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  • richardmitnick 10:43 am on November 14, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Physics, , The search for Dark Matter, ,   

    From Sanford Underground Research Facility: “Success of experiment requires testing” 

    SURF logo
    Sanford Underground levels

    From Sanford Underground Research Facility

    November 13, 2018
    Erin Broberg

    1
    Tomasz Biesiadzinski, project scientist for SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory (SLAC), works on the mock PMT [photomultiplier tubes] array. Erin Broberg

    “The LZ detector is kind of like a spacecraft,” said Tomasz Biesiadzinski, project scientist for SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory (SLAC). “Repairing it after it’s installed would be very difficult, so we do everything we can to make sure it works correctly the first time.”

    LZ Dark Matter Experiment at SURF lab

    LBNL LZ project at SURF, Lead, SD, USA

    Biesiadzinski himself is responsible for planning and carrying out tests during the assembly of time projection chamber (TPC), the main detector for LUX-ZEPLIN experiment (LZ). Currently being constructed on the 4850 Level at Sanford Underground Research Facility (Sanford Lab), this main detector consists of a large tank that will hold 7 tonnes of ultra-pure, cryogenic liquid xenon maintained at -100o C. All the pieces of this detector are designed to function with precision; it’s Biesiadzinski job to verify that each part continues to work correctly as they are integrated. That includes hundreds of photomultiplier tubes (PMT).

    Test run

    The most recent test was piecing together an intricate mock array for the PMTs, which will detect light signals created by the collision of a dark matter particle and a xenon atom, inside the main detector. In a soft-wall cleanroom in the Surface Laboratory at Sanford Lab, Biesiadzinski and his team carefully practiced placing instruments like thermometers, sensors and reflective covering. They practiced installing routing cabling, including PMT high voltage power cables, PMT signal cables and thermometer cables.

    “Essentially, we wanted to gain experience so we could be faster during the actual assembly. The faster we work, the more we limit dust exposure and therefore potential backgrounds,” said Biesiadzinski. “It was also an opportunity to test fit real components. We did find that there were some very tight places that motivated us to slightly redesign some small parts to make assembly easier.”

    These tests will make the installment of the actual LZ arrays much smoother.

    “LZ’s main detector will have two PMT arrays, one on the top of the tank and one on the bottom,” Biesiadzinski explained. “The bottom array will hold 241 PMTs pointing up into the liquid Xenon volume of the main detector. The top array will hold PMTs 253 pointing down on the liquid Xenon and the gas layer above it in the main detector.”

    In total, there will be 494 PMTs lining the main detector. If a WIMP streaks through the tank and strikes a xenon nucleus, two things will happen. First, the xenon will emit a flash of light. Then, it will release electrons, which drift in an electric field to the top of the tank, where they will produce a second flash of light. Hundreds of PMTs will be waiting to detect a characteristic combination of flashes from inside the tank—a WIMPs’ telltale signature.

    “Both arrays—top and bottom—record the light from particle interactions inside the detector, including, hopefully, dark matter,” said Biesiadzinski. “This data allows us to estimate both the energy created and 3D location of the interaction.”

    Catching light

    The PMTs used for LZ are extremely sensitive. Not only can they distinguish individual photons of light arriving just a few tens of nanoseconds apart, they can also see the UV light produced by xenon that is far outside the human vision range. The X-Y location of events in the detector can be measured using the top PMT array to within a few millimeters for sufficiently energetic events.

    To insure every bit of light makes its way to a PMT, the inside surfaces of the arrays are covered with Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE or teflon), a material highly reflective to xenon scintillation light, in between the PMT faces.

    “This way, photons that don’t enter the PMTs right away—and are therefore not recorded—are reflected and will get a second, third, and so on, chance of being detected as they bounce around the detector,” said Biesiadzinski.

    Researchers will also cover the outside of the bottom array, including all of the cables, with PTFE to maximize light collection there. Light recorded there by additional PMTs that are not part of the array, allow us to measure radioactive backgrounds that can contaminate the main detector.

    Keeping it “clean”

    In addition to being very specific, these PMTs are also ultra-clean.

    “By clean, we mean radio-pure,” said Briana Mount, director of the BHUC, where 338 of LZ’s PMTs have already been tested for radio-purity.

    The tiniest amounts of radioactive elements in the very materials used to construct LZ can also overwhelm the rare-event signal. Radioactive elements can be found in rocks, titanium—even human sweat. As these elements decay, they emit signals that quickly light up ultra-sensitive detectors. To lessen these misleading signatures, researchers assay, or test, their materials for radio-purity using low-background counters (LBCs).

    “Our PMTs are special made to have very low radioactivity so as to not overwhelm a very sensitive detector like LZ with background signal,” said Biesiadzinski.

    Testing the PMTs at the BHUC allows researchers to understand exactly how much of a remaining background they can expect to see from these materials during the experiment. Mount explained that most of the samples currently being assayed at the BHUC are LZ samples, including cable ties, wires, nuts and bolts.

    “We have assayed every component that will make up LZ,” said Kevin Lesko, senior physicist at Lawrence Berkeley National Lab (Berkeley Lab) and a spokesperson for LZ. “At this point we have performed over 1300 assays with another 800 assays planned. These have kept BHUC and the UK’s Boulby LBCs fully occupied for approximately 4 years. These assays permit us ensure no component contributes a major background to the detector and also allows us to assemble a model of the backgrounds for the entire detector before we turn on a single PMT.”

    For a visual description and breakdown of LZ’s design, watch this video created by SLAC.

    Fritz Zwicky discovered Dark Matter when observing the movement of the Coma Cluster.

    Fritz Zwicky from http:// palomarskies.blogspot.com

    Coma cluster via NASA/ESA Hubble

    But most of the real work was done by Vera Rubin a Woman in STEM

    Astronomer Vera Rubin at the Lowell Observatory in 1965, worked on Dark Matter (The Carnegie Institution for Science)


    Vera Rubin measuring spectra, worked on Dark Matter (Emilio Segre Visual Archives AIP SPL)


    Vera Rubin, with Department of Terrestrial Magnetism (DTM) image tube spectrograph attached to the Kitt Peak 84-inch telescope, 1970. https://home.dtm.ciw.edu

    See the full article here .


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    About us.
    The Sanford Underground Research Facility in Lead, South Dakota, advances our understanding of the universe by providing laboratory space deep underground, where sensitive physics experiments can be shielded from cosmic radiation. Researchers at the Sanford Lab explore some of the most challenging questions facing 21st century physics, such as the origin of matter, the nature of dark matter and the properties of neutrinos. The facility also hosts experiments in other disciplines—including geology, biology and engineering.

    The Sanford Lab is located at the former Homestake gold mine, which was a physics landmark long before being converted into a dedicated science facility. Nuclear chemist Ray Davis earned a share of the Nobel Prize for Physics in 2002 for a solar neutrino experiment he installed 4,850 feet underground in the mine.

    Homestake closed in 2003, but the company donated the property to South Dakota in 2006 for use as an underground laboratory. That same year, philanthropist T. Denny Sanford donated $70 million to the project. The South Dakota Legislature also created the South Dakota Science and Technology Authority to operate the lab. The state Legislature has committed more than $40 million in state funds to the project, and South Dakota also obtained a $10 million Community Development Block Grant to help rehabilitate the facility.

    In 2007, after the National Science Foundation named Homestake as the preferred site for a proposed national Deep Underground Science and Engineering Laboratory (DUSEL), the South Dakota Science and Technology Authority (SDSTA) began reopening the former gold mine.

    In December 2010, the National Science Board decided not to fund further design of DUSEL. However, in 2011 the Department of Energy, through the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, agreed to support ongoing science operations at Sanford Lab, while investigating how to use the underground research facility for other longer-term experiments. The SDSTA, which owns Sanford Lab, continues to operate the facility under that agreement with Berkeley Lab.

    The first two major physics experiments at the Sanford Lab are 4,850 feet underground in an area called the Davis Campus, named for the late Ray Davis. The Large Underground Xenon (LUX) experiment is housed in the same cavern excavated for Ray Davis’s experiment in the 1960s.
    LUX/Dark matter experiment at SURFLUX/Dark matter experiment at SURF

    In October 2013, after an initial run of 80 days, LUX was determined to be the most sensitive detector yet to search for dark matter—a mysterious, yet-to-be-detected substance thought to be the most prevalent matter in the universe. The Majorana Demonstrator experiment, also on the 4850 Level, is searching for a rare phenomenon called “neutrinoless double-beta decay” that could reveal whether subatomic particles called neutrinos can be their own antiparticle. Detection of neutrinoless double-beta decay could help determine why matter prevailed over antimatter. The Majorana Demonstrator experiment is adjacent to the original Davis cavern.

    LUX’s mission was to scour the universe for WIMPs, vetoing all other signatures. It would continue to do just that for another three years before it was decommissioned in 2016.

    In the midst of the excitement over first results, the LUX collaboration was already casting its gaze forward. Planning for a next-generation dark matter experiment at Sanford Lab was already under way. Named LUX-ZEPLIN (LZ), the next-generation experiment would increase the sensitivity of LUX 100 times.

    SLAC physicist Tom Shutt, a previous co-spokesperson for LUX, said one goal of the experiment was to figure out how to build an even larger detector.
    “LZ will be a thousand times more sensitive than the LUX detector,” Shutt said. “It will just begin to see an irreducible background of neutrinos that may ultimately set the limit to our ability to measure dark matter.”
    We celebrate five years of LUX, and look into the steps being taken toward the much larger and far more sensitive experiment.

    Another major experiment, the Long Baseline Neutrino Experiment (LBNE)—a collaboration with Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab) and Sanford Lab, is in the preliminary design stages. The project got a major boost last year when Congress approved and the president signed an Omnibus Appropriations bill that will fund LBNE operations through FY 2014. Called the “next frontier of particle physics,” LBNE will follow neutrinos as they travel 800 miles through the earth, from FermiLab in Batavia, Ill., to Sanford Lab.

    Fermilab LBNE
    LBNE

    U Washington Majorana Demonstrator Experiment at SURF

    The MAJORANA DEMONSTRATOR will contain 40 kg of germanium; up to 30 kg will be enriched to 86% in 76Ge. The DEMONSTRATOR will be deployed deep underground in an ultra-low-background shielded environment in the Sanford Underground Research Facility (SURF) in Lead, SD. The goal of the DEMONSTRATOR is to determine whether a future 1-tonne experiment can achieve a background goal of one count per tonne-year in a 4-keV region of interest around the 76Ge 0νββ Q-value at 2039 keV. MAJORANA plans to collaborate with GERDA for a future tonne-scale 76Ge 0νββ search.

    LBNL LZ project at SURF, Lead, SD, USA

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  • richardmitnick 9:27 am on November 12, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Generating electricity and cooling buildings, Physics, Revolutionizing energy-producing rooftop arrays, , What they weren’t able to test is whether the device also produced electricity. The upper layer in this experiment lacked the metal foil normally found in solar cells that would have blocked the inf   

    From Stanford University: “Stanford researchers develop a rooftop device that can make solar power and cool buildings” 

    Stanford University Name
    From Stanford University

    November 8, 2018
    Tom Abate, Stanford Engineering
    (650) 736-2245,
    tabate@stanford.edu

    1
    Professor Shanhui Fan and postdoctoral scholar Wei Li atop the Packard Electrical Engineering building with the apparatus that is proving the efficacy of a double-layered solar panel. The top layer uses the standard semiconductor materials that go into energy-harvesting solar cells; the novel materials on the bottom layer perform the cooling task. (Image credit: L.A. Cicero)

    Stanford electrical engineer Shanhui Fan wants to revolutionize energy-producing rooftop arrays.

    Today, such arrays do one thing – they turn sunlight into electricity. But Fan’s lab has built a device that could have a dual purpose – generating electricity and cooling buildings.

    “We’ve built the first device that one day could make energy and save energy, in the same place and at the same time, by controlling two very different properties of light,” said Fan, senior author of an article appearing Nov. 8 in Joule.

    The sun-facing layer of the device is nothing new. It’s made of the same semiconductor materials that have long adorned rooftops to convert visible light into electricity. The novelty lies in the device’s bottom layer, which is based on materials that can beam heat away from the roof and into space through a process known as radiative cooling.

    In radiative cooling, objects – including our own bodies – shed heat by radiating infrared light. That’s the invisible light night-vision goggles detect. Normally this form of cooling doesn’t work well for something like a building because Earth’s atmosphere acts like a thick blanket and traps the majority of the heat near the building rather allowing it to escape, ultimately into the vast coldness of space.

    Holes in the blanket

    Fan’s cooling technology takes advantage of the fact that this thick atmospheric blanket essentially has holes in it that allow a particular wavelength of infrared light to pass directly into space. In previous work, Fan had developed materials that can convert heat radiating off a building into the particular infrared wavelength that can pass directly through the atmosphere. These materials release heat into space and could save energy that would have been needed to air-condition a building’s interior. That same material is what Fan placed under the standard solar layer in his new device.

    Zhen Chen, who led the experiments as a postdoctoral scholar in Fan’s lab, said the researchers built a prototype about the diameter of a pie plate and mounted their device on the rooftop of a Stanford building. Then they compared the temperature of the ambient air on the rooftop with the temperatures of the top and bottom layers of the device. The top layer device was hotter than the rooftop air, which made sense because it was absorbing sunlight. But, as the researchers hoped, the bottom layer of the device was significant cooler than the air on the rooftop.

    “This shows that heat radiated up from the bottom, through the top layer and into space,” said Chen, who is now a professor at the Southeast University of China.

    What they weren’t able to test is whether the device also produced electricity. The upper layer in this experiment lacked the metal foil, normally found in solar cells, that would have blocked the infrared light from escaping. The team is now designing solar cells that work without metal liners to couple with the radiative cooling layer.

    “We think we can build a practical device that does both things,” Fan said.

    Shanhui Fan is the director of the Edward L. Ginzton Laboratory, a professor of electrical engineering, a senior fellow at the Precourt Institute for Energy and a professor, by courtesy, of applied physics. Postdoctoral scholars Wei Li of Stanford and Linxiao Zhu of the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, also co-authored the paper.

    The research was supported by the Stanford University Global Climate and Energy Project, the National Science Foundation and the National Natural Science Foundation of China.

    See the full article here .


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    Stanford University campus. No image credit

    Stanford University

    Leland and Jane Stanford founded the University to “promote the public welfare by exercising an influence on behalf of humanity and civilization.” Stanford opened its doors in 1891, and more than a century later, it remains dedicated to finding solutions to the great challenges of the day and to preparing our students for leadership in today’s complex world. Stanford, is an American private research university located in Stanford, California on an 8,180-acre (3,310 ha) campus near Palo Alto. Since 1952, more than 54 Stanford faculty, staff, and alumni have won the Nobel Prize, including 19 current faculty members

    Stanford University Seal

     
  • richardmitnick 11:39 am on November 7, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Acoustic phonons, , , , Dancing atoms in perovskite materials provide insight into how solar cells work, , Physics, ,   

    From SLAC National Accelerator Lab: “Dancing atoms in perovskite materials provide insight into how solar cells work” 

    From SLAC National Accelerator Lab

    November 6, 2018
    Ali Sundermier

    1
    When the researchers scattered neutrons off the perovskite material (red beam) they were able to measure the energy the neutrons lost or gained (white and blue lines). Using this information, they were able to see the structure and motion of the atoms and molecules within the material (arrangement of blue and purple spheres). (Greg Stewart/SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory)

    A new study is a step forward in understanding why perovskite materials work so well in energy devices and potentially leads the way toward a theorized “hot” technology that would significantly improve the efficiency of today’s solar cells.

    A closer look at materials that make up conventional solar cells reveals a nearly rigid arrangement of atoms with little movement. But in hybrid perovskites, a promising class of solar cell materials, the arrangements are more flexible and atoms dance wildly around, an effect that impacts the performance of the solar cells but has been difficult to measure.

    In a paper published in the PNAS, an international team of researchers led by the U.S. Department of Energy’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory has developed a new understanding of those wild dances and how they affect the functioning of perovskite materials. The results could explain why perovskite solar cells are so efficient and aid the quest to design hot-carrier solar cells, a theorized technology that would almost double the efficiency limits of conventional solar cells by converting more sunlight into usable electrical energy.

    Piece of the puzzle

    Perovskite solar cells, which can be produced at room temperature, offer a less expensive and potentially better performing alternative to conventional solar cell materials like silicon, which have to be manufactured at extremely high temperatures to eliminate defects. But a lack of understanding about what makes perovskite materials so efficient at converting sunlight into electricity has been a major hurdle to producing even higher efficiency perovskite solar cells.

    “It’s really only been over the last five or six years that people have developed this intense interest in solar perovskite materials,” says Mike Toney, a distinguished staff scientist at SLAC’s Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Light Source (SSRL) who led the study.

    SLAC/SSRL

    “As a consequence, a lot of the foundational knowledge about what makes the materials work is missing. In this research, we provided an important piece of this puzzle by showing what sets them apart from more conventional solar cell materials. This provides us with scientific underpinnings that will allow us to start engineering these materials in a rational way.”

    Keeping it hot

    When sunlight hits a solar cell, some of the energy can be used to kick electrons in the material up to higher energy states. These higher-energy electrons are funneled out of the material, producing electricity.

    But before this happens, a majority of the sun’s energy is lost to heat with some fraction also lost during the extraction of usable energy or due to inefficient light collection. In many conventional solar cells, such as those made with silicon, acoustic phonons – a sort of sound wave that propagates through material – are the primary way that this heat is carried through the material. The energy lost by the electron as heat limits the efficiency of the solar cell.

    In this study, theorists from the United Kingdom, led by Imperial College Professor Aron Walsh and electronic structure theorists Jonathan Skelton and Jarvist Frost, provided a theoretical framework for interpreting the experimental results. They predicted that acoustic phonons traveling through perovskites would have short lifetimes as a result of the flexible arrangements of dancing atoms and molecules in the material.

    Stanford chemists Hema Karunadasa and Ian Smith were able to grow the large, specialized single crystals that were essential for this work. With the help of Peter Gehring, a physicist at the NIST Center for Neutron Research, the team scattered neutrons off these perovskite single crystals in a way that allowed them to retrace the motion of the atoms and molecules within the material. This allowed them to precisely measure the lifetime of the acoustic phonons.

    The research team found that in perovskites, acoustic phonons are incredibly short-lived, surviving for only 10 to 20 trillionths of a second. Without these phonons trucking heat through the material, the electrons might stay hot and hold onto their energy as they’re pulled out of the material. Harnessing this effect could potentially lead to hot-carrier solar cells with efficiencies that are nearly twice as high as conventional solar cells.

    In addition, this phenomenon could explain how perovskite solar cells work so well despite the material being riddled with defects that would trap electrons and dampen performance in other materials.

    “Since phonons in perovskites don’t travel very far, they end up heating the area surrounding the electrons, which might provide the boost the electrons need to escape the traps and continue on their merry way,” Toney says.

    Transforming energy production

    To follow up on this study, researchers at the Center for Hybrid Organic-Inorganic Semiconductors for Energy (CHOISE) Energy Frontier Research Center led by DOE’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory will investigate this phenomenon in more complicated perovskite materials that are shown to be more efficient in energy devices. They would like to figure out how changing the chemical make-up of the material affects acoustic phonon lifetimes.

    “We need to fundamentally transform our energy system as quickly as possible,” says Aryeh Gold-Parker, who co-led the study as a PhD student at Stanford University and SLAC. “As we move toward a low-carbon future, a very important piece is having cheap and efficient solar cells. The hope in perovskites is that they’ll lead to commercial solar panels that are more efficient and cheaper than the ones on the market today.”

    The research team also included scientists from NIST; the University of Bath and Kings College London, both in the UK; and Yonsei University in Korea.

    SSRL is a DOE Office of Science user facility. This work was supported by the DOE’s Office of Science and the Solar Energy Technologies Office; the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council; the Royal Society; and the Leverhulme Trust.

    See the full article here .


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    SLAC Campus
    SLAC is a multi-program laboratory exploring frontier questions in photon science, astrophysics, particle physics and accelerator research. Located in Menlo Park, California, SLAC is operated by Stanford University for the DOE’s Office of Science.

     
  • richardmitnick 4:55 pm on November 5, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Physicists measured Earth’s mass using neutrinos for the first time, Physics,   

    From Science News: “Physicists measured Earth’s mass using neutrinos for the first time” 

    From Science News

    November 5, 2018
    Emily Conover

    The tiny particles provide an independent test of some of the planet’s key properties.

    1
    PARTICLE PROBES Subatomic particles called neutrinos are created when spacefaring protons and other particles smash into Earth’s atmosphere (illustrated). Scientists have now used neutrinos to measure the Earth’s mass and the densities of its layers. Earth: Reto Stöckli, Nazmi El Saleous and Marit Jentoft-Nilsen/GSFC/NASA, adapted by E. Otwell

    Puny particles have given scientists a glimpse inside the Earth.

    For the first time, physicists have measured the planet’s mass using neutrinos, minuscule subatomic particles that can pass straight through the entire planet. Researchers also used the particles to probe the Earth’s innards, studying how the planet’s density varies from crust to core.

    Typically, scientists determine Earth’s mass and density by quantifying the planet’s gravitational pull and by studying seismic waves that penetrate the globe. Neutrinos provide a completely independent test of the planet’s properties. Made using data from the IceCube neutrino observatory at the South Pole, the new planetary profile agreed with traditional measurements, a trio of physicists reports November 5 in Nature Physics.

    U Wisconsin IceCube neutrino observatory

    U Wisconsin IceCube experiment at the South Pole



    U Wisconsin ICECUBE neutrino detector at the South Pole


    IceCube Gen-2 DeepCore PINGU


    IceCube reveals interesting high-energy neutrino events

    To make the measurement, the scientists studied high-energy neutrinos that were produced when protons and other energetic particles from space slammed into the Earth’s atmosphere. These neutrinos can zip clean through the entire Earth, but sometimes they smash into atomic nuclei and are absorbed instead. How often neutrinos get stopped in their tracks reveals the density of the stuff they’re traveling through.

    Neutrinos that arrived at the IceCube detector from different angles probed different layers of the Earth. For example, a neutrino coming from the opposite side of the planet, at the North Pole, would pass through the Earth’s crust, mantle and core before reaching the South Pole. But one that skimmed in at an angle might pass through only the crust. By measuring how many neutrinos came from various angles, the team inferred the densities of different parts of the Earth and its total mass.

    The technique doesn’t yet reveal anything new about the planet. But one day it might help scientists determine whether all of Earth’s mass comes from normal matter. Perhaps some of the mass is due to something that shuns neutrinos, such as a type of dark matter, a shadowy substance that scientists believe must exist to account for missing mass observed in measurements of other galaxies. Neutrinos could help physicists nail down whether the Earth harbors such dark matter within.

    See the full article here .


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  • richardmitnick 2:28 pm on November 3, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: A new measurement bolsters the case for a (slightly) smaller proton, , , Physics, Proton size,   

    From Science News: “A new measurement bolsters the case for a (slightly) smaller proton” 

    From Science News

    November 2, 2018
    Emily Conover

    The PRad physics experiment studies how electrons scatter off of protons.

    1
    EXTRA SMALL Protons are small, but scientists disagree on exactly how small. A new finding from the PRad physics experiment suggests that the subatomic particle is extra tiny.
    pixelparticle/Shutterstock

    A scientific tug-of-war is underway over the size of the proton. Scientists can’t agree on how big the subatomic particle is, but a new measurement has just issued a forceful yank in favor of a smaller proton.

    By studying how electrons scatter off of protons, scientists with the PRad experiment [APS Bulleton] at Jefferson Laboratory in Newport News, Va., sized up the proton’s radius at a measly 0.83 femtometers, or millionths of a billionth of a meter. That’s about 5 percent smaller than the currently accepted radius, about 0.88 femtometers.

    The new figure adds to a muddle of measurements, each of which seems to fall into one of two camps — favoring either the standard radius or one a tad smaller. With the new result from PRad, “if anything, the proton radius puzzle has become even more puzzling,” says physicist Nilanga Liyanage of the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. He presented the result on October 23 at a joint meeting of the American Physical Society Division of Nuclear Physics and the Physical Society of Japan, held in Waikoloa, Hawaii.

    The experiment, in which electrons scatter off of the protons contained in hydrogen gas, improves upon previous electron-proton scattering experiments by catching electrons that scatter away at glancing angles, as small as 0.6 degrees. Such electrons help suss out the protons’ size by probing the outermost edges of the protons.

    2
    LET’S BOUNCE The PRad experiment (shown) works by bouncing electrons off of protons. The angles at which the electrons scatter away tell scientists how big the proton is. PRad Collaboration

    PRad’s small radius is in conflict with previous electron-proton scattering measurements as well as some hydrogen-radius measurements made using different techniques. However, the result is still preliminary, the researchers caution. Additional work is needed before the finding is submitted to a scientific journal and its merits judged by other researchers.

    “It’s a great result; it’s a hard experiment,” says physicist Jan Bernauer of Stony Brook University in New York, who worked on an earlier electron-proton scattering measurement by a team of scientists called the A1 collaboration. Still, he says, “it’s a little bit early to say anything” about the proton’s true size.

    In addition to electron-proton scattering, scientists use two other techniques to gauge the proton’s girth. One method, called hydrogen spectroscopy, uses lasers to study the energy levels of the hydrogen atom. Since each hydrogen atom is composed of a single proton and a single electron, the atoms’ energy levels depend on how large the proton is. Another technique, introduced in 2010, is similar to hydrogen spectroscopy, but the hydrogen atoms’ electrons are swapped for a heavier electron relative, called a muon.

    That switcheroo is what kicked off the whole kerfuffle over the proton’s size in the first place. The first such measurement, published in Nature in 2010, came up with an unexpectedly slim proton (SN: 7/31/10, p. 7). But the plot thickened further that year when the A1 electron-proton scattering measurement [Physical Review Letters]found a larger radius, in agreement with older measurements (SN Online: 12/17/10).

    Meanwhile, new spectroscopy measurements — made with normal hydrogen — are also in a jumble. One such measurement, published in 2017 in Science, found a small radius (SN: 11/11/17, p. 14). The same goes for another study reported in July at the International Conference on Atomic Physics in Barcelona. But a large proton radius was found in a study published in May in Physical Review Letters.

    The proton’s radius is an important property of nature. And the confusion about its size is preventing scientists from performing other experiments, such as testing the theory of quantum electrodynamics, which describes how light and charged particles behave.

    At first, the proton radius woes had scientists excited that the discrepancy might reveal the existence of new particles or other secrets of physics. But such explanations now seem not to work, says physicist Marko Horbatsch of York University in Toronto.

    Future experiments could help resolve the disagreement, including the upcoming MUSE experiment, under construction at the Paul Scherrer Institute in Switzerland, which will scatter muons off of protons. But for now, the debate continues. “Science is not as hard and exact as you would want to make people believe,” Horbatsch says.

    See the full article here .


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  • richardmitnick 8:42 am on November 2, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , CERN ALPHA-g, , , , Physics   

    From CERN: “New antimatter gravity experiments begin at CERN” 

    Cern New Bloc

    Cern New Particle Event

    CERN New Masthead

    From CERN

    2 Nov 2018
    Ana Lopes

    CERN ALPHA-g experiment being installed at CERN_s Antiproton Decelerator hall. (Image CERN)

    CERN ALPHA-g Detector

    We learn it at high school: Release two objects of different mass in the absence of friction forces and they fall down at the same rate in Earth’s gravity. What we haven’t learned, because it hasn’t been directly measured in experiments, is whether antimatter falls down at the same rate as ordinary matter or if it might behave differently. Two new experiments at CERN, ALPHA-g and GBAR, have now started their journey towards answering this question.


    CERN GBAR

    ALPHA-g is very similar to the ALPHA experiment [below], which makes neutral antihydrogen atoms by taking antiprotons from the Antiproton Decelerator (AD) and binding them with positrons from a sodium-22 source. ALPHA then confines the resulting neutral antihydrogen atoms in a magnetic trap and shines laser light or microwaves onto them to measure their internal structure. The ALPHA-g experiment has the same type of antiatom making and trapping apparatus except that it is oriented vertically. With this vertical set-up, researchers can measure precisely the vertical positions at which the antihydrogen atoms annihilate with normal matter once they switch off the trap’s magnetic field and the atoms are under the sole influence of gravity. The values of these positions will allow them to measure the effect of gravity on the antiatoms.

    The GBAR experiment, also located in the AD hall, takes a different tack. It plans to use antiprotons supplied by the ELENA deceleration ring and positrons produced by a small linear accelerator to make antihydrogen ions, consisting of one antiproton and two positrons. Next, after trapping the antihydrogen ions and chilling them to an ultralow temperature (about 10 microkelvin), it will use laser light to strip them of one positron, turning them into neutral antiatoms. At this point, the neutral antiatoms will be released from the trap and allowed to fall from a height of 20 centimetres, during which the researchers will monitor their behaviour.

    After months of round-the-clock work by researchers and engineers to put together the experiments, ALPHA-g and GBAR have received the first beams of antiprotons, marking the beginning of both experiments. ALPHA-g began taking beam on 30 October, after receiving the necessary safety approvals. ELENA sent its first beam to GBAR on 20 July, and since then the decelerator and GBAR researchers have been trying to perfect the delivery of the beam. The ALPHA-g and GBAR teams are now racing to commission their experiments before CERN’s accelerators shut down in a few weeks for a two-year period of maintenance work. Jeffrey Hangst, spokesperson of the ALPHA experiments, says: “We are hoping that we’ll get the chance to make the first gravity measurements with antimatter, but it’s a race against time.” Patrice Pérez, spokesperson of GBAR, says: “The GBAR experiment is using an entirely new apparatus and an antiproton beam still in its commissioning phase. We hope to produce antihydrogen this year and are working towards being ready to measure the gravitational effects on antimatter when the antiprotons are back in 2021.”

    Another experiment at the AD hall, AEgIS, which has been in operation for several years, is also working towards measuring the effect of gravity on antihydrogen using yet another approach. Like GBAR, AEgIS [below] is also hoping to produce its first antihydrogen atoms this year.

    Discovering any difference between the behaviour of antimatter and matter in connection with gravity could point to a quantum theory of gravity and perhaps cast light on why the universe seems to be made of matter rather than antimatter.

    See the full article here.


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings
    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Meet CERN in a variety of places:

    Quantum Diaries
    QuantumDiaries

    Cern Courier

    THE FOUR MAJOR PROJECT COLLABORATIONS

    ATLAS
    CERN ATLAS New
    ALICE

    CERN/ALICE Detector


    CMS
    CERN CMS New

    LHCb
    CERN LHCb New II

    LHC

    CERN map

    CERN LHC Grand Tunnel

    CERN LHC particles

    OTHER PROJECTS AT CERN

    CERN AEGIS

    CERN ALPHA

    CERN ALPHA

    CERN AMS

    CERN ACACUSA

    CERN ASACUSA

    CERN ATRAP

    CERN ATRAP

    CERN AWAKE

    CERN AWAKE

    CERN CAST

    CERN CAST Axion Solar Telescope

    CERN CLOUD

    CERN CLOUD

    CERN COMPASS

    CERN COMPASS

    CERN DIRAC

    CERN DIRAC

    CERN GBAR

    CERN GBAR

    CERN ISOLDE

    CERN ISOLDE

    CERN LHCf

    CERN LHCf

    CERN NA62

    CERN NA62

    CERN NTOF

    CERN TOTEM

    CERN UA9

    CERN Proto Dune

    CERN Proto Dune

     
  • richardmitnick 8:08 am on November 2, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Antimatter particles, “Majorana” particles: particles that are indistinguishable from their antimatter counterparts, , , , , , , Physics   

    From CERN: “Chasing a particle that is its own antiparticle” 

    Cern New Bloc

    Cern New Particle Event

    CERN New Masthead

    From CERN

    1 Nov 2018
    Ana Lopes

    1
    The ATLAS experiment at CERN. (Image: Maximilien Brice/CERN)

    Neutrinos weigh almost nothing: you need at least 250 000 of them to outweigh a single electron. But what if their lightness could be explained by a mechanism that needs neutrinos to be their own antiparticles? The ATLAS collaboration at CERN is looking into this, using data from high-energy proton collisions collected at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC).

    One way to explain neutrinos’ extreme lightness is the so-called seesaw mechanism, a popular extension of the Standard Model of particle physics.

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


    Standard Model of Particle Physics from Symmetry Magazine

    This mechanism involves pairing up the known light neutrinos with hypothetical heavy neutrinos. The heavier neutrino plays the part of a larger child on a seesaw, lifting the lighter neutrino to give it a small mass. But for this mechanism to work, both neutrinos need to be “Majorana” particles: particles that are indistinguishable from their antimatter counterparts.

    Antimatter particles have the same mass as their corresponding matter particles but have the opposite electric charge. So, for example, an electron has a negative electric charge and its antiparticle, the positron, is positive. But neutrinos have no electric charge, opening up the possibility that they could be their own antiparticles. Finding heavy Majorana neutrinos could not only help explain neutrino mass, it could also lead to a better understanding of why matter is much more abundant in the universe than antimatter.

    In an extended form of the seesaw model, these heavy Majorana neutrinos could potentially be light enough to be detected in LHC data. In a new paper, the ATLAS collaboration describes the results of its latest search for hints of these particles.

    ATLAS looked for instances in which both a heavy Majorana neutrino and a “right-handed” W boson, another hypothetical particle, could appear. They used LHC data from collision events that produce two “jets” of particles plus a pair of energetic electrons or a pair of their heavier cousins, muons.

    The researchers compared the observed number of such events with the number predicted by the Standard Model. They found no significant excess of events over the Standard Model expectation, indicating that no right-handed W bosons and heavy Majorana neutrinos took part in these collisions.

    However, the researchers were able to use their observations to excludepossible masses for these two particles. They excluded heavy Majorana neutrino masses up to about 3 TeV, for a right-handed W boson with a mass of 4.3 TeV. In addition, they explored for the first time the hypothesis that the Majorana neutrino is heavier than the right-handed W boson, placing a lower limit of 1.5 TeV on the mass of Majorana neutrinos. Further studies should be able to put tighter limits on the mass of heavy Majorana neutrinos in the hope of finding them – if, indeed, they exist.

    See the full article here.


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings
    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Meet CERN in a variety of places:

    Quantum Diaries
    QuantumDiaries

    Cern Courier

    THE FOUR MAJOR PROJECT COLLABORATIONS

    ATLAS
    CERN ATLAS New
    ALICE

    CERN/ALICE Detector


    CMS
    CERN CMS New

    LHCb
    CERN LHCb New II

    LHC

    CERN map

    CERN LHC Grand Tunnel

    CERN LHC particles

    OTHER PROJECTS AT CERN

    CERN AEGIS

    CERN ALPHA

    CERN ALPHA

    CERN AMS

    CERN ACACUSA

    CERN ASACUSA

    CERN ATRAP

    CERN ATRAP

    CERN AWAKE

    CERN AWAKE

    CERN CAST

    CERN CAST Axion Solar Telescope

    CERN CLOUD

    CERN CLOUD

    CERN COMPASS

    CERN COMPASS

    CERN DIRAC

    CERN DIRAC

    CERN ISOLDE

    CERN ISOLDE

    CERN LHCf

    CERN LHCf

    CERN NA62

    CERN NA62

    CERN NTOF

    CERN TOTEM

    CERN UA9

    CERN Proto Dune

    CERN Proto Dune

     
  • richardmitnick 12:30 pm on November 1, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , Physics, , Tantalising 'Bumps' in Large Hadron Collider Data   

    From Science Alert: “CERN’s About to Release Details on Tantalising ‘Bumps’ in Large Hadron Collider Data” 

    ScienceAlert

    From Science Alert

    1 NOV 2018
    MICHELLE STARR

    Strap yourselves in, because CERN has something up its sleeve.

    On Thursday 1 November, Large Hadron Collider (LHC) physicists will be discussing the fact that they may have found a new and unexpected new particle.

    “I’d say theorists are excited and experimentalists are very sceptical,” CERN physicist Alexandre Nikitenko told The Guardian. “As a physicist I must be very critical, but as the author of this analysis I must have some optimism too.”

    The telltale signal is a bump in the data collected by the LHC’s Compact Muon Solenoid (CMS) detector as the researchers were smashing together particles to look for something else entirely.

    CERN/CMS Detector

    When heavy particles – such as the Higgs Boson – are produced through particle collisions, they decay almost immediately. This produces a shower of smaller mass particles, as well as increased momentum, which can be picked up by the LHC’s detectors.

    CERN CMS Higgs Event


    CERN ATLAS Higgs Event

    When these particle showers produced pairs of muons (a type of elementary particle that is similar to an electron but with a much higher mass), the team sat up and paid attention. But what they traced these pairs back to was, to be very scientific about it, mega weird.

    The new and unknown particle that seems to have produced the muons has a mass of around 28 GeV (giga-electronvolts), just over a fifth of the mass of the Higgs boson (125 GeV).

    There’s nothing in any of the current models that predicts this mass.

    It’s unlikely to be physics-breaking, sorry to disappoint. But it is strange – a mass that has formed where no mass was expected.

    A word of caution, though: it’s too early to get excited.

    The signal could just be a glitch in the data, generated from random noise, which ended up being the case with what had been a tremendously exciting 750 GeV signal in 2016 – until it was found to be just a statistical fluctuation.

    Until this data has been checked against newer CMS data, as well as data from the ATLAS detector, the discovery remains unconfirmed.

    CERN/ATLAS detector

    Still, an anomalous detection is always interesting – so we’ll be tuning in tomorrow to see what the research team has to say when they give their talk.

    You can also check out their paper – which has yet to be peer-reviewed – on pre-print resource arXiv.

    See the full article here .


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

     
  • richardmitnick 10:37 am on November 1, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Physics, , ,   

    From SLAC National Accelerator Lab: “Scientists make first detailed measurements of key factors related to high-temperature superconductivity” 

    From SLAC National Accelerator Lab

    October 31, 2018
    Glennda Chui

    1
    A new study reveals how coordinated motions of copper (red) and oxygen (grey) atoms in a high-temperature superconductor boost the superconducting strength of pairs of electrons (white glow), allowing the material to conduct electricity without any loss at much higher temperatures. The discovery opens a new path to engineering higher-temperature superconductors. (Greg Stewart/SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory)

    2
    An illustration depicts the repulsive energy (yellow flashes) generated by electrons in one layer of a cuprate material repelling electrons in the next layer. Theorists think this energy could play a critical role in creating the superconducting state, leading electrons to form a distinctive form of “sound wave” that could boost superconducting temperatures. Scientists have now observed and measured those sound waves for the first time. (Greg Stewart/SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory)

    In superconducting materials, electrons pair up and condense into a quantum state that carries electrical current with no loss. This usually happens at very low temperatures. Scientists have mounted an all-out effort to develop new types of superconductors that work at close to room temperature, which would save huge amounts of energy and open a new route for designing quantum electronics. To get there, they need to figure out what triggers this high-temperature form of superconductivity and how to make it happen on demand.

    Now, in independent studies reported in Science and Nature, scientists from the Department of Energy’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory and Stanford University report two important advances: They measured collective vibrations of electrons for the first time and showed how collective interactions of the electrons with other factors appear to boost superconductivity.

    Carried out with different copper-based materials and with different cutting-edge techniques, the experiments lay out new approaches for investigating how unconventional superconductors operate.

    “Basically, what we’re trying to do is understand what makes a good superconductor,” said co-author Thomas Devereaux, a professor at SLAC and Stanford and director of SIMES, the Stanford Institute for Materials and Energy Sciences, whose investigators led both studies.

    “What are the ingredients that could give rise to superconductivity at temperatures well above what they are today?” he said. “These and other recent studies indicate that the atomic lattice plays an important role, giving us hope that we are gaining ground in answering that question.”

    The high-temperature puzzle

    Conventional superconductors were discovered in 1911, and scientists know how they work: Free-floating electrons are attracted to a material’s lattice of atoms, which has a positive charge, in a way that lets them pair up and flow as electric current with 100 percent efficiency. Today, superconducting technology is used in MRI machines, maglev trains and particle accelerators.

    But these superconductors work only when chilled to temperatures as cold as outer space. So when scientists discovered in 1986 that a family of copper-based materials known as cuprates can superconduct at much higher, although still quite chilly, temperatures, they were elated.

    The operating temperature of cuprates has been inching up ever since – the current record is about 120 degrees Celsius below the freezing point of water – as scientists explore a number of factors that could either boost or interfere with their superconductivity. But there’s still no consensus about how the cuprates function.

    “The key question is how can we make all these electrons, which very much behave as individuals and do not want to cooperate with others, condense into a collective state where all the parties participate and give rise to this remarkable collective behavior?” said Zhi-Xun Shen, a SLAC/Stanford professor and SIMES investigator who participated in both studies.

    Behind-the-scenes boost

    One of the new studies, at SLAC’s Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Lightsource (SSRL), took a systematic look at how “doping” – adding a chemical that changes the density of electrons in a material – affects the superconductivity and other properties of a cuprate called Bi2212.

    SLAC/SSRL


    SLAC/SSRL

    Collaborating researchers at the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST) in Japan prepared samples of the material with slightly different levels of doping. Then a team led by SIMES researcher Yu He and SSRL staff scientist Makoto Hashimoto examined the samples at SSRL with angle-resolved photoemission spectroscopy, or ARPES. It uses a powerful beam of X-ray light to kick individual electrons out of a sample material so their momentum and energy can be measured. This reveals what the electrons in the material are doing.

    In this case, as the level of doping increased, the maximum superconducting temperature of the material peaked and fell off again, He said.

    The team focused in on samples with particularly robust superconducting properties. They discovered that three interwoven effects – interactions of electrons with each other, with lattice vibrations and with superconductivity itself – reinforce each other in a positive feedback loop when conditions are right, boosting superconductivity and raising the superconducting temperature of the material.

    Small changes in doping produced big changes in superconductivity and in the electrons’ interaction with lattice vibrations, Devereaux said. The next step is to figure out why this particular level of doping is so important.

    “One popular theory has been that rather than the atomic lattice being the source of the electron pairing, as in conventional superconductors, the electrons in high-temperature superconductors form some kind of conspiracy by themselves. This is called electronic correlation,” Yu He said. “For instance, if you had a room full of electrons, they would spread out. But if some of them demand more individual space, others will have to squeeze closer to accommodate them.”

    In this study, He said, “What we find is that the lattice has a behind-the-scenes role after all, and we may have overlooked an important ingredient for high-temperature superconductivity for the past three decades,” a conclusion that ties into the results of earlier research by the SIMES group Science.

    Electron ‘Sound Waves’

    The other study, performed at the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF) in France, used a technique called resonant inelastic X-ray scattering, or RIXS, to observe the collective behavior of electrons in layered cuprates known as LCCO and NCCO.


    ESRF. Grenoble, France

    RIXS excites electrons deep inside atoms with X-rays, and then measures the light they give off as they settle back down into their original spots.

    In the past, most studies have focused only on the behavior of electrons within a single layer of cuprate material, where electrons are known to be much more mobile than they are between layers, said SIMES staff scientist Wei-Sheng Lee. He led the study with Matthias Hepting, who is now at the Max Planck Institute for Solid State Research in Germany.

    But in this case, the team wanted to test an idea raised by theorists – that the energy generated by electrons in one layer repelling electrons in the next one plays a critical role in forming the superconducting state.

    When excited by light, this repulsion energy leads electrons to form a distinctive sound wave known as an acoustic plasmon, which theorists predict could account for as much as 20 percent of the increase in superconducting temperature seen in cuprates.

    With the latest in RIXS technology, the SIMES team was able to observe and measure those acoustic plasmons.

    “Here we see for the first time how acoustic plasmons propagate through the whole lattice,” Lee said. “While this doesn’t settle the question of where the energy needed to form the superconducting state comes from, it does tell us that the layered structure itself affects how the electrons behave in a very profound way.”

    This observation sets the stage for future studies that manipulate the sound waves with light, for instance, in a way that enhances superconductivity, Lee said. The results are also relevant for developing future plasmonic technology, he said, with a range of applications from sensors to photonic and electronic devices for communications.

    SSRL is a DOE Office of Science user facility, and SIMES is a joint institute of SLAC and Stanford.

    In addition to researchers from SLAC, Stanford and AIST, the study carried out at SSRL involved scientists from University of Tokyo; University of California, Berkeley; and Lorentz Institute for Theoretical Physics in the Netherlands.

    The study conducted at ESRF also involved researchers from SSRL; Polytechnic University of Milan in Italy; ESRF; Binghamton University in New York; and the University of Maryland.

    Both studies were funded by the DOE Office of Science.

    See the full article here .


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings
    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    SLAC Campus
    SLAC is a multi-program laboratory exploring frontier questions in photon science, astrophysics, particle physics and accelerator research. Located in Menlo Park, California, SLAC is operated by Stanford University for the DOE’s Office of Science.

     
  • richardmitnick 9:55 am on October 31, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: a snag, , Beyond the standard model, , , Physics   

    From Harvard Gazette: “Beyond the standard model, a snag” 

    Harvard University
    Harvard University


    From Harvard Gazette

    Electrons, up really close

    1
    Physics Professor John Doyle works in Lyman Lab. Kris Snibbe/Harvard Staff Photographer

    Team makes most precise measure ever of their charge.

    Electrons are almost unimaginably small, but their tiny size doesn’t mean they can’t be used to poke holes in theories of how the universe works.

    Working in a basement lab at Harvard, a group of researchers led by John Doyle, the Henry B. Silsbee Professor of Physics, has been part of a team to make the most precise measurement ever of the shape of the field around an electron, and the results suggest that some theories for what lies beyond the standard model of physics need to return to the drawing board. The study is described in a recently published paper in the journal Nature.

    The team included groups led by David DeMille from Yale University and Gerald Gabrielse from Northwestern University.

    “This measurement is an order of magnitude better than the last best measurement, which we had also made,” Doyle said. “What this means is these theories of what is beyond the standard model, they may have to be revised.”

    The findings are the latest to emerge from the Advanced Cold Molecule Electron Electric Dipole Moment (ACME) Search, a decade-long project hunting for evidence of exotic particles that fall outside of the standard model. A description of how the basic building blocks of matter interact with a handful of fundamental forces, the standard model is the key theory of particle physics, Doyle said, but it’s also incomplete.

    “There are at least two fundamental observations we can make that are not explained by the standard model,” Doyle said. “One is the matter-antimatter asymmetry in the universe. The universe started off as a very small, hot place, where matter and antimatter were balanced. But as the universe expanded and cooled, at some point matter was favored, and that’s the normal stuff we see now in the universe — stars, the earth, the sky, etc. There is a general theory about how that took place, and that theory requires a property called ‘time reversal violation’ (which states that microscopic physics can tell which way time is flowing) … but the standard model does not have enough.”

    “Dark matter is also not explained by the standard model,” he continued. “We can see dark matter based on how the direction of light is changed as it passes through galaxies. And based on the rotation frequencies of galaxy discs, we know there must be some other matter there, but we don’t know what it is.”

    Women in STEM – Vera Rubin
    Fritz Zwicky discovered Dark Matter when observing the movement of the Coma Cluster

    Coma cluster via NASA/ESA Hubble

    But most of the real work was done by Vera Rubin

    Fritz Zwicky from http:// palomarskies.blogspot.com


    Astronomer Vera Rubin at the Lowell Observatory in 1965, worked on Dark Matter (The Carnegie Institution for Science)


    Vera Rubin measuring spectra, worked on Dark Matter (Emilio Segre Visual Archives AIP SPL)


    Vera Rubin, with Department of Terrestrial Magnetism (DTM) image tube spectrograph attached to the Kitt Peak 84-inch telescope, 1970. https://home.dtm.ciw.edu

    While scientists have advanced a number of theories that would address the gaps in the standard model, Doyle said, it remains unclear which — if any — may be supported by the scientific evidence.

    “There are fairly generic theories that predict new particles, and with them predict enough ‘time reversal violation’ to describe the matter-antimatter asymmetry,” Doyle said. “In addition, some of these predicted particles are thought of as dark matter candidates.” Though massive facilities like the Large Hadron Collider are taking part in the search for those particles, Doyle and colleagues have been leaders in that hunt, and are doing it using a device that is the size of a large office.

    What the ACME team is searching for, Doyle said, is something called the “electron dipole moment,” a telltale sign that the field surrounding the electron is spontaneously transforming into new, predicted particles.

    “The electron is just a point particle, but the electrical field around it contains energy … which can spontaneously turn into a particle for a short time, including these beyond-the-standard-model particles,” Doyle said. “So there is a dance that goes on constantly, where the field is being converted into a particle, which decays back into the field.

    “The trick is observing the effect of the process,” he said. “We refer to these particles as being ‘virtually created’ particles, and the theory is that because of them, the electron will actually look somewhat like a molecule, with a small positive charge on one end and a negative charge on the other.”

    The result is an electron with a field that is not perfectly spherical, but slightly squashed. It’s that slight deformation that Doyle and colleagues were trying to find.

    The device they used to do so works by firing a beam of cold thorium-oxide molecules into a relatively small chamber, where lasers select specific quantum states, orienting the molecules and their electrons as they pass between two charged glass plates inside a carefully controlled magnetic field.

    Another set of “readout” lasers targets the molecules as they emerge from the chamber, causing them to emit light. By monitoring that light, the team can identify whether the electrons twist or tumble during flight, as they would if the shape of their field was squashed. “We didn’t see any electron dipole moment, which means these new particles would have to have different properties than were predicted,” Doyle said. “What this says is that these beyond-the-standard-model theories may have to be revised.”

    The finding doesn’t, however, close the door on theories of what lies beyond the standard model, Doyle said.

    “There were reasons to think there were particles at this mass at this energy scale, but we are not finding them,” he said. “Some of those theories look very unlikely to be correct. But there is room for some other very reasonable theories that predict particles just above where we are now, so it’s definitely worthwhile to keep pushing.”

    Going forward, Doyle and colleagues may not be alone in that effort.

    “This field is growing,” he said. “Most of the people who did the ACME experiments were students and postdoctoral fellows, who, together, deserve most of the credit. They have now become the next generation of scientists in the field and have, along with scientists from other labs, come up with exciting new ideas on how to do these measurements even better … So we expect this to be a very vibrant area for at least the next 10 years as people use new quantum tools to make these types of measurements. The big physics mysteries of the universe remain, and this community aims to keep trying to figure them out in our basement labs.”

    This research was supported with funding from the National Science Foundation.

    See the full article here .

    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Harvard University campus
    Harvard is the oldest institution of higher education in the United States, established in 1636 by vote of the Great and General Court of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. It was named after the College’s first benefactor, the young minister John Harvard of Charlestown, who upon his death in 1638 left his library and half his estate to the institution. A statue of John Harvard stands today in front of University Hall in Harvard Yard, and is perhaps the University’s best known landmark.

    Harvard University has 12 degree-granting Schools in addition to the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study. The University has grown from nine students with a single master to an enrollment of more than 20,000 degree candidates including undergraduate, graduate, and professional students. There are more than 360,000 living alumni in the U.S. and over 190 other countries.

     
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