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  • richardmitnick 3:29 pm on October 26, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , Gravitational waves could soon provide measure of universe’s expansion, , U Chicago,   

    From University of Chicago: “Gravitational waves could soon provide measure of universe’s expansion” 

    U Chicago bloc

    From University of Chicago

    Oct 22, 2018
    Louise Lerner

    1
    Image by Robin Dienel/The Carnegie Institution for Science

    UChicago scientists estimate, based on LIGO’s quick first detection of a first neutron star collision, that they could have an extremely precise measurement of the universe’s rate of expansion within five to ten years. [Too bad for me, I’ll be long gone.]

    Twenty years ago, scientists were shocked to realize that our universe is not only expanding, but that it’s expanding faster over time.

    Pinning down the exact rate of expansion, called the Hubble constant after famed astronomer and UChicago alumnus Edwin Hubble, has been surprisingly difficult. Since then scientists have used two methods to calculate the value, and they spit out distressingly different results. But last year’s surprising capture of gravitational waves radiating from a neutron star collision offered a third way to calculate the Hubble constant.

    Edwin Hubble at Caltech Palomar Samuel Oschin 48 inch Telescope, (credit: Emilio Segre Visual Archives/AIP/SPL)

    That was only a single data point from one collision, but in a new paper published Oct. 17 in Nature, three University of Chicago scientists estimate that given how quickly researchers saw the first neutron star collision, they could have a very accurate measurement of the Hubble constant within five to ten years.

    “The Hubble constant tells you the size and the age of the universe; it’s been a holy grail since the birth of cosmology. Calculating this with gravitational waves could give us an entirely new perspective on the universe,” said study author Daniel Holz, a UChicago professor in physics who co-authored the first such calculation from the 2017 discovery. “The question is: When does it become game-changing for cosmology?”

    In 1929, Edwin Hubble announced that based on his observations of galaxies beyond the Milky Way, they seemed to be moving away from us—and the farther away the galaxy, the faster it was receding. This is a cornerstone of the Big Bang theory, and it kicked off a nearly century-long search for the exact rate at which this is occurring.

    To calculate the rate at which the universe is expanding, scientists need two numbers. One is the distance to a faraway object; the other is how fast the object is moving away from us because of the expansion of the universe. If you can see it with a telescope, the second quantity is relatively easy to determine, because the light you see when you look at a distant star gets shifted into the red as it recedes. Astronomers have been using that trick to see how fast an object is moving for more than a century—it’s like the Doppler effect, in which a siren changes pitch as an ambulance passes.

    Major questions in calculations

    But getting an exact measure of the distance is much harder. Traditionally, astrophysicists have used a technique called the cosmic distance ladder, in which the brightness of certain variable stars and supernovae can be used to build a series of comparisons that reach out to the object in question.

    Cosmic Distance Ladder, skynetblogs

    “The problem is, if you scratch beneath the surface, there are a lot of steps with a lot of assumptions along the way,” Holz said.

    Perhaps the supernovae used as markers aren’t as consistent as thought. Maybe we’re mistaking some kinds of supernovae for others, or there’s some unknown error in our measurement of distances to nearby stars. “There’s a lot of complicated astrophysics there that could throw off readings in a number of ways,” he said.

    The other major way to calculate the Hubble constant is to look at the cosmic microwave background [CMB]—the pulse of light created at the very beginning of the universe, which is still faintly detectable.

    CMB per ESA/Planck

    While also useful, this method also relies on assumptions about how the universe works.

    The surprising thing is that even though scientists doing each calculation are confident about their results, they don’t match. One says the universe is expanding almost 10 percent faster than the other. “This is a major question in cosmology right now,” said the study’s first author, Hsin-Yu Chen, then a graduate student at UChicago and now a fellow with Harvard University’s Black Hole Initiative.

    Then the LIGO detectors picked up their first ripple in the fabric of space-time from the collision of two stars last year.


    VIRGO Gravitational Wave interferometer, near Pisa, Italy

    Caltech/MIT Advanced aLigo Hanford, WA, USA installation


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

    Cornell SXS, the Simulating eXtreme Spacetimes (SXS) project

    Gravitational waves. Credit: MPI for Gravitational Physics/W.Benger

    ESA/eLISA the future of gravitational wave research

    1
    Skymap showing how adding Virgo to LIGO helps in reducing the size of the source-likely region in the sky. (Credit: Giuseppe Greco (Virgo Urbino group)

    This not only shook the observatory, but the field of astronomy itself: Being able to both feel the gravitational wave and see the light of the collision’s aftermath with a telescope gave scientists a powerful new tool. “It was kind of an embarrassment of riches,” Holz said.

    Gravitational waves offer a completely different way to calculate the Hubble constant. When two massive stars crash into each other, they send out ripples in the fabric of space-time that can be detected on Earth. By measuring that signal, scientists can get a signature of the mass and energy of the colliding stars. When they compare this reading with the strength of the gravitational waves, they can infer how far away it is.

    This measurement is cleaner and holds fewer assumptions about the universe, which should make it more precise, Holz said. Along with Scott Hughes at MIT, he suggested the idea of making this measurement with gravitational waves paired with telescope readings in 2005. The only question is how often scientists could catch these events, and how good the data from them would be.

    4
    Illustration by A. Simon
    Unlike previous LIGO detections of black holes merging, the two neutron stars that collided sent out a bright flash of light—making it visible to telescopes on Earth.

    [ See https://sciencesprings.wordpress.com/2017/10/20/from-ucsc-neutron-stars-gravitational-waves-and-all-the-gold-in-the-universe/ ]

    ‘It’s only going to get more interesting’

    The paper predicts that once scientists have detected 25 readings from neutron star collisions, they’ll measure the expansion of the universe within an accuracy of 3 percent. With 200 readings, that number narrows to 1 percent.

    “It was quite a surprise for me when we got into the simulations,” Chen said. “It was clear we could reach precision, and we could reach it fast.”

    A precise new number for the Hubble constant would be fascinating no matter the answer, the scientists said. For example, one possible reason for the mismatch in the other two methods is that the nature of gravity itself might have changed over time. The reading also might shed light on dark energy, a mysterious force responsible for the expansion of the universe.

    “With the collision we saw last year, we got lucky—it was close to us, so it was relatively easy to find and analyze,” said Maya Fishbach, a UChicago graduate student and the other author on the paper. “Future detections will be much farther away, but once we get the next generation of telescopes, we should be able to find counterparts for these distant detections as well.”

    The LIGO detectors are planned to begin a new observing run in February 2019, joined by their Italian counterparts at VIRGO. Thanks to an upgrade, the detectors’ sensitivities will be much higher—expanding the number and distance of astronomical events they can pick up.

    “It’s only going to get more interesting from here,” Holz said.

    The authors ran calculations at the University of Chicago Research Computing Center.

    Funding: Kavli Foundation, John Templeton Foundation, 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

    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.

    University of Chicago

    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.

    The University of Chicago is an urban research university that has driven new ways of thinking since 1890. Our commitment to free and open inquiry draws inspired scholars to our global campuses, where ideas are born that challenge and change the world.

    We empower individuals to challenge conventional thinking in pursuit of original ideas. Students in the College develop critical, analytic, and writing skills in our rigorous, interdisciplinary core curriculum. Through graduate programs, students test their ideas with UChicago scholars, and become the next generation of leaders in academia, industry, nonprofits, and government.

    UChicago research has led to such breakthroughs as discovering the link between cancer and genetics, establishing revolutionary theories of economics, and developing tools to produce reliably excellent urban schooling. We generate new insights for the benefit of present and future generations with our national and affiliated laboratories: Argonne National Laboratory, Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, and the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Massachusetts.

    The University of Chicago is enriched by the city we call home. In partnership with our neighbors, we invest in Chicago’s mid-South Side across such areas as health, education, economic growth, and the arts. Together with our medical center, we are the largest private employer on the South Side.

    In all we do, we are driven to dig deeper, push further, and ask bigger questions—and to leverage our knowledge to enrich all human life. Our diverse and creative students and alumni drive innovation, lead international conversations, and make masterpieces. Alumni and faculty, lecturers and postdocs go on to become Nobel laureates, CEOs, university presidents, attorneys general, literary giants, and astronauts.

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  • richardmitnick 8:39 pm on September 28, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , U Chicago, UChicago to offer major in astrophysics   

    From University of Chicago: “UChicago to offer major in astrophysics” 

    U Chicago bloc

    From University of Chicago

    1
    Photo of the Milky Way from the Atacama Desert in Chile, where the University of Chicago is part of a project to build the Giant Magellan Telescope to take unprecedented images of the cosmos. By Carlos Eduardo Fairbairn

    Giant Magellan Telescope, to be at the Carnegie Institution for Science’s Las Campanas Observatory, to be built some 115 km (71 mi) north-northeast of La Serena, Chile, over 2,500 m (8,200 ft) high

    Sep 28, 2018
    Louise Lerner

    Program adds research involvement, statistics, computer science to physics coursework.

    Scientists at the University of Chicago have been unraveling the secrets of the far-flung universe for more than a century, but starting in 2018-19, undergraduates will be able to formally declare a major in astrophysics.

    “I am thrilled to see the astrophysics major come to fruition and the interest that it has already generated,” said Angela Olinto, the Albert A. Michelson Distinguished Service Professor of Astronomy and Astrophysics and dean of the Division of the Physical Sciences. “We know our students are proud of the department’s incredible legacy in the field, and we are delighted to deepen that connection with a formal major.”

    Previously, students interested in the habits of stars and galaxies would major in physics, which underlies much of the study of the universe, and enroll in elective courses in astrophysics. The new major will continue to require physics coursework, but also feature a central sequence tuned to major topics in astronomy and astrophysics; courses in statistics, computer science and observational techniques useful to prepare for research; and an effort to match students with a research placement by the summer of their second year.

    “The new astrophysics major is a splendid addition to an already very strong set of research and teaching programs in the physical sciences,” said John W. Boyer, dean of the College. “Given the extraordinary distinction of the Department’s faculty, students will have remarkable opportunities to engage with leading scholars and to encounter path-breaking research about the nature of our universe.”

    2
    Jonathan Kyl, then an undergrad, uses a telescope atop the Eckhardt Research Center in 2016. Photo by Chris Sheehy

    2
    William Eckhardt Center (Credit: Tom Rossiter Photography)

    The major is designed to get students into research ASAP, said Julia Borst Brazas, the administrator of academic affairs for the Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics. “We have this incredible faculty working on the biggest questions in the field right here, and we want to get students invested early,” she said.

    Rebecca Chen, a rising fourth-year, is one of 10 students expected to graduate this year with the new degree. “I think it’s great—it really provides people with the flexibility and foundations that they really need for the field,” she said. “It gave me a little more space to take courses that directly impact my future research.”

    Chen has conducted research with Profs. Rich Kron and Chihway Chang during her tenure, working both with telescope equipment and analyzing the data from large astronomical surveys. “That really gave me a feel for what the different areas of research are like and which is the best fit for me,” she said.

    The University has been home to luminaries in astronomy and astrophysics since the department was founded in 1897 by George Ellery Hale, who built some of the leading telescopes of the day.

    Caltech Palomar 200 inch Hale Telescope, at Mt Wilson, CA, USA, Altitude 1,712 m (5,617 ft)

    Other faculty and alumni whose names are scattered across space and stars today include Edwin Hubble, SB 1910, PhD 1917, an astronomer who played a crucial role in establishing the field of extragalactic astronomy;

    Edwin Hubble at Caltech Palomar Samuel Oschin 48 inch Telescope, (credit: Emilio Segre Visual Archives/AIP/SPL)

    Gerard Kuiper, sometimes referred to as the father of modern planetary science; Subramanyan Chandrasekhar, a Nobel laureate who described the evolution of stars and black holes; and Eugene Parker, who discovered the solar wind and described magnetic fields in space, among many others.

    NASA Parker Solar Probe Plus named to honor Pioneering Physicist Eugene Parker

    See the full article here .

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

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    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.

    University of Chicago

    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.

    The University of Chicago is an urban research university that has driven new ways of thinking since 1890. Our commitment to free and open inquiry draws inspired scholars to our global campuses, where ideas are born that challenge and change the world.

    We empower individuals to challenge conventional thinking in pursuit of original ideas. Students in the College develop critical, analytic, and writing skills in our rigorous, interdisciplinary core curriculum. Through graduate programs, students test their ideas with UChicago scholars, and become the next generation of leaders in academia, industry, nonprofits, and government.

    UChicago research has led to such breakthroughs as discovering the link between cancer and genetics, establishing revolutionary theories of economics, and developing tools to produce reliably excellent urban schooling. We generate new insights for the benefit of present and future generations with our national and affiliated laboratories: Argonne National Laboratory, Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, and the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Massachusetts.

    The University of Chicago is enriched by the city we call home. In partnership with our neighbors, we invest in Chicago’s mid-South Side across such areas as health, education, economic growth, and the arts. Together with our medical center, we are the largest private employer on the South Side.

    In all we do, we are driven to dig deeper, push further, and ask bigger questions—and to leverage our knowledge to enrich all human life. Our diverse and creative students and alumni drive innovation, lead international conversations, and make masterpieces. Alumni and faculty, lecturers and postdocs go on to become Nobel laureates, CEOs, university presidents, attorneys general, literary giants, and astronauts.

     
  • richardmitnick 12:21 pm on July 30, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , Meteorite Crystals Older than Earth Reveal Early Sun Secrets, , U Chicago   

    From From U Chicago via Discover Magazine: “Meteorite Crystals Older than Earth Reveal Early Sun Secrets” 

    U Chicago bloc

    From University of Chicago

    via
    DiscoverMag

    Discover Magazine

    July 30, 2018
    Erika K. Carlson

    1
    Artist’s illustration of the dusty disk of the early Solar System with an inset microscope image of a hibonite crystal. (Credit: Field Museum, University of Chicago, NASA, ESA, and E. Feild (STSCL))

    Tiny crystals in meteorites were witness to the sun’s unruly behavior in its earliest years.

    The sun sends a lot more than sunshine and rainbows our way. High-energy particles capable of messing with the nuclei of atoms stream off our star constantly. Earth’s magnetic fields shield us from many of the harmful effects of this energetic particles shower but not every solar system object is as protected.

    The sun was even more active, researchers found, in the earliest years of the solar system, before Earth existed. Scientists investigated tiny crystals from the Murchison meteorite that fell to Earth in 1969 — crystals called hibonites. These crystals were probably some of the earliest minerals to form in the solar system, emerging even before Earth did some 4.5 billion years ago. Scientists found that the hibonite crystals had lots of helium and neon atoms, a result of being bombarded by tons of energetic particles from an infant sun. The results were described Monday in Nature Astronomy.

    Ancient Crystals

    Astronomers have observed that young stars are generally very active and emit a lot of high-energy particles compared to stars farther along in their lives. To confirm whether the sun went through an active phase like this, scientists have been studying the chemical composition of meteorites to look for tell-tale signs of reactions caused by energetic particles. In the past, they’d found evidence suggesting the sun had an active early phase thanks to other known elements in the meteorites, but these helium and neon measurements in hibonite crystals are the most conclusive evidence yet.

    “What came together here was that we looked at samples that are probably the oldest or among the oldest materials that we have access to from a meteorite, because it was important to look at very old materials, and then we looked at helium and neon,” says geoscientist Levke Kööp, the first author of this study.

    Helium and neon atoms found in the crystals were the giveaway. Since helium and neon are in the family of elements called noble gases, they almost never form chemical bonds and wouldn’t have bonded to the hibonite crystals as they were forming. So how did these noble gas elements get there?

    Hibonite crystals are made up of several elements, including calcium and aluminum. When high-energy particles like those from the Sun hit some of these atoms, they can split into smaller atoms — like helium and neon. Kööp and her collaborators conclude that since these noble gases couldn’t have bonded into the crystals as they formed, the helium and neon atoms they found in hibonite crystals must be the products of this splitting caused by high-energy particles.

    The researchers found that other grains from the meteorite did not show the particle radiation’s effects to the same degree. This implies that a lot of the energetic particle bombardment that affected the hibonite crystals must have happened very early on in the history of the solar system, when the crystals were still young and hadn’t been incorporated into larger rocky bodies that would eventually fall to Earth as meteorites.

    2
    A microscope image of a tiny hibonite crystal, only about as wide across as a few human hairs. Scientists say these hibonite crystals found in meteorites were some of the earliest minerals to form in our solar system and are older than the Earth. (Credit: Andy Davis, University of Chicago)

    Something Changed

    Comparing the old hibonite crystals to crystals that formed later in the solar system’s history revealed that the sun was very active early in its life, but something changed dramatically in the early solar system so that later crystals did not experience as much energetic particle radiation.

    “Something changed in the irradiation condition,” Kööp says. “For some reason the hibonites were irradiated, but the later formed materials were not. And we don’t know exactly why that is.”

    Kööp says it could have been some change in the properties of the dusty disk of the early Solar System, which would have shielded minerals from the some of the sun’s radiation, or it could have been a change in how much energetic particle radiation the Sun was emitting very early on.

    Next steps, Kööp says, would be to look for the same helium and neon effects in other early Solar System minerals. She also thinks this work will be useful for simulations modeling the evolution of the early Solar System and its dusty disk properties.

    In any case, Kööp is happy that the helium and neon atoms managed to stick around inside these tiny crystals for so long.

    “It actually worked out so nicely, that the signature was so clear,” she says. “There are many, many reasons why we might have not seen it. So actually it seemed like all the stars aligned.”

    See the full article here .

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

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    University of Chicago

    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.

    The University of Chicago is an urban research university that has driven new ways of thinking since 1890. Our commitment to free and open inquiry draws inspired scholars to our global campuses, where ideas are born that challenge and change the world.

    We empower individuals to challenge conventional thinking in pursuit of original ideas. Students in the College develop critical, analytic, and writing skills in our rigorous, interdisciplinary core curriculum. Through graduate programs, students test their ideas with UChicago scholars, and become the next generation of leaders in academia, industry, nonprofits, and government.

    UChicago research has led to such breakthroughs as discovering the link between cancer and genetics, establishing revolutionary theories of economics, and developing tools to produce reliably excellent urban schooling. We generate new insights for the benefit of present and future generations with our national and affiliated laboratories: Argonne National Laboratory, Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, and the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Massachusetts.

    The University of Chicago is enriched by the city we call home. In partnership with our neighbors, we invest in Chicago’s mid-South Side across such areas as health, education, economic growth, and the arts. Together with our medical center, we are the largest private employer on the South Side.

    In all we do, we are driven to dig deeper, push further, and ask bigger questions—and to leverage our knowledge to enrich all human life. Our diverse and creative students and alumni drive innovation, lead international conversations, and make masterpieces. Alumni and faculty, lecturers and postdocs go on to become Nobel laureates, CEOs, university presidents, attorneys general, literary giants, and astronauts.

     
  • richardmitnick 12:54 pm on July 15, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Joshua Frieman, , U Chicago   

    From University of Chicago: “Studying universe requires ‘archaeology on the grand scale,’ physicist says” 

    U Chicago bloc

    From University of Chicago

    Jul 12, 2018
    Ali Sundermier

    1
    Prof. Josh Frieman. Photo by Drew Reynolds

    Joshua Frieman looks to future as head of particle physics research at Fermilab.

    2
    Particle physics research from Fermilab and SLAC are helping to improve our daily lives and the products we use. | Illustration by Sandbox Studio, Chicago.

    As director of the Dark Energy Survey, an international collaboration to map several hundred million galaxies using one of the world’s most powerful digital cameras, Fermilab scientist and University of Chicago professor Josh Frieman, PhD’89, leads more than 400 scientists from over 25 institutions across the world in the quest to unravel mysteries of the universe.

    Dark Energy Survey


    Dark Energy Camera [DECam], built at FNAL


    NOAO/CTIO Victor M Blanco 4m Telescope which houses the DECam at Cerro Tololo, Chile, housing DECam at an altitude of 7200 feet

    The role, he said, has given him the opportunity to work with diverse groups of people toward a common goal, a skill that comes in handy as he takes on the role of Particle Physics Division head at the Department of Energy’s Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory.

    “Not only is Josh an outstanding scientist, he’s demonstrated an ability to lead a collaboration of hundreds of researchers who are situated all over the world,” said Fermilab Deputy Director Joe Lykken. “It requires a kind of cooperative spirit and skill that makes him perfect to lead one of the largest and most scientifically diverse divisions at Fermilab.”

    With a physicist for a father, Frieman said physics was certainly in the air when he was growing up. But it wasn’t until he was halfway through his undergraduate career that he discovered his passion for cosmology.

    “It was around 1980,” he said, “when the field was starting to go through a renaissance by marrying ideas from particle physics with cosmology so that we could make theories of the early universe. The idea of cosmology as archaeology on the grand scale—that we could make observations of the universe and use them like pottery shards to piece together the first few moments after the Big Bang—was very compelling to me. That’s how I decided to become a physicist, through the desire to understand the beginning of the universe.”

    Frieman did his graduate work on cosmological theory at the University of Chicago, going on to complete a postdoctoral position at SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory. In the late 1980s, he returned to Illinois to join the scientific staff at Fermilab, teaching astronomy and astrophysics part-time at the University of Chicago.

    Although Frieman started out in cosmological theory, as the field of cosmology evolved his interests became increasingly entangled with observations as opposed to pure theory, he said. In the late 1990s, he began working on the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, a project that later inspired him and other colleagues to develop the idea for the Dark Energy Survey.

    SDSS Telescope at Apache Point Observatory, near Sunspot NM, USA, Altitude 2,788 meters (9,147 ft)

    “My career has been partly a migration or expansion from theory to observations,” Frieman said. “Though I still think of myself as a lapsed or recovering theorist. Over that evolution, I have become involved with larger and larger international collaborations.”

    Frieman takes over as head of the Particle Physics Division from Fermilab scientist Patty McBride, who will become deputy spokesperson of the Compact Muon Solenoid experiment, one of the two major ongoing experiments at Europe’s Large Hadron Collider.

    CERN CMS Higgs Event


    CERN/CMS Detector

    The Particle Physics Division is home to a number of major efforts at Fermilab, including as an anchor to the U.S. participation in and contribution to the Compact Muon Solenoid experiment.

    Frieman said one of his main focuses is going to be working with the scientific staff to create a new vision for how to probe cosmic phenomena such as dark energy, dark matter and cosmic inflation, areas in which he has a wealth of experience.

    Dark Matter Research

    Universe map Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS) 2dF Galaxy Redshift Survey

    Scientists studying the cosmic microwave background hope to learn about more than just how the universe grew—it could also offer insight into dark matter, dark energy and the mass of the neutrino.

    Dark matter cosmic web and the large-scale structure it forms The Millenium Simulation, V. Springel et al

    Dark Matter Particle Explorer China

    DEAP Dark Matter detector, The DEAP-3600, suspended in the SNOLAB deep in Sudbury’s Creighton Mine

    LUX Dark matter Experiment at SURF, Lead, SD, USA

    ADMX Axion Dark Matter Experiment, U Uashington

    Inflation

    4
    Alan Guth, from Highland Park High School and M.I.T., who first proposed cosmic inflation

    HPHS Owls

    Lambda-Cold Dark Matter, Accelerated Expansion of the Universe, Big Bang-Inflation (timeline of the universe) Date 2010 Credit: Alex MittelmannColdcreation

    Alan Guth’s notes:
    5

    “I’m looking forward to the excitement of creating that plan and putting the laboratory on a good path toward its future in the cosmic frontier,” he said.

    The division also leads the laboratory’s muon program, and it works to answer questions about dark energy, dark matter and the cosmic microwave background [CMB].

    FNAL Muon G-2 studio

    CMB per ESA/Planck


    ESA/Planck 2009 to 2013

    In support of these scientific efforts, Frieman said, the division has a large complement of people conducting technical and engineering work as well as research and development towards new sorts of technologies for high-energy physics experiments.

    “It’s quite a broad portfolio, and part of the division head’s responsibilities is managing all of that effort,” Frieman said. “I’m hoping to enable people to accomplish the different objectives of each of those projects, which involve designing, building, operating and analyzing particle physics experiments, understanding them through theory, and interpreting and providing context for them.”

    To Frieman, the most rewarding aspect of working in physics is working with people to make discoveries about the universe.

    “What I’m looking forward to most is the continued excitement of discovery,” Frieman said. “It’s why many of us go into science. Increasingly we see that science, and in particular big science like particle physics, has become a real team or even community effort. And these communities face significant challenges. I see a large part of my job as fostering a positive environment in which this community can thrive so that people can do their best work and make fundamental discoveries. We’re making progress here every day, and that’s quite exciting.”

    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 9:38 pm on May 10, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Primed for a quantum leap in research", , U Chicago   

    From University of Chicago: “Primed for a quantum leap in research” 

    U Chicago bloc

    From University of Chicago

    5.10.18
    Louise Lerner

    UChicago scientists and engineers at forefront of technology revolution.

    1
    Photo courtesy of Kevin Satzinger

    Since being proposed a half-century ago, quantum computing has been confined to science fiction and the daydreams of physicists.

    Then that all changed.

    “In the last decade, the field of quantum information science has rapidly expanded beyond fundamental research toward real-world applications,” said Prof. David Awschalom of the Institute for Molecular Engineering at the University of Chicago.

    Behind the scenes, a number of breakthroughs have made it possible for scientists to encode and manipulate information in quantum systems, which behave according to the strange laws of quantum mechanics. Today, university scientists like those at the IME are fleshing out the fundamental rules of controlling such systems, while Google, IBM, Microsoft and Intel are pouring millions of dollars in a race to build those concepts into working computers.


    Scientists at the University of Chicago’s Institute for Molecular Engineering are exploring a vast new field made possible by the ability to manipulate quantum systems.
    (Video by UChicago Creative)

    Quantum computers should be able to solve certain problems much faster than current computers. Because they naturally process multiple possibilities in parallel, it’s thought they could speed up searches for new pharmaceuticals, improve batteries and find greener ways to make chemicals. (They’re also of significant interest to governments because such computers might be able to factor the large numbers that currently encrypt the world’s financial, political and military secrets.)

    But computing isn’t the only way to tap quantum quirks. Scientists at UChicago are shaping a vast new field made possible by our growing ability to manipulate quantum systems. In fact, of the major quantum technologies, researchers see computers as the furthest out to achieve. Before then, there are possibilities for innately secure communication and precise navigation systems. Quantum sensors might find hidden underground oil pockets, improve earthquake monitoring, unravel the structure of single molecules or peek at the busy dance of proteins inside a cell.

    2
    A UChicago team accidentally discovered a new way of using light to draw and erase quantum circuits. (Artist’s rendition by Peter Allen)

    “The Institute for Molecular Engineering is looking 10 or 15 years down the line,” said Matthew Tirrell, the founding Pritzker Director and dean of the Institute for Molecular Engineering. “While Google and Intel are working to build prototype systems, we need to lay down a scientific foundation of understanding for these quantum technologies, and to do that, we are building an institute that brings together experts with deep knowledge in a variety of adjacent fields.”

    The right ingredients for discovery

    The IME is uniquely positioned to tackle the science from which quantum technologies will emerge. In addition to its state-of-the-art Pritzker Nanofabrication Facility, the institute works closely with UChicago’s two affiliated national laboratories, Argonne National Laboratory and Fermilab; in fact, last year, the IME formed a hub called the Chicago Quantum Exchange to coordinate research among the three institutions. The institute is also tied with UChicago’s Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation to commercialize breakthroughs.

    The institute is set up to solve problems that span multiple scientific fields—encouraging researchers to leverage the wide range of expertise around them, which is key to quickly realizing the full potential of discoveries made in the lab.

    ___________________________________________________________

    “You need to lay down a scientific foundation of understanding for these quantum technologies, and to do that, you need a center that combines really deep knowledge in a variety of fields.”

    —Matt Tirrell, the founding Pritzker Director and dean of the Institute for Molecular Engineering

    “In the last decade, the field of quantum information science has rapidly expanded beyond fundamental research toward real-world applications.”

    —Prof. David Awschalom

    ___________________________________________________________

    For example: A few years ago, Awschalom’s research group discovered quantum behavior in a common material called silicon carbide. No one had expected to see it there; and no one could explain why it was happening. So they reached out to fellow researchers, including Giulia Galli, the Liew Family Professor of Electronic Structure and Simulations at the Institute for Molecular Engineering.

    “We met with Giulia, who is a theoretical physicist. Within a few months, she and her students came up with some clever modeling to explain the underlying behavior we observed,” Awschalom said. “Now we are collaborating with Andrew Cleland next door to start incorporating these quantum states into hybrid devices. There are now hundreds of potential ways to develop these materials into useful systems.”

    The result of all this is research that can more quickly spin up to become part of our lives. “Ultimately, we think quantum technologies will impact the world in many ways beyond computing,” said Awschalom.

    3
    Asst. Prof. Jonathan Simon makes “quantum Legos” out of photons to explore principles of quantum systems. (Photo by Jean Lachat)

    Leave your intuition at the door

    Quantum mechanics is how scientists describe the behavior of fundamental particles. The theory was built over the 20th century, and some of its central tenets were proposed by Einstein, though he was famously uneasy about their implications. Physicists originally began to test these theories by observing the behavior of particles, such as photons of light, which act both as waves and as particles. Pull on that thread, and you discover a universe that does not square with the world as we’re used to.

    “It’s very hard to develop a good intuition for quantum behavior,” Awschalom said, “because everything behaves so differently from the classical world we know.”

    According to quantum mechanics, objects can occupy different locations at the same time; they can go through walls; and they can be entangled with one another, acting as though they “know” what’s happening miles or even light-years away. And if you measure a quantum state, it can change. So scientists have to build systems that create, manipulate and move these particles, while studiously avoiding interacting with them more than strictly necessary.

    The property that sparked the idea for quantum computers is that particles can exist in two positions at the same time, a concept called “superposition.” You might be familiar with the binary language that underwrites all of today’s computers, which contains just two options: 0 and 1. A quantum computer could expand that language by encoding information that exists in more than one state at a time, which lets you attack questions very differently. Since nature behaves quantum-mechanically, at a certain point, we need a quantum computer to simulate those processes. Along with completely new computers comes a need for new algorithms: across the street from the IME, a $10 million NSF project headed by Fred Chong, the Seymour Goodman Professor in the Department of Computer Science, will design hardware and software to help realize the potential of quantum computing more rapidly.

    4
    IME scientists invented a configuration that can flip the state of a quantum bit, from ‘off’ to ‘on,’ 300 percent faster than conventional methods. (Artist’s rendition by Peter Allen)

    There are already some small systems of about five quantum bits (called qubits) that anyone can play with online. Within the year, some of the largest tech companies are expected to unveil working systems with 50 or more qubits.

    “Every time you add a qubit, you double the computer’s power, which gets you enormous power very quickly,” said Andrew Cleland, the John A. MacLean Sr. Professor for Molecular Engineering Innovation and Enterprise. “But it’s very hard to keep them all behaving the way you want.”

    The difficult bit

    Quantum systems are extremely sensitive. They get thrown out of alignment by the tiniest changes in temperature or magnetism, noise or someone walking by. “A major challenge in this field is to preserve the integrity of quantum signals in real-world devices,” Awschalom said.

    “Our really good systems now last for tens of microseconds,” said Asst. Prof. David Schuster. “But you can do a lot in that time.”

    5
    A quantum device known as the “0-Pi” circuit, the first of a new class of protected superconducting qubits being developed at the University of Chicago in the lab of Prof. David Schuster. (Courtesy of Nate Earnest and Abigail Shearrow)

    But quantum’s quirks are what make it interesting. While not being able to read your information without screwing everything up is frustrating, it makes it perfect for designing a hack-proof communication system: If someone eavesdrops, the information will be destroyed.

    Similarly, quantum systems’ tendency to respond to the least disturbances make them perfect sensors. “With quantum sensors, you are dealing with the absolute smallest amounts of energy, so you can sense things that other technologies cannot,” Cleland said.

    They could detect something as small as tiny shifts in gravity that indicate the ground is denser in one area than another—which could detect untapped pockets of oil or minerals or get us closer to predicting earthquakes. They could even potentially detect dark matter.

    Medicine is interested, too. Untangling the structure of proteins and cellular structures is central to making better pharmaceuticals, and it’s thought that quantum sensors could do this much faster and with better sensitivity. It could even one day peer inside the workings of our own cells. “Think of the possibilities for advancing biology and medicine if we can place nano-scale quantum sensors into living cells and observe their behavior in real time,” Awschalom said.

    Yet the applications will only come once scientists understand the underlying principles of how to properly control quantum systems. First they need to understand how to prevent magnetic fields from knocking such systems out quickly; how to make bigger systems hold together; and how to interface them with existing technology.

    “These are important questions for university scientists and engineers, because this underlying physics will ultimately determine the limits of quantum technologies,” Awschalom said. “To answer these questions, we need groups of computer scientists, engineers and physicists working together.”

    And as that science grows into full-fledged technology, the world will need a new generation of quantum engineers, Awschalom said. Another $1.5 million from NSF will fund an innovative program, headed by Awschalom and Harvard’s Evelyn Hu, that pairs graduate students to tackle specific problems along with mentors from both academia and industry.

    The field is exciting to work in, IME researchers said, especially for scientists who’ve seen the field evolving before their eyes. “When I was in grad school, this was all pretty pictures in textbooks, that you knew you couldn’t apply to anything in the real world,” Cleland said. “But the barriers started falling away, and now we’re not only actually doing those textbook examples, but going well beyond them.”

    See the full article here .

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  • richardmitnick 2:59 pm on April 10, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Computation Institute, U Chicago, UChicago Department of Computer Science, UChicago launches center for data science and computing research   

    From University of Chicago: “UChicago launches center for data science and computing research” 

    U Chicago bloc

    University of Chicago

    April 6, 2018
    Rob Mitchum

    1
    The new Center for Data and Applied Computing will be located in the renovated John Crerar Library. Illustration by Jennifer Fifield.

    The University of Chicago is launching the Center for Data and Applied Computing, a research center for developing new methods in computation and data analytics and applying them to ambitious projects across the full spectrum of science and scholarship.

    The Center for Data and Applied Computing, which opens this summer, will provide computationally focused, interdisciplinary projects at UChicago with resources, space and a network for collaboration on campus and around the world. The center will award seed funding to a select group of projects, house and provide administrative support to core projects with external funding, and organize workshops, talks and other gatherings that generate fresh ideas from UChicago faculty, researchers and students.

    “Building capacity for computation-based projects is essential to advance research, education and the impact of scholarly work in a wide range of fields,” said President Robert J. Zimmer. “Collaborative efforts using data science, artificial intelligence and other computing approaches are rapidly creating dramatic new opportunities for academic work as well as new entrepreneurial opportunities. The center will support and encourage transformative activities with these tools.”

    The center will work closely with the expanding UChicago Department of Computer Science, while sitting between departments and divisions, incubating data and compute-intensive applied research initiatives that cut across traditional boundaries. The center will be led by a faculty director and be located in the renovated John Crerar Library, which is scheduled to reopen in the fall.

    The new center builds on the successes of the Computation Institute, which will close later this year. The institute’s legacy is one of forward-looking projects, which built and managed technologies that enable global sharing of scientific data, applied high-performance computing to studies of the universe, genetics and climate change, and developed novel, data-driven tools for studying cities, public policy and the humanities. The institute was founded in 1999 to foster collaborative and applied computational research.

    “Over the last two decades, data and computing have transformed research, from traditionally data-intensive fields such as physics and astronomy to new territories such as the humanities and social sciences,” said Michael Franklin, the Liew Family Chair of Computer Science and senior adviser to the Provost on computation and data science. “The Computation Institute was essential in positioning the University of Chicago at the crest of this wave, creating new technologies and multidisciplinary strategies that accelerated discovery both here and around the world.”

    Upon its launch, the Center for Data and Applied Computing will host continuing research collaborations from the Computation Institute and other areas of campus. The inaugural group of projects will be selected by its faculty director and a steering committee made up of faculty members from across campus. The center also will provide opportunities for researchers from UChicago-affiliated laboratories such as Argonne National Laboratory, Fermilab and the Marine Biological Laboratory to participate in data science and computing collaborations with UChicago faculty.

    “As we expand computer and data science at the University, the center will be the primary interface for building new partnerships and projects that span departments and enable important discoveries,” Franklin said. “The center will help define the future of these cutting-edge approaches across the breadth of intellectual domains on campus.”

    See the full article here .

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  • richardmitnick 11:27 am on April 4, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , Scientists confirm water trapped inside diamonds deep below Earth’s surface, U Chicago   

    From University of Chicago: “Scientists confirm water trapped inside diamonds deep below Earth’s surface” 

    U Chicago bloc

    University of Chicago

    March 30, 2018
    Karen Mellen

    1
    Researchers working at Argonne National Laboratory have identified a form of water trapped within diamonds that crystallized deep in the Earth’s mantle. (Pictured: Rough diamond in kimberlite.) Copyright Getty Images.

    Water occurs naturally as far as at least 250 miles below the Earth’s surface, according to a study published in Science last week by researchers from the University of Chicago and others. The discovery, which relies on extremely bright X-ray beams from the Advanced Photon Source at Argonne National Laboratory, could change our understanding of how water circulates deep in the Earth’s mantle and how heat escapes from the lower regions of our planet.


    ANL/APS

    The researchers identified a form of water known as Ice-VII, which was trapped within diamonds that crystallized deep in the Earth’s mantle. This is the first time Ice-VII has been discovered in a natural sample, making the compound a new mineral accepted by the International Mineralogical Association.

    The study is the latest in a long line of research projects at the Advanced Photon Source, a massive X-ray facility used by thousands of researchers every year, which have shed light on the composition and makeup of the deep Earth. Humans cannot explore these regions directly, so the Advanced Photon Source lets them use high-powered X-ray beams to analyze inclusions in diamonds formed in the deep Earth.

    2
    UChicago researchers involved in the work at Argonne’s Advanced Photon Source included (from left): Vitali Prakapenka, Tony Lanzirotti, Matt Newville, Eran Greenberg and Dongzhou Zhang. (Photo by Rick Fenner / Argonne National Laboratory).

    “We are interested in those inclusions because they tell us about the chemical composition and conditions in the deep Earth when the diamond was formed,” said Antonio Lanzirotti, a UChicago research associate professor and co-author on the study.

    In this case, researchers analyzed rough, uncut diamonds mined from regions in China and Africa. Using an optical microscope, mineralogists first identified inclusions, or impurities, which must have formed when the diamond crystallized. But to positively identify the composition of these inclusions, mineralogists needed a stronger instrument: the University of Chicago’s GeoSoilEnviroCARS’s beam lines at the Advanced Photon Source.

    Thanks to the very high brightness of the X-rays, which are a billion times more intense than typical X-ray machines, scientists can determine the molecular or atomic makeup of specimens that are only micrometers across. When the beam of X-rays hits the molecules of the specimen, they scatter into unique patterns that reveal their molecular makeup.

    What the team identified was surprising: water, in the form of ice.

    The composition of the water is the same as the water that we drink and use every day, but in a cubic crystalline form—the result of the extremely high pressure of the diamond.

    This form of water, Ice-VII, was created in the lab decades ago, but this study was the first to confirm that it also forms naturally. Because of the pressure required for diamonds to form, the scientists know that these specimens formed between 410 and 660 kilometers (250 to 410 miles) below the Earth’s surface.

    The researchers said the significance of the study is profound because it shows that flowing water is present much deeper below the Earth’s surface than originally thought. Going forward, the results raise a number of important questions about how water is recycled in the Earth and how heat is circulated. Oliver Tschauner, the lead author on the study and a mineralogist at University of Nevada in Las Vegas, said the discovery can help scientists create new, more accurate models of what’s going on inside the Earth, specifically how and where heat is generated under the Earth’s crust. This may help scientists better understand one of the driving mechanisms for plate tectonics.

    ___________________________________________________________
    “[T]hanks to the amazing technical capabilities of the Advanced Photon Source, this team of researchers was able to pinpoint and study the exact area on the diamonds that trapped the water”
    Stephen Streiffer, associate laboratory director for photon sciences
    ___________________________________________________________

    “This wasn’t easy to find,” said Vitali Prakapenka, a UChicago research professor and a co-author of the study. “People have been searching for this kind of inclusion for a long time.”

    For now, the team is wondering whether the mineral Ice-VII will be renamed, now that it is officially a mineral. This is not the first mineral to be identified thanks to research done at the Advanced Photon Source GSECARS beamlines: Bridgmanite, the Earth’s most abundant mineral and a high-density form of magnesium iron silicate, was researched extensively there before it was named. Tschauner was a lead author on that study, too.

    “In this study, thanks to the amazing technical capabilities of the Advanced Photon Source, this team of researchers was able to pinpoint and study the exact area on the diamonds that trapped the water,” said Stephen Streiffer, Argonne associate laboratory director for photon sciences and director of the Advanced Photon Source. “That area was just a few microns wide. To put that in context, a human hair is about 75 microns wide.

    “This research, enabled by partners from the University of Chicago and the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, among other institutions, is just the latest example of how the APS is a vital tool for researchers across scientific disciplines,” he said.

    Other GSECARS co-authors are Eran Greenberg, Dongzhou Zhang and Matt Newville.

    In addition to the University of Chicago and UNLV, other institutions cited in the study include the California Institute of Technology, China University of Geosciences, the University of Hawaii at Manoa and the Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto. Data also was collected at Carnegie Institute of Washington’s High Pressure Collaborative Access Team at the Advanced Photon Source and the Advanced Light Source at Lawrence Berkeley National Lab.

    LBNL/ALS

    LBNL Advanced Light Source storage ring

    See the full article here .

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  • richardmitnick 2:49 pm on March 27, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , Quantum systems, U Chicago   

    From University of Chicago: “UChicago scientists build trap to make tiny packages of light ‘collide’” 

    U Chicago bloc

    University of Chicago

    March 27, 2018
    Louise Lerner

    Study examines how to manipulate photons for quantum engineering.

    1
    Asst. Prof. Jonathan Simon with the photon collider—the blue light is reflected by a precisely arranged set of mirrors to manipulate individual photons so that they ‘collide’ with one another. Photo by Jean Lachat.

    The universe is illuminated via photons, the tiny individual particles that make up light, but they don’t interact with each other. To make them see the light, a team of University of Chicago physicists built a trap to help photons bounce off each other.

    Their photon collider, described in the March 19 edition of Nature Physics, is the latest effort to make photons behave like other particles such as electrons—a step toward greater understanding and control of quantum systems, which may one day manifest as technology with new properties.

    Quantum systems behave according to the strange laws that govern the smallest particles in the universe, like electrons. Scientists are increasingly interested in exploring new ways to harness the particles’ odd behaviors, like being in two states at once, and then choosing one only when measured.

    Jonathan Simon, the Neubauer Family Assistant Professor of Physics and the James Franck Institute, is interested in how walls dividing matter and light begin to break down at this scale. Most electronic systems use electrons as the moving parts, but photons can display quantum properties just as easily as electrons—and photons’ quirks could both offer advantages as technologies and serve as models to understand the more slippery electrons. So his team wants to manipulate and stack photons to build matter out of light.

    3
    (From left): Asst. Prof. Jonathan Simon, graduate student Ningyuan Jia and postdoctoral scholar Logan Clark with the photon collider. (Photo by Jean Lachat).

    “Essentially we want to make photon systems into a kind of quantum Legos—blown-up materials that you can more easily study and tease out basic quantum design principles,” said Simon, who is also a fellow of the Institute for Molecular Engineering.

    But because photons have no mass, no charge and no chill—they always want to travel at the speed of light—making them behave like other particles takes some delicate finagling.

    Two years ago, Simon’s lab figured out a way to make photons behave as though they were in a magnetic field. The next challenge was to make photons react to each others’ presence, which light normally doesn’t.

    In their lab, the scientists shine a weak laser to send a photon into a trap: a series of mirrors that keep it continuously bouncing around inside. The photon interacts with a cloud of rubidium atoms that are prepared so that once any atom in the cloud absorbs a photon, no other atom can. This repels other incoming photons behind them—as though they were “colliding.”

    This offers a new way to understand some of the more poorly understood quantum properties, like entanglement—the state in which two particles become linked and share the same state even at great distances.

    4
    Scientists use a weak laser to send a photon into a series of mirrors, which keeps the photon continuously bouncing around inside. (Photo by Jean Lachat).

    “We don’t have much intuition about what kinds of entanglement lead to which properties,” Simon said, “so if we can understand an analogous system, that could give us some insight.”

    There’s also interest in using photon systems for ultra-secure communications and to make computers. The team’s next step, Simon said, is to combine this setup with their previous one, to produce a set of photons that both interact with each other and with magnetic fields.

    The first author on the study was UChicago graduate student Ningyuan Jia. Other co-authors were graduate students Albert Ryou (now at the University of Washington), Nathan Schine and Alexandros Georgakopoulos, as well as postdoctoral scholars Ariel Sommer (now at Lehigh University) and Logan Clark.

    See the full article here .

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  • richardmitnick 8:52 am on March 1, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , U Chicago   

    From University of Chicago: “UChicago scientists to lead $10 million NSF ‘expedition’ for practical quantum computing” 

    U Chicago bloc

    University of Chicago

    February 27, 2018
    Rob Mitchum

    1
    A multimode resonator used to store large numbers of qubits, the fundamental component of a quantum computer. Photo by Nate Earnest/David Schuster Laboratory

    2
    To operate, quantum computers require temperatures near absolute zero, conditions created by a dilution refrigerator. Photo by Nate Earnest/David Schuster Laboratory.

    University of Chicago computer scientists will lead a $10 million “expedition” into the burgeoning field of quantum computing, bringing applications of the nascent technology for computer science, physics, chemistry and other fields at least a decade closer to practical use.

    Quantum computers harness the unique properties of quantum physics in machines that scientists hope will eventually perform complex calculations that are prohibitively slow or even impossible for today’s computers. In recent months, companies such as IBM, Intel and Google have unveiled new quantum computing prototypes approaching 50 quantum bits—or “qubits”—a new milestone in the race for machines capable of producing unprecedented discoveries.

    Yet despite these advances, there remains a wide gap between the quantum designs currently in use and the algorithms necessary to make full use of their power. The new, multi-institutional Enabling Practical-Scale Quantum Computing project, funded by the National Science Foundation’s Expeditions in Computing program, will bridge this gap through the co-design of hardware and software that helps scientists realize the potential of quantum computing more rapidly. Expeditions are the largest single-project investments made by the NSF and represent the most visionary and high-impact research in computer science.

    “We want to close the gap enough that we can do something promising with these machines,” said Fred Chong, the Seymour Goodman Professor in the Department of Computer Science at the University of Chicago and lead investigator on the project. “What we aim to do is to make quantum algorithms and machines meet, in a useful way, 10 or more years earlier than they would otherwise—five years from now instead of 15 years from now.”

    Uniting experts in algorithms, software, computer architecture and education from UChicago, MIT, Princeton, Georgia Tech and the University of California, Santa Barbara, EPiQC will develop these elements in tandem to take full advantage of new quantum machines. The collaboration will also establish a community of academic and industry partners and create new educational programs for students from elementary school to graduate school, training the next generation of quantum computer scientists.

    “Without a coordinated effort such as EPiQC, what’s going to happen is these computers will come out and no one will be able to program them, and they’ll need a much larger machine in order to do the computation that they want to do,” said Diana Franklin, director of computer science education at UChicago STEM Education and a research associate professor at UChicago. “It makes it so that practical quantum computers can be released so much earlier than they would be otherwise.”

    Missing pieces in quantum computing

    The promise of quantum computing lies in the ability of qubits to occupy a “superposition” of states, rather than the binary 1 or 0 of classical computing bits. Due to this difference, each additional qubit doubles the computing power of a machine, producing exponential gains that could eventually push quantum computers past the capabilities of today’s largest supercomputers. Scientists could then use these machines to run simulations and solve equations too complex for classical computers, leading to new discoveries in drug and material design, agriculture, cryptography and transportation optimization.

    However, many of the algorithms designed thus far to exploit these quantum advantages require the use of much more powerful machines than will be available in the near future. Scientists also lack the software needed to adapt these algorithms for practical use on actual machines, as well as the infrastructure tools necessary for programming these new technologies.

    “The big missing piece in quantum computing is what can we do with it that’s useful,” Chong said. “We want to think about it in very practical terms. What happens when you have a small number of devices, you can only run them for a short amount of time, and you have noise and errors—will the algorithms work then, and how can we change them to make them work better? And how can we change the machine to make the algorithms work better?”

    The project’s education and outreach efforts will focus on exposing students of all ages to quantum concepts and principles, preparing them for the new approaches needed to program and use quantum computers. The collaboration also will engage partners from industry and other universities to form a consortium that can share research ideas and new tools as they are developed.

    “EPiQC will play an essential role in researching efficient co-design of algorithms, software and devices, as well as creating tools to put quantum in front of a wider audience for even greater quantum programming creativity, and eventual breakthrough quantum applications,” said Jay Gambetta, manager of quantum information and computation at IBM Research. “EPiQC will also develop curricula to help train a much-needed workforce to drive quantum computing forward.”

    The EPiQC project will leverage substantial investments by the University of Chicago in computer science, including a major faculty hiring initiative and new facilities for computer and data science. The project also will coordinate with UChicago STEM Education and the Chicago Quantum Exchange, a partnership of UChicago, Argonne National Laboratory and Fermi National Laboratory for advancing academic and industrial efforts in the science and engineering of quantum information. Additional UChicago faculty on the project include John Reppy, professor in the Department of Computer Science; and David Schuster, assistant professor in the Department of Physics.

    “Part of what we want to do is not only produce tools and educate people and help the community grow, but also help people appreciate that there are some really important problems to be solved here, and inspire people to work on them,” Chong said. “It’s really one of our core missions to build a research community with enough critical mass to spur innovation and realize the potential of this incredibly promising computing technology.”

    See the full article here .

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  • richardmitnick 2:02 pm on February 9, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Astrophysicists settle century-old cosmic debate on magnetism of planets and stars, , , , OMEGA Laser Facility in Rochester N.Y, U Chicago   

    From University of Chicago: “Astrophysicists settle century-old cosmic debate on magnetism of planets and stars” 

    U Chicago bloc

    University of Chicago

    February 9, 2018
    Rob Mitchum

    Laser experiments verify ‘turbulent dynamo’ theory of how cosmic magnetic fields are created

    1
    Three-dimensional FLASH simulation of the experimental platform, performed on the Mira supercomputer. Shown are renderings of the simulated magnetic fields before the flows collide. Courtesy of the Flash Center for Computational Science.

    The universe is highly magnetic, with everything from stars to planets to galaxies producing their own magnetic fields. Astrophysicists have long puzzled over these surprisingly strong and long-lived fields, with theories and simulations seeking a mechanism that explains their generation.

    Using one of the world’s most powerful laser facilities, a team led by University of Chicago scientists experimentally confirmed one of the most popular theories for cosmic magnetic field generation: the turbulent dynamo. By creating a hot turbulent plasma the size of a penny, which lasts a few billionths of a second, the researchers recorded how the turbulent motions can amplify a weak magnetic field to the strengths of those observed in our sun, distant stars and galaxies.

    The paper, published this week in Nature Communications, is the first laboratory demonstration of a theory explaining the magnetic field of numerous cosmic bodies, which has been debated by physicists for nearly a century. Using the FLASH physics simulation code, developed by the Flash Center for Computational Science at UChicago, the researchers designed an experiment conducted at the OMEGA Laser Facility in Rochester, N.Y. to recreate turbulent dynamo conditions.

    U Rochester Omega Laser

    Confirming decades of numerical simulations, the experiment revealed that turbulent plasma could dramatically boost a weak magnetic field up to the magnitude observed by astronomers in stars and galaxies.

    “We now know for sure that turbulent dynamo exists, and that it’s one of the mechanisms that can actually explain magnetization of the universe,” said Petros Tzeferacos, research assistant professor of astronomy and astrophysics at the University of Chicago and associate director of the Flash Center. “This is something that we hoped we knew, but now we do.”

    A mechanical dynamo produces an electric current by rotating coils through a magnetic field. In astrophysics, dynamo theory proposes the reverse: the motion of electrically-conducting fluid creates and maintains a magnetic field. In the early 20th century, physicist Joseph Larmor proposed that such a mechanism could explain the magnetism of the Earth and sun, inspiring decades of scientific debate and inquiry.

    While numerical simulations demonstrated that turbulent plasma can generate magnetic fields at the scale of those observed in stars, planets and galaxies, creating a turbulent dynamo in the laboratory was far more difficult. Confirming the theory requires producing plasma at an extremely high temperature and volatility to produce the sufficient turbulence to fold, stretch and amplify the magnetic field.

    To design an experiment that creates those conditions, Tzeferacos and colleagues at UChicago and the University of Oxford ran hundreds of two- and three-dimensional simulations with FLASH on the Mira supercomputer at Argonne National Laboratory.

    MIRA IBM Blue Gene Q supercomputer at the Argonne Leadership Computing Facility

    The final setup involved blasting two penny-sized pieces of foil with powerful lasers, propelling two jets of plasma through grids and into collision with each other, creating turbulent fluid motion.

    3

    “People have dreamed of doing this experiment with lasers for a long time, but it really took the ingenuity of this team to make this happen,” said Donald Lamb, the Robert A. Millikan Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus in Astronomy and Astrophysics and director of the Flash Center. “This is a huge breakthrough.”

    The team also used FLASH simulations to develop two independent methods for measuring the magnetic field produced by the plasma: proton radiography, the subject of a recent paper [AIP]from the FLASH group, and polarized light, based on how astronomers measure the magnetic fields of distant objects. Both measurements tracked the growth in mere nanoseconds of the magnetic field from its weak initial state to over 100 kiloGauss—stronger than a high-resolution MRI scanner and a million times stronger than the magnetic field of the Earth.

    “This work opens up the opportunity to experimentally verify ideas and concepts about the origin of magnetic fields in the universe that have been proposed and studied theoretically over the better part of a century,” said Fausto Cattaneo, professor of astronomy and astrophysics at the University of Chicago and a co-author of the paper.

    Now that a turbulent dynamo can be created in a laboratory, scientists can explore deeper questions about its function: How quickly does the magnetic field increase in strength? How strong can the field get? How does the magnetic field alter the turbulence that amplified it?

    “It’s one thing to have well-developed theories, but it’s another thing to really demonstrate it in a controlled laboratory setting where you can make all these kinds of measurements about what’s going on,” Lamb said. “Now that we can do it, we can poke it and probe it.”

    In addition to Tzeferacos and Lamb, UChicago co-authors on the paper include Carlo Graziani and Gianluca Gregori, who is also professor of physics at the University of Oxford. The research was funded by the European Research Council and the U.S. Department of Energy.

    See the full article here .

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