpoints are commentaries written by active researchers, who are asked to explain the results to physicists in other subfields. Focus stories are written by professional science writers in a journalistic style and are intended to be accessible to students and non-experts. Synopses are brief editor-written summaries. Physics provides a much-needed guide to the best in physics, and we welcome your comments.

  • richardmitnick 9:01 pm on July 1, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "A Particle is Born:: Making the Higgs Famous", "Particle Fever", , , , , Leon Lederman of Fermilab "The God Particle", , , Physics, Sean Carroll "The Particle at the End of the Universe", The DOE's Fermilab National Acccelerator Laboratory Tevatron Particle Accelerator   

    From “Physics” : “A Particle is Born:: Making the Higgs Famous” 

    About Physics

    From “Physics”

    June 30, 2022
    Michael Schirber

    Science communicators had a field day with the 2012 Higgs discovery, as it offered a chance to energize the public about fundamental physics research.

    Figure 1. A representation of the standard model, designed by Walter Murch for the 2013 film Particle Fever. The Higgs boson is shown in the center, surrounded by the other particles—the photon and other “force-carriers” in blue, the electron and other “leptons” in green, and the quarks in red.

    This article is part of a series of pieces that Physics Magazine is publishing to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Higgs boson discovery. See also (upcoming): Poem: Higgs Boson: The Visible Glyph; News Feature: The Era of Higgs Physics; Q&A: The Higgs Boson: A Theory, An Observation, A Tool; Podcast: The Higgs-Ten Years After; and Collection: The History of Observations of the Higgs Boson.

    The Higgs discovery, announced on July 4, 2012, was a major happening in science but also in science communication.


    [Earlier than the LHC at CERN, The DOE’s Fermi National Accelerator lab had sought the Higgs with the Tevatron Accelerator.

    But the Tevatron could barely muster 2 TeV [Terraelecton volts], not enough energy to find the Higgs. CERN’s LHC is capable of 13 TeV.

    Another possible attempt in the U.S. would have been the Super Conducting Supercollider.

    Fermilab has gone on to become a world powerhouse in neutrino research with the LBNF/DUNE project which will send neutrinos 800 miles to SURF-The Sanford Underground Research Facility in in Lead, South Dakota.]

    Rarely has so much effort been made to engage the public over a fundamental physics topic. Front-page headlines, best-selling books, public lectures, TV interviews, and feature-length films all tried to explain the Higgs boson—a particle whose claim to fame is its association with the generation of mass. Ten years later, the Higgs may not be a household name, but the intense limelight on this fundamental entity did offer communicators an opportunity to tell a larger story about the scientific enterprise.

    “The Higgs boson is the capstone of the standard model of particle physics,” says physicist Sean Carroll from the California Institute of Technology, who wrote about the Higgs in his 2012 book The Particle at the End of the Universe. He’s also helped to popularize the Higgs by giving public lectures, writing blogs, and making TV appearances. He believes the discovery was a “watershed moment,” as it showed that physicists were clearly on the right track with their understanding of the fundamental workings of the Universe. “That kind of accomplishment should not go unrecognized,” Carroll says.

    So how have science communicators tried to make the Higgs boson famous? One of the earliest attempts was by the Nobel prize winner Leon Lederman, who wrote the 1993 popular science book The God Particle. In it, Lederman described the Higgs as the crucial but elusive piece to our understanding of the structure of matter. “[The book] was spectacularly successful in that you literally cannot have a conversation with a person on the street about the Higgs without someone talking about the God particle,” Carroll says. But many physicists regret the connection that was made between the Higgs and religion. “There’s a lot of work to be done in undoing the damage,” Carroll says.

    Another early attempt at capturing the public’s imagination came with the cocktail party analogy, which earned David Miller of the University College London a bottle of champagne from the UK science minister in 1993. Miller likened the Higgs field—a space-filling energy out of which the Higgs boson arises—to a bustling crowd of partygoers. When a celebrity tries to walk through the room, the crowd presses toward them, slowing their progress. In a similar way, the Higgs field can be drawn toward a particle, slowing its progress and giving it mass. The Higgs is more drawn, for example, to the top quark than to the up quark, hence the top is more massive than the up.

    These types of metaphors offer a basic appreciation of the physics behind the Higgs boson and its field. But getting people to take the time to learn about the Higgs requires a more human approach, says Mark Levinson—director of the 2013 film Particle Fever. “If you really want to get the message out, if you want to engage a bigger audience, it needs to be personalized,” he says. His award-winning film—which ran in theaters across the globe and was distributed on Netflix—recounts the efforts at CERN in Geneva leading up to the Higgs discovery, with Levinson’s cameras following a handful of theorists and experimentalists during their day-to-day activities. “It is interesting to show why people pursue these incredibly abstract ideas,” he says.

    When Levinson started shooting in 2008, he was not focused on the Higgs boson, as physicists had warned him that a discovery might take too long to materialize. But once promising signs showed up at CERN’s Large Hadron Collider (LHC), Levinson and his editor Walter Murch retooled their film’s narrative to give a leading role to the Higgs. They even created a graphic with the Higgs in the center—a representation that the physics community has come to embrace, Levinson says (Fig. 1). The movie’s big climactic scene is when LHC scientists revealed their data to a packed auditorium that included a visibly moved Peter Higgs, who began working in the 1960s—along with other theorists—on his namesake particle. Seeing an 80-year-old physicist tear up over a vindication of his life’s work, “that’s a great story,” Levinson says.

    The 2012 announcement was a media hit as well, with over 12,000 news reports on the Higgs boson, according to James Gillies, who was head of CERN’s communication group when the discovery was announced (Fig. 2). Like Levinson, Gillies believes the Higgs was an easy sell to the public because the human effort surrounding the discovery was so immense. “We cast fundamental science as the latest step in humankind’s journey of exploration,” he says.

    Figure 2. The Higgs discovery was covered by newspapers from around the world.

    Gillies admits that it can be difficult to assess whether the Higgs excitement had a lasting impact on the public’s appreciation of fundamental science. Very little data has been collected on changes in scientific understanding following a big discovery. “But there’s no doubt in my mind that CERN, LHC, and Higgs are quite common currency these days,” Gillies says. “My experience has taught me that people are more curious about basic research than we tend to think.”

    Levinson agrees. “Many people have said, I really didn’t understand it, but I loved the film.” The science, he says, is rather complicated, but the story about scientists and their passion is something that audiences can identify with. “The Higgs is fundamental to the physics theory, but it’s bigger than that,” Levinson says. “It’s more about our quest to understand the way the Universe works.”

    “There’s no shortage of enthusiasm among the public to learn about the Higgs boson,” Carroll says. He thinks science communicators can always do better, “but I think the Higgs boson is something where we did take advantage of the excitement to teach people a little bit of physics.” For his part, Carroll used the discovery to explain some of the quantum field theory that lies at the basis of the Higgs boson prediction. “We might as well leverage our big, happy discoveries to better acquaint the public with how science works and what scientists are finding.”









    See the full article here.


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Physicists are drowning in a flood of research papers in their own fields and coping with an even larger deluge in other areas of physics. How can an active researcher stay informed about the most important developments in physics? Physics highlights a selection of papers from the Physical Review journals. In consultation with expert scientists, the editors choose these papers for their importance and/or intrinsic interest. To highlight these papers, Physics features three kinds of articles: Viewpoints are commentaries written by active researchers, who are asked to explain the results to physicists in other subfields. Focus stories are written by professional science writers in a journalistic style and are intended to be accessible to students and non-experts. Synopses are brief editor-written summaries. Physics provides a much-needed guide to the best in physics, and we welcome your comments.

  • richardmitnick 1:49 pm on July 1, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Laboratory astrophysics", "Laser creates a miniature magnetosphere", , , , Magnetic reconnection is a fundamental process in many space and astrophysical phenomena such as solar flares and magnetic substorms., Physics   

    From Osaka University [大阪大学](JP) via “phys.org” : “Laser creates a miniature magnetosphere” 

    From Osaka University [大阪大学](JP)



    June 30, 2022

    (a) Schematics of the experiment. By irradiating a plastic target with the Gekko XII laser, plasma flow is generated in the presence of a weak magnetic field. The weak magnetic field is distorted by the dynamic pressure of the plasma flow and the anti-parallel magnetic configuration is created. (b) The insert schematically shows that the elongated magnetic field reconnects and releases the magnetic field energy as the reconnection outflows. Pure electron outflows have been measured with CTS for the first time in laser-produced plasmas. Credit: 2022 K. Sakai et al. Direct observations of pure electron outflow in magnetic reconnection. Credit: Scientific Reports

    Magnetic reconnections in laser-produced plasmas have been studied to understand microscopic electron dynamics, which is applicable to space and astrophysical phenomena. Osaka University researchers, in collaboration with researchers at the National Institute for Fusion Science and other universities, have reported the direct measurements of pure electron outflows relevant to magnetic reconnection using a high-power laser, Gekko XII, at the Institute of Laser Engineering, Osaka University in Japan. Their findings are published in Scientific Reports.

    Magnetic reconnection is a fundamental process in many space and astrophysical phenomena such as solar flares and magnetic substorms, where the magnetic energy is released as plasma energy. It is known that electron dynamics plays essential roles in the triggering mechanism of magnetic reconnection. However, it has been highly challenging to observe the tiny electron scale phenomena in the vast universe.

    Thus, the researchers have created situation-only electrons directly coupled with magnetic fields in laser-produced plasmas. The so-called laboratory astrophysics allows one to access the miniature universe.

    “In space plasmas, the key players sometimes hide in the small scale. It is very difficult to see their actions in large-scale space phenomena, even via cutting-edge numerical simulations,” study author Toseo Moritaka explains. “Now laser experiments can arrange a new stage to shed light on their actions. The results will bridge various observations and simulations in macroscopic and microscopic points of view.”

    By using collective Thomson scattering measurements, the pure electron outflow associated with the electron-scale magnetic reconnection has been measured in laser produced plasmas for the first time.

    “The outcomes of this research are applicable not only to space and astrophysical plasmas, but also to magnetic propulsion of spacecrafts and also fusion plasmas,” study lead author Yasuhiro Kuramitsu explains.

    “Microscopic electron dynamics governs macroscopic phenomena, such as magnetic reconnections and collisionless shocks. This is a unique and universal property of plasma, which is not seen in ordinary gas and liquid. Now we can address this in laboratories by direct local measurements of the plasma and magnetic field. We will tackle long-standing open problems in the universe by modeling them in laboratories. Knowing the nature of plasmas may lead us to realize, for example, fusion plasma.”

    See the full article here.


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Osaka University [大阪大学](JP) is a public research university located in Osaka Prefecture, Japan. It was one of Imperial Universities in Japan, one of the Designated National University and selected as a Top Type university of Top Global University Project by the Japanese government. It is usually ranked among the top three public universities in Japan, along with The University of Tokyo[(東京大] (JP) and Kyoto University [京都大学](JP). It is ranked third overall among Japanese universities and 71st worldwide in the 2020 QS World University Rankings. Thomson Reuters, in its “World’s Most Innovative Universities” ranking ranked Osaka University as the 18th in the world and 1st in Japan.
    Osaka University was the sixth modern university in Japan at its founding in 1931. However, the history of the institution includes much older predecessors in Osaka such as the Kaitokudō founded in 1724 and the Tekijuku founded in 1838. Numerous prominent scholars and scientists have attended or worked at Osaka University, such as Nobel Laureate in Physics Hideki Yukawa, manga artist Osamu Tezuka, Lasker Award winner Hidesaburō Hanafusa, author Ryōtarō Shiba, and discoverer of regulatory T cells Shimon Sakaguchi.

    Osaka University’s English-medium degree programmes attract international students from all over the world.

  • richardmitnick 11:56 am on July 1, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "The beauty and benefits of biodiversity", Adaptability lies at the very heart of speciation., , As well as working with living organisms the researchers also study the genetic material of specimens held in collections., , , , , , , , , , One of the most beautiful aspects of biodiversity is how species co-​evolve and exist together., Physics, Species diversity is only one aspect of biodiversity-the others being habitat diversity and genetic diversity., Species diversity makes ecosystems resilient., The beauty of the world’s coral reefs never fails to amaze., , Time is of the essence because biodiversity is under threat and declining rapidly., Unfertilized minimally cultivated meadows and dry grasslands are incredibly diverse which makes them not just beautiful but essential., Using the eDNA method it took the researchers less than two years to confirm the presence of more fish species and families than experts had managed to identify during 13 years of reef dives.   

    From The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zürich [ETH Zürich] [Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zürich] (CH): “The beauty and benefits of biodiversity” 

    From The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zürich [ETH Zürich] [Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zürich] (CH)

    Peter Rüegg


    Biodiversity is beautiful, but it’s also vitally important. ETH researchers are getting to the heart of how species diversity and genetic diversity evolve – and why we must fight to preserve them.

    Spring is synonymous with bright yellow dandelions, lush green fields and cloudless blue skies, a captivating combination of colours that sends many people into raptures of delight. Yet biodiversity researchers such as Alex Widmer, Professor of Plant Ecological Genetics in the Department of Environmental Systems Science, take a rather different view: “I know too much about ecosystems to take any pleasure in something so monotonous,” he says. His notion of beauty tends more towards dry grasslands and natural meadows rich in different species. “A far cry,” he says, “from the picture-​postcard idyll.” He argues that such areas are beautiful in much less obvious ways. Unfertilized, minimally cultivated meadows and dry grasslands are incredibly diverse, he says, which makes them not just beautiful, but essential.

    “Species diversity makes ecosystems resilient,” says Widmer, “and at the core of that resilience is genetic diversity.” Without genetic diversity, he explains, species and organisms cannot adapt to existing and evolving environmental conditions. And it’s this adaptability that lies at the very heart of speciation.

    Natural meadows exhibit high levels of diversity. (Photograph: Peter Rüegg)

    Loïc Pellissier, Professor of Ecosystems and Landscape Evolution in the Department of Environmental Systems Science, agrees that much of the beauty of biodiversity is hidden from view. One of the most beautiful aspects of biodiversity, he says, is how species co-​evolve and exist together. “All organisms have evolved to interact with each other, as anyone who works in species diversity will tell you. To me, ecosystems are like huge jigsaw puzzles, in which all the pieces fit together more or less perfectly.” His research focuses on how species diversity arises and evolves. Because this occurs over the course of millions of years, Pellissier relies on computer models to simulate geological processes and the evolutionary forces that lead to the formation of new species.

    Genetic diversity

    Pellissier also conducts numerous field projects to unlock the secrets of species diversity. He favours a new and increasingly popular method that enables ecologists to detect species and organisms from the DNA they leave behind in the environment – known for short as environmental DNA, or eDNA. Researchers simply collect water and soil samples and analyse them to see what genetic material they contain. They then match whatever DNA they find to the corresponding organisms, provided a reference is available for this. This method provides a relatively quick way to determine whether a species is present in an ecosystem or not – and it works for a wide variety of organisms. “eDNA gives us a new insight into an ecosystem’s diversity,” he says.

    Recently, Pellissier co-​authored a study on the diversity of reef fish worldwide. Researchers collected over 200 seawater samples from various tropical coral reefs and then “fished out” whatever fish DNA they could find. Using the eDNA method it took the researchers less than two years to confirm the presence of more fish species and families than experts had managed to identify during 13 years of reef dives.

    Yet species diversity is only one aspect of biodiversity, the others being habitat diversity and genetic diversity. “Of the three, genetic diversity is the one that has been most neglected,” says Widmer. “Studying and monitoring genetic diversity is much more difficult and time-​consuming than monitoring habitats or species numbers.” Hence the numerous inventories of Swiss plants, animals and habitats – from forests and wetlands to dry grasslands. “Yet there isn’t a single monitoring project in Switzerland that focuses on the genetic diversity of living things,” says Widmer, “This is despite the fact that genetic diversity is fundamental for species diversity and adaptability.”

    To fill this gap, Widmer has joined forces with the Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research WSL on a project that aims to add this crucial element to Switzerland’s existing biodiversity monitoring systems. With the support of the Swiss Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN), Widmer and his colleagues have already launched a pilot study of five different species, including two plant species, a butterfly and a toad. The fifth species in their study is the yellowhammer, a songbird commonly found in cultivated areas of Switzerland. The researchers have already sequenced the genomes of one hundred individual yellowhammers from right across the country.

    The beauty of the world’s coral reefs never fails to amaze. Yet behind such splendour, there lies much more – namely, a diverse habitat for a host of marine life. (Photograph: Stocksy)

    As well as working with living organisms, the researchers also study the genetic material of specimens held in collections. “This tells us whether populations from over 100 years ago were as diverse as today’s, or whether some of that genetic diversity has been lost,” says Widmer. Research into biodiversity in Switzerland has already revealed a sharp decline in species diversity, he notes: “We’d like to find out whether the same applies to genetic diversity.” Once the pilot study is complete, Widmer’s goal is to set up a large-​scale monitoring project encompassing up to 50 species. These would be examined at regular intervals to detect changes in their genetic diversity. However, it is still unclear whether this complex and ambitious project will receive the necessary funding.

    Fragile and endangered beauty

    Time is of the essence because biodiversity is under threat and declining rapidly. It is only by firmly fitting together the many different pieces of the biodiversity puzzle that we can slow the extinction of individual species. Reduce this network by half, and species will die out a thousand times faster – and when external pressures such as climate change are factored in, species extinction will occur a thousand times faster again.

    “Biodiversity is essential to our lives,” says Widmer. “It impacts everything from our mental well-​being to whether we have food on the table.” Diverse ecosystems are much more stable and better geared for the future than monotonous, species-​poor habitats. Pellissier nods in agreement: “Biodiversity is like classical art in the sense that it can’t be replaced. If the earth loses its biological riches, it will lose its magic.”

    See the full article here .


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    ETH Zurich campus

    The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zürich [ETH Zürich] [Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zürich] (CH) is a public research university in the city of Zürich, Switzerland. Founded by the Swiss Federal Government in 1854 with the stated mission to educate engineers and scientists, the school focuses exclusively on science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Like its sister institution The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne [EPFL-École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne](CH) , it is part of The Swiss Federal Institutes of Technology Domain (ETH Domain)) , part of the The Swiss Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research [EAER][Eidgenössisches Departement für Wirtschaft, Bildung und Forschung] [Département fédéral de l’économie, de la formation et de la recherche] (CH).

    The university is an attractive destination for international students thanks to low tuition fees of 809 CHF per semester, PhD and graduate salaries that are amongst the world’s highest, and a world-class reputation in academia and industry. There are currently 22,200 students from over 120 countries, of which 4,180 are pursuing doctoral degrees. In the 2021 edition of the QS World University Rankings ETH Zürich is ranked 6th in the world and 8th by the Times Higher Education World Rankings 2020. In the 2020 QS World University Rankings by subject it is ranked 4th in the world for engineering and technology (2nd in Europe) and 1st for earth & marine science.

    As of November 2019, 21 Nobel laureates, 2 Fields Medalists, 2 Pritzker Prize winners, and 1 Turing Award winner have been affiliated with the Institute, including Albert Einstein. Other notable alumni include John von Neumann and Santiago Calatrava. It is a founding member of the IDEA League and the International Alliance of Research Universities (IARU) and a member of the CESAER network.

    ETH Zürich was founded on 7 February 1854 by the Swiss Confederation and began giving its first lectures on 16 October 1855 as a polytechnic institute (eidgenössische polytechnische schule) at various sites throughout the city of Zurich. It was initially composed of six faculties: architecture, civil engineering, mechanical engineering, chemistry, forestry, and an integrated department for the fields of mathematics, natural sciences, literature, and social and political sciences.

    It is locally still known as Polytechnikum, or simply as Poly, derived from the original name eidgenössische polytechnische schule, which translates to “federal polytechnic school”.

    ETH Zürich is a federal institute (i.e., under direct administration by the Swiss government), whereas The University of Zürich [Universität Zürich ] (CH) is a cantonal institution. The decision for a new federal university was heavily disputed at the time; the liberals pressed for a “federal university”, while the conservative forces wanted all universities to remain under cantonal control, worried that the liberals would gain more political power than they already had. In the beginning, both universities were co-located in the buildings of the University of Zürich.

    From 1905 to 1908, under the presidency of Jérôme Franel, the course program of ETH Zürich was restructured to that of a real university and ETH Zürich was granted the right to award doctorates. In 1909 the first doctorates were awarded. In 1911, it was given its current name, Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule. In 1924, another reorganization structured the university in 12 departments. However, it now has 16 departments.

    ETH Zürich, EPFL (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne) [École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne](CH), and four associated research institutes form The Domain of the Swiss Federal Institutes of Technology (ETH Domain) [ETH-Bereich; Domaine des Écoles polytechniques fédérales] (CH) with the aim of collaborating on scientific projects.

    Reputation and ranking

    ETH Zürich is ranked among the top universities in the world. Typically, popular rankings place the institution as the best university in continental Europe and ETH Zürich is consistently ranked among the top 1-5 universities in Europe, and among the top 3-10 best universities of the world.

    Historically, ETH Zürich has achieved its reputation particularly in the fields of chemistry, mathematics and physics. There are 32 Nobel laureates who are associated with ETH Zürich, the most recent of whom is Richard F. Heck, awarded the Nobel Prize in chemistry in 2010. Albert Einstein is perhaps its most famous alumnus.

    In 2018, the QS World University Rankings placed ETH Zürich at 7th overall in the world. In 2015, ETH Zürich was ranked 5th in the world in Engineering, Science and Technology, just behind the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Stanford University and University of Cambridge (UK). In 2015, ETH Zürich also ranked 6th in the world in Natural Sciences, and in 2016 ranked 1st in the world for Earth & Marine Sciences for the second consecutive year.

    In 2016, Times Higher Education World University Rankings ranked ETH Zürich 9th overall in the world and 8th in the world in the field of Engineering & Technology, just behind the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Stanford University, California Institute of Technology, Princeton University, University of Cambridge(UK), Imperial College London(UK) and University of Oxford(UK) .

    In a comparison of Swiss universities by swissUP Ranking and in rankings published by CHE comparing the universities of German-speaking countries, ETH Zürich traditionally is ranked first in natural sciences, computer science and engineering sciences.

    In the survey CHE Excellence Ranking on the quality of Western European graduate school programs in the fields of biology, chemistry, physics and mathematics, ETH Zürich was assessed as one of the three institutions to have excellent programs in all the considered fields, the other two being Imperial College London (UK) and the University of Cambridge (UK), respectively.

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