Tag Archives: fermilab

Scholars and scientists explore factors underlying serendipitous discoveries

What do Velcro, Tang, penicillin, the structure of DNA and the World Wide Web have in common?

They all involved serendipitous discoveries—chance discoveries made by alert, curious scientists who were looking for other things when they happened across a fortuitous finding. Rather than ignoring their accidental discoveries, these curious, open-minded scientists harnessed their luck. “Chance favors only the prepared mind,” as Louis Pasteur put it. (more…)

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Nobel in Physics: A long time in the making

Nearly 50 years of experiments and billions of dollars in equipment followed the prediction of the Higgs mechanism by theoretical physicists in 1964. Ulrich Heintz and Meenakshi Narain, two of the particle physicists at Brown University who worked on experiments at Fermilab and at CERN, note that the successful search for the Higgs was caried on by thousands of researchers.

The Nobel Prize awarded today to Francois Englert and Peter Higgs was a long time in the making. The Higgs mechanism was invented almost 50 years ago, and ever since the standard model emerged as the explanation of everything in particle physics that we have observed so far. The search for the Higgs boson was a quest that heated up for particle physics experimenters with every new facility that came online. Some of us (Heintz, Narain) looked for it in their thesis experiment at the Cornell Electron Storage Ring in the 1980s. Then the search moved to European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) to the Large Electron Positron Collider, and back again to the Tevatron at Fermilab near Chicago, where we (Cutts, Heintz, Landsberg, Narain) were part of the discovery of the top quark in 1995 with the D-Zero experiment. (more…)

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Successful Test of New U.S. Magnet Puts Large Hadron Collider on Track for Major Upgrade

U.S. Department of Energy national laboratories – including Berkeley Lab – collaborate to build the new magnets CERN needs to increase LHC luminosity by an order of magnitude

The U.S. LHC Accelerator Program (LARP) has successfully tested a powerful superconducting quadrupole magnet that will play a key role in developing a new beam focusing system for CERN’s Large Hadron Collider (LHC). This advanced system, together with other major upgrades to be implemented over the next decade, will allow the LHC to produce 10 times more high-energy collisions than it was originally designed for.

Dubbed HQ02a, the latest in LARP’s series of High-Field Quadrupole magnets is wound with cables of the brittle but high-performance superconductor niobium tin (Nb3Sn). Compared to the final-focus quadrupoles presently in place at the LHC, which are made with niobium titanium, HQ02a has a larger aperture and superconducting coils designed to operate at a higher magnetic field. In a recent test at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab), HQ02a achieved all its challenging objectives. (more…)

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New dark matter detector begins search for invisible particles

Scientists heard their first pops last week in an experiment that searches for signs of dark matter in the form of tiny bubbles.

They will need to analyze them further in order to discern whether dark matter caused any of the COUPP-60 experiment’s first bubbles at the SNOLAB underground science laboratory in Ontario, Canada. Dark matter accounts for nearly 90 percent of all matter in the universe, yet it is invisible to telescopes.

“Our goal is to make the most sensitive detector to see signals of particles that we don’t understand,” said Hugh Lippincott, a postdoctoral scientist with Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory. Lippincott has spent much of the past several months leading the installation of the one-of-a-kind detector at SNOLAB, 1.5 miles underground. (more…)

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World’s Most Powerful Digital Camera Begins Hunt for Dark Energy

Eight billion years ago, rays of light from distant galaxies began their long journey to Earth. That ancient starlight has now found its way to a mountaintop in Chile, where the newly constructed Dark Energy Camera, the most powerful sky-mapping machine ever created, has captured and recorded it for the first time.

That light may hold within it the answer to one of the biggest mysteries in physics: Why the expansion of the universe is speeding up. (more…)

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Greg Landsberg: Seeking the Higgs boson

Greg Landsberg, professor of physics at Brown, is the physics coordinator for the Compact Muon Solenoid (CMS) at CERN in Switzerland, part of a Brown team that includes professors David Cutts, Ultich Heintz, and Meenakshi Narain. The giant instrument’s primary mission is finding the Higgs boson, a particle whose existence would confirm the best guess physicists have made about why things have mass.

On July 4, Landsberg and his colleagues will reveal the latest results of their search. Anything could happen when Greg Landsberg and, including an announcement that the Higgs has been found or that it has been ruled out, sending theorists back to the whiteboard. Landsberg spoke by Skype with science news officer David Orenstein on June 26 as CERN physicists were preparing for their press conference. (more…)

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Fast Times in Physics

A U physicist will help determine if neutrinos can outrace light

Back in 2007, a physics experiment clocked elusive subatomic particles called neutrinos going faster than light.

That wasn’t supposed to happen. If the speed of light in a vacuum—denoted “c” by physicists—isn’t the universal speed limit, it would mean that Einstein put the wrong number in his famous E=mc2 equation.

University of Minnesota physicist Marvin Marshak was part of the experiment, called MINOS. It clocked beams of neutrinos shot from Fermilab, a national physics lab near Chicago, to a detector 457 miles away in the Soudan Underground Laboratory in northern Minnesota. (more…)

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