Tagged: U Chicago Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • richardmitnick 12:42 pm on June 25, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Efimov molecules, How the first complex molecules formed in the early universe and how complex materials came into being, Prof. Cheng Chin, Quantum objects, U Chicago   

    From U Chicago: “UChicago physicists settle debate over how exotic quantum particles form” 

    U Chicago bloc

    University of Chicago

    June 22, 2017
    Carla Reiter

    New research by physicists at the University of Chicago settles a longstanding disagreement over the formation of exotic quantum particles known as Efimov molecules.

    The findings, published last month in Nature Physics, address differences between how theorists say Efimov molecules should form and the way researchers say they did form in experiments. The study found that the simple picture scientists formulated based on almost 10 years of experimentation had it wrong—a result that has implications for understanding how the first complex molecules formed in the early universe and how complex materials came into being.

    Prof. Cheng Chin. No image credit.

    Efimov molecules are quantum objects formed by three particles that bind together when two particles are unable to do so. The same three particles can make molecules in an infinite range of sizes, depending on the strength of the interactions between them.

    Experiments had shown the size of an Efimov molecule was roughly proportional to the size of the atoms that comprise it—a property physicists call universality.

    “This hypothesis has been checked and rechecked multiple times in the past 10 years, and almost all the experiments suggested that this is indeed the case,” said Cheng Chin, a professor of physics at UChicago, who leads the lab where the new findings were made. “But some theorists say the real world is more complicated than this simple formula. There should be some other factors that will break this universality.“

    The new findings come down somewhere between the previous experimental findings and predictions of theorists. They contradict both and do away with the idea of universality.

    “I have to say that I am surprised,” Chin said. “This was an experiment where I did not anticipate the result before we got the data.”

    The data came from extremely sensitive experiments done with cesium and lithium atoms using techniques devised by Jacob Johansen, previously a graduate student in Chin’s lab who is now a postdoctoral fellow at Northwestern University. Krutik Patel, a graduate student at UChicago, and Brian DeSalvo, a postdoctoral researcher at UChicago, also contributed to the work.

    “We wanted to be able to say once and for all that if we didn’t see any dependence on these other properties, then there’s really something seriously wrong with the theory,” Johansen said. “If we did see dependence, then we’re seeing the breakdown of this universality. It always feels good, as a scientist, to resolve these sorts of questions.”

    Developing new techniques

    Here “3” symbolizes an Efimov molecule comprised of three atoms. While all “3”s look about the same, research from the Chin group observed a tiny “3” that is clearly different. Courtesy of Cheng Chin.

    Efimov molecules are held together by quantum forces rather than by the chemical bonds that bind together familiar molecules such as H2O. The atoms are so weakly connected that the molecules can’t exist under normal conditions. Heat in a room providing enough energy to shatter their bonds.

    The Efimov molecule experiments were done at extremely low temperatures—50 billionths of a degree above absolute zero—and under the influence of a strong magnetic field, which is used to control the interaction of the atoms. When the field strength is in a particular, narrow range, the interaction between atoms intensifies and molecules form. By analyzing the precise conditions in which formation occurs, scientists can infer the size of the molecules.

    But controlling the magnetic field precisely enough to make the measurements Johansen sought is extremely difficult. Even heat generated by the electric current used to create the field was enough to change that field, making it hard to reproduce in experiments. The field could fluctuate at a level of only one part in a million—a thousand times weaker than the Earth’s magnetic field—and Johansen had to stabilize it and monitor how it changed over time.

    The key was a technique he developed to probe the field using microwave electronics and the atoms themselves.

    “I consider what Jacob did a tour de force,” Chin said. “He can control the field with such high accuracy and perform very precise measurements on the size of these Efimov molecules and for the first time the data really confirm that there is a significant deviation of the universality.”

    The new findings have important implications for understanding the development of complexity in materials. Normal materials have diverse properties, which could not have arisen if their behavior at the quantum level was identical. The three-body Efimov system puts scientists right at the point at which universal behavior disappears.

    “Any quantum system made with three or more particles is a very, very difficult problem,” Chin said. “Only recently do we really have the capability to test the theory and understand the nature of such molecules. We are making progress toward understanding these small quantum clusters. This will be a building block for understanding more complex material.”

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    U Chicago Campus

    An intellectual destination

    One of the world’s premier academic and research institutions, the University of Chicago has driven new ways of thinking since our 1890 founding. Today, UChicago is an intellectual destination that draws inspired scholars to our Hyde Park and international campuses, keeping UChicago at the nexus of ideas that challenge and change the world.

  • richardmitnick 4:24 pm on June 22, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Chicago Quantum Exchange to create technologically transformative ecosystem, Combining strengths in quantum information, , U Chicago   

    From U Chicago: “Chicago Quantum Exchange to create technologically transformative ecosystem” 

    U Chicago bloc

    University of Chicago

    June 20, 2017
    Steve Koppes

    UChicago and affiliated laboratories to collaborate on advancing the science and engineering of quantum information. Courtesy of Nicholas Brawand

    The University of Chicago is collaborating with the U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory and Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory to launch an intellectual hub for advancing academic, industrial and governmental efforts in the science and engineering of quantum information.

    This hub within the Institute for Molecular Engineering, called the Chicago Quantum Exchange, will facilitate the exploration of quantum information and the development of new applications with the potential to dramatically improve technology for communication, computing and sensing. The collaboration will include scientists and engineers from the two national labs and IME, as well as scholars from UChicago’s departments of physics, chemistry, computer science, and astronomy and astrophysics.

    Quantum mechanics governs the behavior of matter at the atomic and subatomic levels in exotic and unfamiliar ways compared to the classical physics used to understand the movements of everyday objects. The engineering of quantum phenomena could lead to new classes of devices and computing capabilities, permitting novel approaches to solving problems that cannot be addressed using existing technology.

    “The combination of the University of Chicago, Argonne National Laboratory and Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, working together as the Chicago Quantum Exchange, is unique in the domain of quantum information science,” said Matthew Tirrell, dean and founding Pritzker Director of the Institute for Molecular Engineering and Argonne’s deputy laboratory director for science. “The CQE’s capabilities will span the range of quantum information—from basic solid-state experimental and theoretical physics, to device design and fabrication, to algorithm and software development. CQE aims to integrate and exploit these capabilities to create a quantum information technology ecosystem.”

    Serving as director of the Chicago Quantum Exchange will be David Awschalom, UChicago’s Liew Family Professor in Molecular Engineering and an Argonne senior scientist. Discussions about establishing a trailblazing quantum engineering initiative began soon after Awschalom joined the UChicago faculty in 2013 when he proposed this concept, and were subsequently developed through the recruitment of faculty and the creation of state-of-the-art measurement laboratories.

    “We are at a remarkable moment in science and engineering, where a stream of scientific discoveries are yielding new ways to create, control and communicate between quantum states of matter,” Awschalom said. “Efforts in Chicago and around the world are leading to the development of fundamentally new technologies, where information is manipulated at the atomic scale and governed by the laws of quantum mechanics. Transformative technologies are likely to emerge with far-reaching applications—ranging from ultra-sensitive sensors for biomedical imaging to secure communication networks to new paradigms for computation. In addition, they are making us re-think the meaning of information itself.”

    The collaboration will benefit from UChicago’s Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, which supports the creation of innovative businesses connected to UChicago and Chicago’s South Side. The CQE will have a strong connection with a major Hyde Park innovation project that was announced recently as the second phase of the Harper Court development on the north side of 53rd Street, and will include an expansion of Polsky Center activities. This project will enable the transition from laboratory discoveries to societal applications through industrial collaborations and startup initiatives.

    Companies large and small are positioning themselves to make a far-reaching impact with this new quantum technology. Alumni of IME’s quantum engineering PhD program have been recruited to work for many of these companies. The creation of CQE will allow for new linkages and collaborations with industry, governmental agencies and other academic institutions, as well as support from the Polsky Center for new startup ventures.

    This new quantum ecosystem will provide a collaborative environment for researchers to invent technologies in which all the components of information processing—sensing, computation, storage and communication—are kept in the quantum world, Awschalom said. This contrasts with today’s mainstream computer systems, which frequently transform electronic signals from laptop computers into light for internet transmission via fiber optics, transforming them back into electronic signals when they arrive at their target computers, finally to become stored as magnetic data on hard drives.

    IME’s quantum engineering program is already training a new workforce of “quantum engineers” to meet the need of industry, government laboratories and universities. The program now consists of eight faculty members and more than 100 postdoctoral scientists and doctoral students. Approximately 20 faculty members from UChicago’s Physical Sciences Division also pursue quantum research. These include David Schuster, assistant professor in physics, who collaborates with Argonne and Fermilab researchers.

    Combining strengths in quantum information

    The collaboration will rely on the distinctive strengths of the University and the two national laboratories, both of which are located in the Chicago suburbs and have longstanding affiliations with the University of Chicago.

    At Argonne, approximately 20 researchers conduct quantum-related research through joint appointments at the laboratory and UChicago. Fermilab has about 25 scientists and technicians working on quantum research initiatives related to the development of particle sensors, quantum computing and quantum algorithms.

    “This is a great time to invest in quantum materials and quantum information systems,” said Supratik Guha, director of Argonne’s Nanoscience and Technology Division and a professor of molecular engineering at UChicago. “We have extensive state-of-the-art capabilities in this area.”

    Argonne proposed the first recognizable theoretical framework for a quantum computer, work conducted in the early 1980s by Paul Benioff. Today, including joint appointees, Argonne’s expertise spans the spectrum of quantum sensing, quantum computing, classical computing and materials science.

    Argonne and UChicago already have invested approximately $6 million to build comprehensive materials synthesis facilities—called “The Quantum Factory”—at both locations. Guha, for example, has installed state-of-the-art deposition systems that he uses to layer atoms of materials needed for building quantum structures.

    “Together we will have comprehensive capabilities to be able to grow and synthesize one-, two- and three-dimensional quantum structures for the future,” Guha said. These structures, called quantum bits—qubits—serve as the building blocks for quantum computing and quantum sensing.

    Illustration of near-infrared light polarizing nuclear spins in a silicon carbide chip. Courtesy of Peter Allen

    Argonne also has theorists who can help identify problems in physics and chemistry that could be solved via quantum computing. Argonne’s experts in algorithms, operating systems and systems software, led by Rick Stevens, associate laboratory director and UChicago professor in computer science, will play a critical role as well, because no quantum computer will be able to operate without connecting to a classical computer.

    Fermilab’s interest in quantum computing stems from the enhanced capabilities that the technology could offer within 15 years, said Joseph Lykken, Fermilab deputy director and senior scientist.

    “The Large Hadron Collider experiments, ATLAS and CMS, will still be running 15 years from now,” Lykken said. “Our neutrino experiment, DUNE, will still be running 15 years from now. Computing is integral to particle physics discoveries, so advances that are 15 years away in high-energy physics are developments that we have to start thinking about right now.”

    Lykken noted that almost any quantum computing technology is, by definition, a device with atomic-level sensitivity that potentially could be applied to sensitive particle physics experiments. An ongoing Fermilab-UChicago collaboration is exploring the use of quantum computing for axion detection. Axions are candidate particles for dark matter, an invisible mass of unknown composition that accounts for 85 percent of the mass of the universe.

    Another collaboration with UChicago involves developing quantum computer technology that uses photons in superconducting radio frequency cavities for data storage and error correction. These photons are light particles emitted as microwaves. Scientists expect the control and measurement of microwave photons to become important components of quantum computers.

    “We build the best superconducting microwave cavities in the world, but we build them for accelerators,” Lykken said. Fermilab is collaborating with UChicago to adapt the technology for quantum applications.

    Fermilab also has partnered with the California Institute of Technology and AT&T to develop a prototype quantum information network at the lab. Fermilab, Caltech and AT&T have long collaborated to efficiently transmit the Large Hadron Collider’s massive data sets. The project, a quantum internet demonstration of sorts, is called INQNET (INtelligent Quantum NEtworks and Technologies).

    Fermilab also is working to increase the scale of today’s quantum computers. Fermilab can contribute to this effort because quantum computers are complicated, sensitive, cryogenic devices. The laboratory has decades of experience in scaling up such devices for high-energy physics applications.

    “It’s one of the main things that we do,” Lykken said.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    U Chicago Campus

    An intellectual destination

    One of the world’s premier academic and research institutions, the University of Chicago has driven new ways of thinking since our 1890 founding. Today, UChicago is an intellectual destination that draws inspired scholars to our Hyde Park and international campuses, keeping UChicago at the nexus of ideas that challenge and change the world.

  • richardmitnick 12:51 pm on June 15, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Loneliness contributes to self-centeredness for sake of self-preservation, Targeting self-centeredness as part of an intervention to lessen loneliness may help break a positive feedback loop that maintains or worsens loneliness over time, U Chicago   

    From U Chicago: “Loneliness contributes to self-centeredness for sake of self-preservation” 

    U Chicago bloc

    University of Chicago

    June 13, 2017
    Steve Koppes

    Study finds positive feedback loop between behaviors.

    New study finds positive feedback loop between loneliness and self-centeredness. No image credit.

    Research conducted over more than a decade indicates that loneliness increases self-centeredness and, to a lesser extent, self-centeredness also increases loneliness.

    The findings by researchers at the University of Chicago show such effects create a positive feedback loop between the two traits: As increased loneliness heightens self-centeredness, the latter then contributes further to enhanced loneliness.

    “If you get more self-centered, you run the risk of staying locked in to feeling socially isolated,” said John Cacioppo, the Tiffany and Margaret Blake Distinguished Service Professor in Psychology and director of the Center for Cognitive and Social Neuroscience.

    Cacioppo and co-authors Stephanie Cacioppo, assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral science at the UChicago Pritzker School of Medicine, and Hsi Yuan Chen, a researcher at the Center for Cognitive and Social Neuroscience, published their findings in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin on June 13.

    The researchers wrote that “targeting self-centeredness as part of an intervention to lessen loneliness may help break a positive feedback loop that maintains or worsens loneliness over time.” Their study is the first to test a prediction from the Cacioppos’ evolutionary theory that loneliness increases self-centeredness. Such research is important because, as many studies have shown, lonely people are more susceptible to a variety of physical and mental health problems as well as higher mortality rates than their non-lonely counterparts.

    The outcome that loneliness increases self-centeredness was expected, but the data showing that self-centeredness also affected loneliness was a surprise, Stephanie Cacioppo said.

    Common societal malady

    In previous research, the Cacioppos reviewed the rates of loneliness in young to older adults across the globe. Five to 10 percent of this population complained of feeling lonely constantly, frequently or all the time. Another 30 to 40 percent complained of feeling lonely constantly.

    Their latest findings are based on 11 years of data taken from 2002 to 2013 as part of the Chicago Health, Aging and Social Relations Study of middle-aged and older Hispanics, African-Americans and Caucasian men and women. The study’s random sample consisted of 229 individuals who ranged from 50 to 68 years of age at the start of the study. They were a diverse sample of randomly selected individuals drawn from the general population who varied in age, gender, ethnicity and socioeconomic status.

    Early psychological research treated loneliness as an anomalous or temporary feeling of distress that had no redeeming value or adaptive purpose. “None of that could be further from the truth,” Stephanie Cacioppo said.

    The evolutionary perspective is why. In 2006, John Cacioppo and colleagues proposed an evolutionary interpretation of loneliness based on a neuroscientific or biological approach.

    In this view, evolution has shaped the brain to incline humans toward certain emotions, thoughts and behavior. “A variety of biological mechanisms have evolved that capitalize on aversive signals to motivate us to act in ways that are essential for our reproduction or survival,” the UChicago co-authors wrote. From that perspective, loneliness serves as the psychological counterpart of physical pain.

    “Physical pain is an aversive signal that alerts us of potential tissue damange and motivates us to take care of our physical body,” the UChicago researchers wrote. Loneliness, meanwhile, is part of a warning system that motivates people to repair or replace their deficient social relationships.

    Evolution of loneliness

    The finding that loneliness tends to increase self-centeredness fits the evolutionary interpretation of loneliness. From an evolutionary-biological viewpoint, people have to be concerned with their own interests. The pressures of modern society, however, are significantly different from those that prevailed when loneliness evolved in the human species, researchers found.

    “Humans evolved to become such a powerful species, in large part due to mutual aid and protection and the changes in the brain that proved adaptive in social interactions,” John Cacioppo said. “When we don’t have mutual aid and protection, we are more likely to become focused on our own interests and welfare. That is, we become more self-centered.”

    In modern society, becoming more self-centered protects lonely people in the short term but not the long term. That’s because the harmful effects of loneliness accrue over time to reduce a person’s health and well-being.

    “This evolutionarily adaptive response may have helped people survive in ancient times, but in contemporary society may well make it harder for people to get out of feelings of loneliness,” John Cacioppo said.

    When humans are at their best, they provide mutual aid and protection, Stephanie Cacioppo added. “It isn’t that one individual is sacrificial to the other. It’s that together they do more than the sum of the parts. Loneliness undercuts that focus and really makes you focus on only your interests at the expense of others.”

    The Cacioppos have multiple loneliness studies in progress that address its social, behavioral, neural, hormonal, genetic, cellular and molecular aspects, as well as interventions.

    “Now that we know loneliness is damaging and contributing to the misery and health care costs of America, how do we reduce it?” John Cacioppo asked.

    Funding: National Institute on Aging.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    U Chicago Campus

    An intellectual destination

    One of the world’s premier academic and research institutions, the University of Chicago has driven new ways of thinking since our 1890 founding. Today, UChicago is an intellectual destination that draws inspired scholars to our Hyde Park and international campuses, keeping UChicago at the nexus of ideas that challenge and change the world.

  • richardmitnick 1:15 pm on May 25, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , , , U Chicago,   

    From U Chicago: “World’s most sensitive dark matter detector releases first results” 

    U Chicago bloc

    University of Chicago

    May 18, 2017
    (773) 702-8360
    News media only

    UChicago scientists part of international XENON collaboration

    XENON1T installation in the underground hall of Laboratori Nazionali del Gran Sasso. The three story building on the right houses various auxiliary systems. The cryostat containing the LXeTPC is located inside the large water tank on the left. Photo by Roberto Corrieri and Patrick De Perio

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

    Scientists assembling the XENON1T time projection chamber. Photo by Enrico Sacchetti

    Scientists behind XENON1T, the largest dark matter experiment of its kind ever built, are encouraged by early results, describing them as the best so far in the search for dark matter.

    Dark matter is one of the basic constituents of the universe, five times more abundant than ordinary matter. Several astronomical measurements have corroborated the existence of dark matter, leading to an international effort to observe it directly. Scientists are trying to detect dark matter particle interacting with ordinary matter through the use of extremely sensitive detectors. Such interactions are so feeble that they have escaped direct detection to date, forcing scientists to build detectors that are more and more sensitive and have extremely low levels of radioactivity.

    On May 18, the XENON Collaboration released results from a first, 30-day run of XENON1T, showing the detector has a record low radioactivity level, many orders of magnitude below surrounding material on earth.

    “The care that we put into every single detail of the new detector is finally paying back,” said Luca Grandi, assistant professor in physics at the University of Chicago and member of the XENON Collaboration. “We have excellent discovery potential in the years to come because of the huge dimension of XENON1T and its incredibly low background. These early results already are allowing us to explore regions never explored before.”

    The XENON Collaboration consists of 135 researchers from the United States, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, Portugal, France, the Netherlands, Israel, Sweden and the United Arab Emirates, who hope to one day confirm dark matter’s existence and shed light on its mysterious properties.

    Located deep below a mountain in central Italy, XENON1T features a 3.2-ton xenon dual-phase time projection chamber. This central detector sits fully submersed in the middle of the water tank, in order to shield it from natural radioactivity in the cavern. A cryostat helps keep the xenon at a temperature of minus-95 degrees Celsius without freezing the surrounding water. The mountain above the laboratory further shields the detector, preventing it from being perturbed by cosmic rays.

    But shielding from the outer world is not enough, since all materials on Earth contain tiny traces of natural radioactivity. Thus extreme care was taken to find, select and process the materials making up the detector to achieve the lowest possible radioactive content. This allowed XENON1T to achieve record “silence” necessary to detect the very weak output of dark matter.

    A particle interaction in the one-ton central core of the time projection chamber leads to tiny flashes of light. Scientists record and study these flashes to infer the position and the energy of the interacting particle—and whether it might be dark matter.

    Despite the brief 30-day science run, the sensitivity of XENON1T has already overcome that of any other experiment in the field probing unexplored dark matter territory.

    “For the moment we do not see anything unexpected, so we set new constraints on dark matter properties,” Grandi said. “But XENON1T just started its exciting journey and since the end of the 30-day science run, we have been steadily accumulating new data.”

    UChicago central to international collaboration

    Grandi’s group is very active within XENON1T, and it is contributing to several aspects of the program. After its initial involvement in the preparation, assembly and early operations of the liquid xenon chamber, the group shifted its focus in the last several months to the development of the computing infrastructure and to data analysis.

    “Despite its low background, XENON1T is producing a large amount of data that needs to be continuously processed,” said Evan Shockley, a graduate student working with Grandi. “The raw data from the detector are directly transferred from Gran Sasso Laboratory to the University of Chicago, serving as the unique distribution point for the entire collaboration.”

    The framework, developed in collaboration with a group led by Robert Gardner, senior fellow at the Computation Institute, allows for the processing of data, both on local and remote resources belonging to the Open Science Grid. The involvement of UChicago’s Research Computing Center including Director Birali Runesha allows members of the collaboration all around the world to access processed data for high-level analyses.

    Grandi’s group also has been heavily involved in the analysis that led to this first result. Christopher Tunnell, a fellow at the Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics, is one of the two XENON1T analysis coordinators and corresponding author of the result. Recently, UChicago hosted about 25 researchers for a month to perform the analyses that led to the first results.

    “It has been a large, concentrated effort and seeing XENON1T back on the front line makes me forget the never-ending days spent next to my colleagues to look at plots and distributions,“ Tunnell said. “There is no better thrill than leading the way in our knowledge of dark matter for the coming years.”

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    U Chicago Campus

    An intellectual destination

    One of the world’s premier academic and research institutions, the University of Chicago has driven new ways of thinking since our 1890 founding. Today, UChicago is an intellectual destination that draws inspired scholars to our Hyde Park and international campuses, keeping UChicago at the nexus of ideas that challenge and change the world.

  • richardmitnick 1:19 pm on February 2, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Primitive achondrites, U Chicago   

    From U Chicago: “Today’s rare meteorites were common 466 million years ago, study finds” 

    U Chicago bloc

    University of Chicago

    January 26, 2017
    Kate Golembiewski

    Artist’s rendering of the space collision 466 million years ago that gave rise to many of the meteorites falling to Earth today.
    Illustration by Don Davis/Southwest Research Institute

    About 466 million years ago, there was a giant collision in outer space. Something hit an asteroid and broke it apart, sending chunks of rock falling to Earth as meteorites. But what kinds of meteorites were making their way to Earth before that collision?

    In a study published Jan. 23 in Nature Astronomy, scientists tackled that question by creating the first reconstruction of the distribution of meteorite types before the collision. They discovered that most of the meteorites falling to Earth today are rare, while many meteorites that are rare today were common before the collision.

    “We found that the meteorite flux—the variety of meteorites falling to Earth—was very, very different from what we see today,” said Philipp Heck, associate professor of geophysical sciences at the University of Chicago, the paper’s lead author. “Looking at the kinds of meteorites that have fallen to Earth in the last hundred million years doesn’t give you a full picture. It would be like looking outside on a snowy day and concluding that every day is snowy, even though it’s not snowy in the summer.”

    Meteorites are pieces of rock that have fallen to Earth from outer space. They’re formed from the debris of collisions between bodies like asteroids, moons and even planets. There are many different types of meteorites, which reflect the different compositions of their parent bodies. By studying the different meteorites that have made their way to Earth, scientists can develop a better understanding of how the basic building blocks of the solar system formed and evolved.

    “Before this study, we knew almost nothing about the meteorite flux to Earth in geological deep time,” said co-author Birger Schmitz, professor of nuclear physics at Lund University. “The conventional view is that the solar system has been very stable over the past 500 million years. So it is quite surprising that the meteorite flux at 467 million years ago was so different from (that of) the present.”

    To learn what the meteorite flux was like before the big collision event, Heck and his colleagues analyzed meteorites that fell more than 466 million years ago. Such finds are rare, but the team was able to look at micrometeorites—tiny specks of space-rock less than 2 millimeters in diameter that fell to Earth. They are less rare. Heck’s Swedish and Russian colleagues retrieved samples of rock from an ancient seafloor exposed in a Russian river valley that contained micrometeorites. They then dissolved almost 600 pounds of the rocks in acid so that only microscopic chromite crystals remained.

    Not having changed during hundreds of millions of years, the crystals revealed the nature of meteorites over time. Analysis of their chemical makeup showed that the meteorites and micrometeorites that fell earlier than 466 million years ago are different from the ones that have fallen since. A full 34 percent of the pre-collision meteorites belong to a meteorite type called primitive achondrites; today, only 0.45 percent of the meteorites that land on Earth are this type.

    Other micrometeorites sampled turned out to be relics from Vesta—the brightest asteroid visible from Earth, which underwent its own collision event over a billion years ago.

    Meteorite delivery from the asteroid belt to the Earth is a little like observing landslides started at different times on a mountainside, said co-author William Bottke, senior research scientist at the Southwest Research Institute. “Today, the rocks reaching the bottom of the mountain might be dominated by a few recent landslides. Going back in time, however, older landslides should be more important. The same is true for asteroid breakup events; some younger ones dominate the current meteorite flux, while in the past older ones dominated.”

    “Knowing more about the different kinds of meteorites that have fallen over time gives us a better understanding of how the asteroid belt evolved and how different collisions happened,” said Heck, an associate curator of meteoritics and polar studies at the Field Museum of Natural History. “Ultimately, we want to study more windows in time, not just the area before and after this collision. That will deepen our knowledge of how different bodies in our solar system formed and interact with each other.”

    Funding: European Research Council and Tawani Foundation

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    U Chicago Campus

    An intellectual destination

    One of the world’s premier academic and research institutions, the University of Chicago has driven new ways of thinking since our 1890 founding. Today, UChicago is an intellectual destination that draws inspired scholars to our Hyde Park and international campuses, keeping UChicago at the nexus of ideas that challenge and change the world.

  • richardmitnick 2:34 pm on January 5, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , U Chicago   

    From U Chicago: “Research reinforces role of supernovae in clocking the universe” 

    U Chicago bloc

    University of Chicago

    January 3, 2017
    Greg Borzo

    New research confirms the role Type Ia supernovae, like G299 pictured above, play in measuring universe expansion. Courtesy of NASA.

    How much light does a supernova shed on the history of universe?

    New research by cosmologists at the University of Chicago and Wayne State University confirms the accuracy of Type Ia supernovae in measuring the pace at which the universe expands. The findings support a widely held theory that the expansion of the universe is accelerating and such acceleration is attributable to a mysterious force known as dark energy. The findings counter recent headlines that Type Ia supernova cannot be relied upon to measure the expansion of the universe.

    Using light from an exploding star as bright as entire galaxies to determine cosmic distances led to the 2011 Nobel Prize in physics. The method relies on the assumption that, like lightbulbs of a known wattage, all Type Ia supernovae are thought to have nearly the same maximum brightness when they explode. Such consistency allows them to be used as beacons to measure the heavens. The weaker the light, the farther away the star. But the method has been challenged in recent years because of findings the light given off by Type Ia supernovae appears more inconsistent than expected.

    “The data that we examined are indeed holding up against these claims of the demise of Type Ia supernovae as a tool for measuring the universe,” said Daniel Scolnic, a postdoctoral scholar at UChicago’s Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics and co-author of the new research published in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. “We should not be persuaded by these other claims just because they got a lot of attention, though it is important to continue to question and strengthen our fundamental assumptions.”

    One of the latest criticisms of Type Ia supernovae for measurement concluded the brightness of these supernovae seems to be in two different subclasses, which could lead to problems when trying to measure distances. In the new research led by David Cinabro, a professor at Wayne State, Scolnic, Rick Kessler, a senior researcher at the Kavli Institute, and others, they did not find evidence of two subclasses of Type Ia supernovae in data examined from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey Supernovae Search and Supernova Legacy Survey.

    SDSS Telescope at Apache Point, NM, USA
    SDSS Telescope at Apache Point, NM, USA

    The recent papers challenging the effectiveness of Type Ia supernovae for measurement used different data sets.

    A secondary criticism has focused on the way Type Ia supernovae are analyzed. When scientists found that distant Type Ia supernovae were fainter than expected, they concluded the universe is expanding at an accelerating rate. That acceleration is explained through dark energy, which scientists estimate makes up 70 percent of the universe. The enigmatic force pulls matter apart, keeping gravity from slowing down the expansion of the universe.

    Yet a substance that makes up 70 percent of the universe but remains unknown is frustrating to a number of cosmologists. The result was a reevaluation of the mathematical tools used to analyze supernovae that gained attention in 2015 by arguing that Type Ia supernovae don’t even show dark energy exists in the first place.

    Scolnic and colleague Adam Riess, who won the 2011 Nobel Prices for the discovery of the accelerating universe, wrote an article for Scientific American Oct. 26, 2016, refuting the claims. They showed that even if the mathematical tools to analyze Type Ia supernovae are used “incorrectly,” there is still a 99.7 percent chance the universe is accelerating.

    The new findings are reassuring for researchers who use Type Ia supernovae to gain an increasingly precise understanding of dark energy, said Joshua A. Frieman, senior staff member at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory [FNAL] who was not involved in the research.

    “The impact of this work will be to strengthen our confidence in using Type Ia supernovae as cosmological probes,” he said.

    Citation: “Search for Type Ia Supernova NUV-Optical Subclasses,” by David Cinabro and Jake Miller (Wayne State University); and Daniel Scolnic and Ashley Li (Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics at the University of Chicago); and Richard Kessler (Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics at University of Chicago and the Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics at the University of Chicago). Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, November 2016. DOI: 10.1093/mnras/stw3109

    Funding: Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics at the University of Chicago, Kavli Foundation, Fred Kavli, Space Telescope Science Institute, and National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    U Chicago Campus

    An intellectual destination

    One of the world’s premier academic and research institutions, the University of Chicago has driven new ways of thinking since our 1890 founding. Today, UChicago is an intellectual destination that draws inspired scholars to our Hyde Park and international campuses, keeping UChicago at the nexus of ideas that challenge and change the world.

  • richardmitnick 1:18 pm on December 15, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , HIP68468, U Chicago   

    From U Chicago: “Astronomers discover dark past of planet-eating ‘Death Star’” 

    U Chicago bloc

    University of Chicago

    December 15, 2016
    Greg Borzo

    Solar twin could hold clues to planetary formation

    HIP68468, a twin star to the sun about 300 light-years away, may have swallowed one or more of its planets, based on lithium and refractory elements recently discovered near its surface.
    Illustration by Gabi Perez / Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias

    An international team of scientists, including researchers from the University of Chicago, has made the rare discovery of a planetary system with a host star similar to Earth’s sun. Especially intriguing is the star’s unusual composition, which indicates it ingested some of its planets.

    “It doesn’t mean that the sun will ‘eat’ the Earth any time soon,” said Jacob Bean, assistant professor of astronomy and astrophysics at UChicago and co-author of an Astronomy & Astrophysics article on the research. “But our discovery provides an indication that violent histories may be common for planetary systems, including our own.”

    Unlike the artificial planet-destroying Death Star in the movie Star Wars, this natural version could provide clues about how planetary systems evolve over time.

    Astronomers discovered the first planet orbiting a star other than the sun in 1995. Since then, more than two thousand exoplanets have been identified. Rare among them are planets that orbit a star similar to Earth’s sun. Due to their extreme similarity to the sun, these so-called solar twins are ideal targets for investigating the connections between stars and their planets.

    Bean and his colleagues studied star HIP68468, which is 300 light years away, as part of a multi-year project to discover planets that orbit solar twins. It’s tricky to draw conclusions from a single system, cautioned Megan Bedell, a UChicago doctoral student who is co-author of the research and the lead planet finder for the collaboration. She said the team plans “to study more stars like this to see whether this is a common outcome of the planet formation process.”

    Computer simulations show that billions of years from now, the accumulated gravitational tugs and pulls between planets will eventually cause Mercury to fall into the sun, said Debra Fischer, a professor of astronomy at Yale University who was not involved in the research. “This study of HIP68468 is a post-mortem of this process happening around another star similar to our sun. The discovery deepens our understanding of the evolution of planetary systems.”

    Two planets discovered

    Using the 3.6-meter telescope at La Silla Observatory in Chile, the research team of scientists from several continents discovered its first exoplanet in 2015.

    ESO 3.6m telescope & HARPS at LaSilla, Chile
    ESO 3.6 meter telescope interior
    ESO 3.6m telescope & HARPS at Cerro LaSilla, Chile

    The more recent discovery needs to be confirmed, but includes two planet candidates—a super Neptune and a super Earth. Their orbits are surprisingly close to their host star, with one 50 percent more massive than Neptune and located at a Venus-like distance from its star. The other, the first super Earth around a solar twin, is three times the Earth’s mass and so close to its star that its orbit takes just three days.

    “These two planets most likely didn’t form where we see them today,” Bedell said. Instead, they probably migrated inward from the outer parts of the planetary system. Other planets could have been ejected from the system—or ingested by their host star.

    HIP68468’s composition points to a history of ingesting planets. It contains four times more lithium than would be expected for a star that is 6 billion years old, as well as a surplus of refractory elements—metals resistant to heat and that are abundant in rocky planets.

    In the hot interior of stars like HIP68468 and the sun, lithium is consumed over time. Planets, on the other hand, preserve lithium because their inner temperatures are not high enough to destroy the element. As a result, when a star engulfs a planet, the lithium that the planet deposits in the stellar atmosphere stands out.

    Taken together, the lithium and the engulfed rocky planet material in the atmosphere of HIP68468 is equivalent to the mass of six Earths.

    “It can be very hard to know the history of a particular star, but once in a while we get lucky and find stars with chemical compositions that likely came from in-falling planets,” Fischer said. “That’s the case with HD68468. The chemical remains of one or more planets are smeared in its atmosphere.

    “It’s as if we saw a cat sitting next to a bird cage,” she added. “If there are yellow feathers sticking out of the cat’s mouth, it’s a good bet that the cat swallowed a canary.”

    The team continues to monitor more than 60 solar twins, looking for more exoplanets. Beyond that, the Giant Magellan Telescope under construction in Chile, for which UChicago is a founding partner, will be capable of detecting more Earth-like exoplanets around solar twins.

    Giant Magellan Telescope, Las Campanas Observatory, to be built  some 115 km (71 mi) north-northeast of La Serena, Chile
    Giant Magellan Telescope, Las Campanas Observatory, to be built some 115 km (71 mi) north-northeast of La Serena, Chile

    “In addition to finding Earth-like planets, the Giant Magellan Telescope will enable astronomers to study the atmospheric composition of stars at even greater detail than we can today,” Bean said. “That will further reveal the histories of planetary systems that are subtly imprinted on their host stars.”

    Citation: “The Solar Twin Planet Search. V. Close-in, low-mass planet candidates and evidence of planet accretion in the solar twin HIP68468,” by Megan Bedell and Jacob Bean (University of Chicago); first author Jorge Meléndez, Sylvio Ferraz-Mello, Jhon Yana-Galarza, Leonardo dos Santos, Marcelo Tucci Maia and Lorenzo Spina (Universidade de Sao Paulo); Alan Alves-Brito (Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul); Ivan Ramirez (University of Texas Austin); Martin Asplund and Luca Casagrande (Australian National University); Stefan Dreizler (University of Göttingen); Hong-Liang Yan and Jian-Rong Shi (Chinese Academy of Sciences); Karin Lind (Max Planck Institute for Astronomy); and TalaWanda Monroe (Space Telescope Science Institute). The paper is available at https://arxiv.org/abs/1610.09067

    Funding: São Paulo Research Foundation, Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico, National Science Foundation, Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, David and Lucile Packard Foundation, and Australian Research Council

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    U Chicago Campus

    An intellectual destination

    One of the world’s premier academic and research institutions, the University of Chicago has driven new ways of thinking since our 1890 founding. Today, UChicago is an intellectual destination that draws inspired scholars to our Hyde Park and international campuses, keeping UChicago at the nexus of ideas that challenge and change the world.

  • richardmitnick 7:23 am on October 7, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Case of Earth’s missing continental crust solved: It sank, , , U Chicago   

    From U Chicago: “Case of Earth’s missing continental crust solved: It sank” 

    U Chicago bloc

    University of Chicago

    October 4, 2016
    Carla Reiter

    Mantle swallowed massive chunk of Eurasia and India, study finds

    UChicago scientists have concluded that half the original mass of Eurasia and India disappeared into the Earth’s interior before the two continents began their slow-motion collision approximately 60 million years ago. The participating UChicago scientists are (from left) Miquela Ingalls, doctoral student in geophysical sciences; David Rowley, professor in geophysical sciences; and Albert Colman, assistant professor in geophysical sciences. Rowley holds a rock of the type they believe sank into the interior. Photo by Jean Lachat

    How do you make half the mass of two continents disappear? To answer that question, you first need to discover that it’s missing.

    That’s what a trio of University of Chicago geoscientists and their collaborator did, and their explanation for where the mass went significantly changes prevailing ideas about what can happen when continents collide. It also has important implications for our understanding of when the continents grew to their present size and how the chemistry of the Earth’s interior has evolved.

    The study, published online Sept. 19 in Nature Geoscience, examines the collision of Eurasia and India, which began about 60 million years ago, created the Himalayas and is still in (slow) progress. The scientists computed with unprecedented precision the amount of landmass, or “continental crust,” before and after the collision.

    “What we found is that half of the mass that was there 60 million years ago is missing from the earth’s surface today,“ said Miquela Ingalls, a graduate student in geophysical sciences who led the project as part of her doctoral work.

    The result was unexpectedly large. After considering all other ways the mass might be accounted for, the researchers concluded that so huge a mass discrepancy could only be explained if the missing chunk had gone back down into the Earth’s mantle—something geoscientists had considered more or less impossible on such a scale.

    When tectonic plates come together, something has to give.

    The tectonic plates of the world were mapped in 1996, USGS.
    The tectonic plates of the world were mapped in 1996, USGS

    According to plate tectonic theory, the surface of the Earth comprises a mosaic of about a dozen rigid plates in relative motion. These plates move atop the upper mantle, and plates topped with thicker, more buoyant continental crust ride higher than those topped with thinner oceanic crust. Oceanic crust can dip and slide into the mantle, where it eventually mixes together with the mantle material. But continental crust like that involved in the Eurasia-India collision is less dense, and geologists have long believed that when it meets the mantle, it is pushed back up like a beach ball in water, never mixing back in.

    Geology 101 miscreant

    “We’re taught in Geology 101 that continental crust is buoyant and can’t descend into the mantle,” Ingalls said. The new results throw that idea out the window.

    “We really have significant amounts of crust that have disappeared from the crustal reservoir, and the only place that it can go is into the mantle,” said David Rowley, a professor in geophysical sciences who is one of Ingalls’ advisors and a collaborator on the project. “It used to be thought that the mantle and the crust interacted only in a relatively minor way. This work suggests that, at least in certain circumstances, that’s not true.”

    The scientists’ conclusion arose out of meticulous calculations of the amount of mass there before and after the collision, and a careful accounting of all possible ways it could have been distributed. Computing the amount of crust “before” is a contentious problem involving careful dating of the ages of strata and reconstructions of past plate positions, Ingalls said. Previous workers have done similar calculations but have often tried to force the “before” and “after” numbers to balance, “trying to make the system match up with what we think we already know about how tectonics works.”

    Ingalls and collaborators made no such assumptions. They used recently revised estimates about plate movements to figure out how large the two plates were at the onset of collision, and synthesized more than 20 years’ worth of data on the geology of various regions of the Earth to calculate how thick the crust would have been.

    “By looking at all of the relevant data sets, we’ve been able to say what the mass of the crust was at the beginning of collision,” Rowley said.

    Limited options

    There were only a few places for the displaced crust to go after the collision: Some was thrust upward, forming the Himalayas, some was eroded and deposited as enormous sedimentary deposits in the oceans, and some was squeezed out the sides of the colliding plates, forming Southeast Asia.

    “But accounting for all of these different types of mass loss, we still find that half of the continental crust involved in this collision is missing today,” Ingalls said. “If we’ve accounted for all possible solutions at the surface, it means the remaining mass must have been recycled wholesale into the mantle.”

    If large areas of continental crust are recycled back into the mantle, scientists can at last explain some previously puzzling geochemistry. Elements including lead and uranium are periodically erupted from the mantle through volcanic activity. Such elements are relatively abundant in continental crust, but scarce in the mantle. Yet the composition of some mantle-derived rocks indicates that they have been contaminated by continental crust. So how did continental material mix back into the mantle?

    “The implication of our work is that, if we’re seeing the India-Asia collision system as an ongoing process over Earth’s history, there has been a continuous mixing of the continental crustal elements back into the mantle,” said Rowley. “And they can then be re-extracted and seen in some of those volcanic materials that come out of the mantle today.”

    Funding: National Science Foundation

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    U Chicago Campus

    An intellectual destination

    One of the world’s premier academic and research institutions, the University of Chicago has driven new ways of thinking since our 1890 founding. Today, UChicago is an intellectual destination that draws inspired scholars to our Hyde Park and international campuses, keeping UChicago at the nexus of ideas that challenge and change the world.

  • richardmitnick 2:27 pm on August 15, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Grad student’s discovery could enable rapid screening of anti-cancer compounds, U Chicago   

    From U Chicago: “Grad student’s discovery could enable rapid screening of anti-cancer compounds” 

    U Chicago bloc

    University of Chicago

    August 11, 2016
    Carla Reiter

    Graduate student Di Liu co-authored an article describing how to create tiny, knotted chemical structures that may provide a way to rapidly screen hundreds of chemicals for anti-cancer activity. Photo by Joel Wintermantle

    It isn’t often that a graduate student makes a spectacular technical leap in his field, or invents a process that can have a significant impact on a real-world problem. Di Liu did both.

    A chemistry graduate student at UChicago, Liu devised a way to make tiny knotted and interlocked chemical structures that have been impossible for chemists to fabricate until now, and he invented a way that those knots might be used to quickly screen hundreds of chemicals for fighting cancer.

    Many chemicals have knots or links as part of their structure. But synthesizing new substances that tie themselves in knots at the molecular scale is prodigiously difficult. Liu found a way to generate a large variety of tiny knots, 15 to 20 nanometers in diameter (smaller than a virus), in a piece of single-stranded DNA.

    Asst. Prof. Yossi Weizmann co-authored the paper on generating knotted chemical structures. Photo by Joel Wintermantle

    “Nobody could do it before,” said Yossi Weizmann, an assistant professor in chemistry and a co-author on the paper. “Di found a way to synthesize something that’s very challenging.” The challenge was part of what attracted him. Liu, Weizmann and three co-authors published their findings July 4 in Nature Chemistry.

    “Some people want to run faster; some people want to jump higher. Chemists want to create more complex molecules,” Liu said. “It’s a demonstration of our capability.”

    The knots are a way to mimic what happens to DNA inside cells, and they offer a possible tool for attacking an enzyme crucial to the survival of cancer cells.

    ‘Super-coiled’ DNA

    DNA is a long molecule. In living cells, it must coil itself up in order to fit into the cell nucleus, and in doing so it becomes “super-coiled”—an effect similar to being knotted. Like a piece of string twisted too tightly, short segments twist back on themselves, tangle and poke off to the side of the main strand, interfering with the DNA’s ability to function.

    When the DNA needs to replicate, an enzyme called DNA topoisomerase snips the super-coils and untangles them, relaxing the tension in the strand. Then it rejoins the snipped ends so the DNA can function. It’s a feat so complex that James Wang, the enzyme’s discoverer, dubbed it “the magician of the DNA world.” It also makes topoisomerase a prime target for anti-cancer drugs: If the topoisomerase in a cancer cell doesn’t function, the cancer cell will die.

    Liu uses knotted DNA as a probe to detect the activity of topoisomerase. He first gets the knots to form themselves from strategically designed sequences of single-stranded DNA and shorter segments he calls “staples.” The four nucleotides that make up DNA bond with each other according to strict rules: A bonds only with T; C bonds only with G. So by picking the sequence of nucleotides on the staples, Liu can manipulate where each will attach to the long strand.

    Using this method Liu has encouraged the formation of nine different knot structures, some, he acknowledged, simply for the satisfaction of being able to do it. After the structure forms, an enzyme seals the ends and another enzyme removes the staples.

    When topoisomerase is introduced into a vial containing the knotted DNA, it snips the knot, untangles it and seals its ends to form a circle, “unknotting” the knot. The relative quantities of knots and circles after adding topoisomerase show how active the enzyme has been in unknotting the knots: fewer circles equal less action.

    Testing, retesting

    To test a potential anti-topoisomerase drug, researchers could run the test before and after introducing the drug, and see if the drug had inhibited the action of the enzyme. But the method chemists typically use for such assays, gel electrophoresis, is too slow to be a practical way to screen drug candidates.

    Liu invented an alternative. He realized that he didn’t need to see the knots themselves, he just needed to see evidence that the enzyme had unknotted them. Since the circles of DNA can replicate while the knots can’t, he looked for replication, which is easily detectable using a fluorescent dye that binds to DNA.

    “You’re detecting the activity of topoisomerase, because it can unknot the knot to a circle,” said Weizmann. “And if the DNA is unknotted, then you can detect the replication. And because this method is electrophoresis-free, it can be used in high through-put screening for drugs against this enzyme.”

    Liu and Weizmann plan to begin testing a library of chemicals, beginning with molecules already approved by the FDA. “There are hundreds, Weizmann said. “If you hit something, then you start to study it. If you don’t, you go on to others. It’s trial by error. But you have the ability to screen hundreds because the method is very easy.”

    Funding: Howard Hughes Medical Institute and the National Science Foundation.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    U Chicago Campus

    An intellectual destination

    One of the world’s premier academic and research institutions, the University of Chicago has driven new ways of thinking since our 1890 founding. Today, UChicago is an intellectual destination that draws inspired scholars to our Hyde Park and international campuses, keeping UChicago at the nexus of ideas that challenge and change the world.

  • richardmitnick 9:30 am on July 22, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , U Chicago   

    From U Chicago: “Chicago to host world’s largest conference on high-energy physics” 

    U Chicago bloc

    University of Chicago

    July 21, 2016
    No writer credit found

    Scientists from around the world will present results during the International Conference on High Energy Physics. Copyright CERN

    More than 1,350 physicists from 49 countries will converge in Chicago for the biennial International Conference on High Energy Physics in early August to share new research results, announce new projects and talk about the most intriguing mysteries of the universe.

    The conference will be held Aug. 3-10 at the Sheraton Grand Hotel, 301 E. North Water St. Physicists from the large experiments at CERN’s Large Hadron Collider—the world’s most powerful particle accelerator—will present a wealth of new results.

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

    CERN ATLAS Higgs Event
    CERN/ATLAS detector

    CERN CMS Higgs Event
    CERN/CMS Detector



    This will include an eagerly awaited update about a mysterious bump in the data that could be evidence for a new particle or just a statistical fluctuation, as more data are being analyzed.

    That will be merely one highlight in a program that covers 16 topics—from the Higgs boson to neutrinos to dark matter to cosmology, and will include new results from many experiments at institutions around the world.

    “The International Conference on High Energy Physics will be the scientific event of the year in Chicago,” said Young-Kee Kim, chair of the conference’s organizing committee and the Louis Block Professor in Physics at the University of Chicago. “A great many scientists who specialize in particle physics, cosmology, accelerator science and related fields work in this region’s excellent research universities and our two outstanding national laboratories. We all look forward to showing this vibrant city to our colleagues and discussing the latest developments of our science.”

    Public events

    The conference includes two free events specially designed for the public: The Windy City Physics Slam and a public lecture on the recent, headline-making detection of gravitational waves.

    The Windy City Physics Slam, hosted by WGN-TV Chief Meteorologist Tom Skilling, will take place at 3 p.m. Aug. 7 at the Sheraton Grand Hotel Chicago Ballroom. Inspired by poetry slams, the Physics Slam will pit researchers against each other in a contest to make their field of study sound as interesting, compelling and enjoyable as possible. Five scientists from around the world will compete, using music, dance, props and anything else they want, with the winner determined by audience applause.

    The public lecture, titled “The Detection of Gravitational Waves from Binary Black Hole Mergers,” will begin at 6:30 p.m. Aug. 9, at the Sheraton Grand Hotel Chicago Ballroom. The speaker will be Barry Barish, the Linde Professor of Physics Emeritus at the California Institute of Technology. Barish has played multiple key roles for the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory since 1994. LIGO made international headlines twice this year with its discoveries of gravitational waves, whose existence were predicted by Albert Einstein in his 1915 general theory of relativity.

    LSC LIGO Scientific Collaboration
    Caltech/MIT Advanced aLigo Hanford, WA, USA installation
    Caltech/MIT Advanced aLigo Hanford, WA, USA installation

    Caltech/MIT Advanced aLigo detector installation Livingston, LA, USA
    Caltech/MIT Advanced aLigo detector installation Livingston, LA, USA

    Those events are free and open to the public, with seating on a first-come basis.

    For the media

    Members of the media are invited to “A Nobel Breakfast,” at 8 a.m. Aug. 8. Featured guests will include Nobel laureate Takaaki Kajita and leaders of international laboratories whose work has contributed to Nobel Prizes in physics. Moderating the event will be Edward “Rocky” Kolb, dean of UChicago’s Physical Sciences Division and the Arthur Holly Compton Distinguished Service Professor in Astronomy and Astrophysics.

    Kajita, of the University of Tokyo, shared the 2015 Nobel Prize in Physics “for the discovery of neutrino oscillations, which shows that neutrinos have mass.” The laboratory leaders attending the event will be Fabiola Gianotti, director-general of CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research; Peter Littlewood, director of Argonne National Laboratory; Nigel Lockyer, director of Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory; Yifang Wang, director of China’s Institute for Particle Physics; and Masanori Yamauchi, director-general of KEK, Japan’s high-energy accelerator research organization.

    Media also are invited to see Illinois Congressman Bill Foster receive the 2016 “Champion of Science” award from the Science Coalition, a non-profit, non-partisan organization of more than 60 of the nation’s leading public and private research universities. The award recognizes members of Congress whose actions and votes reflect their belief in the importance of basic scientific research and the key role of federal funding in its facilitation. Foster was nominated for the award by Northern Illinois University, Northwestern University, University of Illinois and the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Foster, the only physicist in Congress, will receive the award at 12:45 p.m. in the Sheraton Grand Hotel Chicago Ballroom.

    Free ICHEP registration and other information for journalists is available here. Interested participants may register for the conference here.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    U Chicago Campus

    An intellectual destination

    One of the world’s premier academic and research institutions, the University of Chicago has driven new ways of thinking since our 1890 founding. Today, UChicago is an intellectual destination that draws inspired scholars to our Hyde Park and international campuses, keeping UChicago at the nexus of ideas that challenge and change the world.

Compose new post
Next post/Next comment
Previous post/Previous comment
Show/Hide comments
Go to top
Go to login
Show/Hide help
shift + esc
%d bloggers like this: