Fermilab Achieves Milestone Beam Power for Neutrino Experiments

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory has achieved a significant milestone for proton beam power. On Jan. 24, the laboratory’s flagship particle accelerator delivered a 700-kilowatt proton beam over one hour at an energy of 120 billion electronvolts.

The Main Injector accelerator provides a massive number of protons to create particles called neutrinos, elusive particles that influence how our universe has evolved. Neutrinos are the second-most abundant matter particles in our universe. Trillions pass through us every second without leaving a trace.

Because they are so abundant, neutrinos can influence all kinds of processes, such as the formation of galaxies or supernovae. Neutrinos might also be the key to uncovering why there is more matter than antimatter in our universe. They might be one of the most valuable players in the history of our universe, but they are hard to capture and this makes them difficult to study.

“We push always for higher and higher beam powers at accelerators, and we are lucky our accelerator colleagues live for a challenge,” said Steve Brice, head of Fermilab’s Neutrino Division. “Every neutrino is an opportunity to study our universe further.”

With more beam power, scientists can provide more neutrinos in a given amount of time. At Fermilab, that means more opportunities to study these subtle particles at the lab’s three major neutrino experiments: MicroBooNE, MINERvA and NOvA.

“Neutrino experiments ask for the world, if they can get it. And they should,” said Dave Capista, accelerator scientist at Fermilab. Even higher beam powers will be needed for the future international Deep Underground Neutrino Experiment, to be hosted by Fermilab. DUNE, along with its supporting Long-Baseline Neutrino Facility, is the largest new project being undertaken in particle physics anywhere in the world since the Large Hadron Collider.

“It’s a negotiation process: What is the highest beam power we can reasonably achieve while keeping the machine stable, and how much would that benefit the neutrino researcher compared to what they had before?” said Fermilab accelerator scientist Mary Convery.

“This step-by-step journey was a technical challenge and also tested our understanding of the physics of high-intensity beams,” said Fermilab Chief Accelerator Officer Sergei Nagaitsev. “But by reaching this ambitious goal, we show how great the team of physicists, engineers, technicians and everyone else involved is.” The 700-kilowatt beam power was the goal declared for 2017 for Fermilab’s accelerator-based experimental program.

Particle accelerators are complex machines with many different parts that change and influence the particle beam constantly. One challenge with high-intensity beams is that they are relatively large and hard to handle. Particles in accelerators travel in groups referred to as bunches.

Roughly one hundred billion protons are in one bunch, and they need their space. The beam pipes – through which particles travel inside the accelerator – need to be big enough for the bunches to fit. Otherwise particles will scrape the inner surface of the pipes and get lost in the equipment.

Such losses, as they’re called, need to be controlled, so while working on creating the conditions to generate a high-power beam, scientists also study where particles get lost and how it happens. They perform a number of engineering feats that allow them to catch the wandering particles before they damage something important in the accelerator tunnel.

To generate high-power beams, the scientists and engineers at Fermilab use two accelerators in parallel. The Main Injector is the driver: It accelerates protons and subsequently smashes them into a target to create neutrinos. Even before the protons enter the Main Injector, they are prepared in the Recycler.

The Fermilab accelerator complex can’t create big bunches from the get-go, so scientists create the big bunches by merging two smaller bunches in the Recycler. A small bunch of protons is sent into the Recycler, where it waits until the next small bunch is sent in to join it. Imagine a small herd of cattle, and then acquiring a new herd of the same size. Rather than caring for them separately, you allow the two herds to join each other on the big meadow to form a big herd. Now you can handle them as one herd instead of two.

In this way Fermilab scientists double the number of particles in one bunch. The big bunches then go into the Main Injector for acceleration. This technique to increase the number of protons in each bunch had been used before in the Main Injector, but now the Recycler has been upgraded to be able to handle the process as well.

“The real bonus is having two machines doing the job,” said Ioanis Kourbanis, who led the upgrade effort. “Before we had the Recycler merging the bunches, the Main Injector handled the merging process, and this was time consuming. Now, we can accelerate the already merged bunches in the Main Injector and meanwhile prepare the next group in the Recycler. This is the key to higher beam powers and more neutrinos.”

Fermilab scientists and engineers were able to marry two advantages of the proton acceleration technique to generate the desired truckloads of neutrinos: increase the numbers of protons in each bunch and decrease the delivery time of those proton to create neutrinos.

“Attaining this promised power is an achievement of the whole laboratory,” Nagaitsev said. “It is shared with all who have supported this journey.”

The new heights will open many doors for the experiments, but no one will rest long on their laurels. The journey for high beam power continues, and new plans for even more beam power are already under way.

Reference: http://military-technologies.net/2017/01/26/fermilab-achieves-milestone-beam-power-for-neutrino-experiments/

Diamonds are Forever

Published on Nov 28, 2016

New technology has been developed that uses nuclear waste to generate electricity in a nuclear-powered battery. A team of physicists and chemists from the University of Bristol have grown a man-made diamond that, when placed in a radioactive field, is able to generate a small electrical current. The development could solve some of the problems of nuclear waste, clean electricity generation and battery life.

Press release: http://www.bristol.ac.uk/news/2016/november/diamond-power.html

See also: http://bigthink.com/philip-perry/scientists-turn-nuclear-waste-in-diamond-batteries-thatll-last-for-thousands-of-years

Asteroid, discovered yesterday, swept past

By Gianluca Masi in SPACE | November 2, 2016

Astronomers discovered asteroid 2016 VA on November 1, 2016, just hours before it passed within 0.2 times the moon’s distance of Earth.

The near-Earth asteroid 2016 VA was discovered by the Mt. Lemmon Sky Survey in Arizona (USA) on 1 Nov. 2016 and announced later the same day by the Minor Planet Center. The object was going to have a very close encounter with the Earth, at 0.2 times the moon’s distance – about 75,000 km [46,000 miles]. At Virtual Telescope Project we grabbed extremely spectacular images and a unique video showing the asteroid eclipsed by the Earth.

The image above is a 60-seconds exposure, remotely taken with “Elena” (PlaneWave 17?+Paramount ME+SBIG STL-6303E robotic unit) available at Virtual Telescope. The robotic mount tracked the extremely fast (570″/minute) apparent motion of the asteroid, so stars are trailing. The asteroid is perfectly tracked: it is the sharp dot in the center, marked with two white segments. At the imaging time, asteroid 2016 VA was at about 200,000 km [124,000 miles] from us and approaching. Its diameter should be around 12 meters or so.

During its fly-by, asteroid 2016 VA was also eclipsed by the Earth’s shadow. We covered the spectacular event, clearly capturing also the penumbra effects.

The movie below is an amazing document showing the eclipse. Each frame comes from a 5-seconds integration.

Asteroid 2016 VA eclipsed by Earth’s shadow. Image via Virtual Telescope Project.

The eclipse started around 23:23:56 UT and ended about at 23:34:46. To our knowledge, this is the first video ever of a complete eclipse of an asteroid. Some hot pixels are visible on the image. At the eclipse time, the asteroid was moving with an apparent motion of 1500″/minutes and it was at about 120,000 km [75,000 miles] from the Earth, on its approaching route. You can see here a simulation of the eclipse as if you were on the asteroid.

Click here to see this article at the Virtual Telescope Project

Help support The Virtual Telescope Project!

Bottom line: An asteroid called 2016 VA was discovered on November 1, 2016 and passed closest to Earth – within 0.2 times the moon’s distance – a few hours later. Gianluca Masi of the Virtual Telescope Project caught images of the asteroid as it swept by.


From Fins Into Hands: Scientists Discover a Deep Evolutionary Link

To help his readers fathom evolution, Charles Darwin asked them to consider their own hands.

“What can be more curious,” he asked, “than that the hand of a man, formed for grasping, that of a mole for digging, the leg of the horse, the paddle of the porpoise, and the wing of the bat, should all be constructed on the same pattern, and should include similar bones, in the same relative positions?”

Darwin had a straightforward explanation: People, moles, horses, porpoises and bats all shared a common ancestor that grew limbs with digits. Its descendants evolved different kinds of limbs adapted for different tasks. But they never lost the anatomical similarities that revealed their kinship.

As a Victorian naturalist, Darwin was limited in the similarities he could find. The most sophisticated equipment he could use for the task was a crude microscope. Today, scientists are carrying on his work with new biological tools. They are uncovering deep similarities that have been overlooked until now.

On Wednesday, a team of researchers at the University of Chicago reported that our hands share a deep evolutionary connection not only to bat wings or horse hooves, but also to fish fins.

The unexpected discovery will help researchers understand how our own ancestors left the water, transforming fins into limbs that they could use to move around on land.

To the naked eye, there is not much similarity between a human hand and the fin of, say, a goldfish. A human hand is at the end of an arm. It has bones that develop from cartilage and contain blood vessels. This type of tissue is called endochondral bone.

A goldfish grows just a tiny cluster of endochondral bones at the base of its fin. The rest of the fin is taken up by thin rays, which are made of an entirely different tissue called dermal bone. Dermal bone does not start out as cartilage and does not contain blood vessels.

These differences have long puzzled scientists. The fossil record shows that we share a common aquatic ancestor with ray-finned fish that lived some 430 million years ago. Four-limbed creatures with spines — known as tetrapods — had evolved by 360 million years ago and went on to colonize dry land.

Read more at http://mobile.nytimes.com/2016/08/18/science/from-fins-into-hands-scientists-discover-a-deep-evolutionary-link.html

Coordinating Exchanges for Learning

Were the contemporary scientific discoveries that were placed before you as a child in any way a catalyst for your own curiosities? As a youngster did you keen-fully observe the engineering of technology that was tooled for discovery? Did the Apollo or space shuttle orbiter missions inspire any meaning or perspective?  Are you a scientist, a citizen scientist?  Are more science professionals needed?

Childhood impressions are core components to who an  individual becomes. Positive influences by skilled and knowledgeable teachers, concerned even loving parents are paramount.

Although science is tractably understood through experience and the application of theories, the details are complicated, work and tenacity are required to reach any level of competence, as is a recursive process that takes years to master, the best practice being an early inception, suggesting 4th or 5th grades as optimal.

As a lot, elementary school teachers are amazing, passionate, empathetic educators who contribute directly to student successes.   They are excellent “conductors” orchestrating the development of knowledge across the disciplines, despite their lack of high proficiency at any of  the “oboe, violin, timpani, harp”, or any of the “instruments” they aptly “conduct”.

Middle school teachers build upon their colleagues base by applying their special areas of credentialed interest and skill for specific subjects, that is the mathematics teacher teaches math, the science teacher science, the music teacher music, the arts art.

Generally these teachers were trained at the bachelors level, were raised and attended nearby schools where education theories, psychology strategies, human behaviors were well studied, but elected to take a fewer rather than more science and mathematics courses.

Missing for many teachers is that detailed experience in, for example, the sciences, the associated physics or chemistry experiments, the engineering design and access to relevant applications, and or the technologies that have shaped human kind, say in biology.

Moreover, integrative strategies that rely on trans-disciplinarity where the dynamic of collaboration is used in solving relevant problems have few examples of successful implementation.

Helpful are the opportunities that any science, technology, engineering, or mathematics expert creates for students, particularly when in a collaboration with those teachers.

Traditional learning opportunities which align formally in the classroom are ideal, yet well implemented after-school programs continue to impress principals, teachers, parents, while inspiring selected students.

Needed is a coordination of professionals from companies such as John Deere, Sanford Engineering, Mortenson Construction, Moore Engineering, but also from North Dakota Universities and Colleges,   as well as from non-profits and for-profits which are practiced at informal learning strategies that include the Inspire Innovation Laboratory and Discover Express Kids.

As an example of an exchanged asset,  consider astronomy and astrophysics as an integrative topical strategy that is proven effective at sparking a middle school student’s scientific interests.

Lofting sophisticated instrumentation such as the Hubble Space Telescope into the heavens was an accomplishment built upon the successes and failures that extend from “choosing to go to the moon” by President Kennedy.

It was relatively recent that there was knowledge of other galaxies in the universe, that galaxies are clustered much the way stars are, that they collide, explode, evolve, all fascinating and a wonderful context to inspire students.

Providing tours of the solar system, the Milky Way galaxy, and beyond is a unique specialty of  the University of North Dakota’s Physics and Astronomy Department through an outreach project funded by the NSF-EPSCoR program.

In UND’s portable Elumenati Geodome, youngsters are treated to a highly engaging planetarium experience where craters on the moon, atmospheres on Earth and Mars, where solar system dynamics can be viewed in a 3D splendor.

Knowledge that such a program exists,  that a highly specialized and experienced professional can join in your North Dakota classroom through communications facilitated through the vehicle of the ND STEM Exchange is among its core functions.

Lining up, coordinating, managing, and assessing those opportunities is a developing role of the North Dakota STEM Exchange, a project being piloted by the North Dakota STEM Network.

For more information on the Exchange, please visit: http://ndstemexchange.com

Was Powerhouse: Heritage Garden and Amphitheater for Moorhead

About the Garden and Amphitheater

Designed by Rob Fischer, Kevin Johnson, and Su Legatt, the Heritage Garden for Moorhead will be located near the site of the decommissioned power plant along the Red River and adjacent to Woodlawn Park. Their plan seeks to recreate an environment that serves as an homage to the power plant while also acknowledging the important role it played in the development of Moorhead, MN. Its sculpted landscapes of low berms, garden beds, native plantings, and sculptural elements will draw people to the site and serve as a conduit between the river parkway and Woodlawn Park.

The artists aim to defy the perception that a former industrial site is not a suitable place for public use and enjoyment as well as defy the impact of repeated flooding of that area, which can make the riverside off limits for public use in years of spring flooding. Their concept of building a into the landscape also defies tendencies to forget our histories and the experiences of common people. To counteract forgetting, the artists are working with students in the Department of Art at Concordia College to gather both perennial plants and stories from Moorhead residents, focusing on neighborhoods near the power plant. Some plants may come from gardens that were left behind when houses recently were removed from the flood-prone riverside. These plants will find new homes in the Heritage Garden, and the recorded stories about the history of that area will be made available in the garden via QR codes.

The legacy of the power plant, which has provided power to Moorhead since 1896, will be made through concrete forms built into the new garden that echo the cement remnants at the plant. Machinery parts from the plant will be installed on the cement bases, becoming sculptural forms. The power plant is slated for demolition in summer 2014, and construction of the Heritage Garden will begin soon after.

The Heritage Garden will also include a new amenity for Moorhead, an earthen amphitheater, built into the hillside north of the main garden area. It will be used for events, such as musical performances and outdoor film screenings.

For four years, Plains Art Museum and the artists have collaborated with Moorhead Public Service, the City of Moorhead, Moorhead Parks and Recreation, Concordia College, and The Moorhead Power Plant Study Group to accomplish this new garden for Moorhead. The National Endowment for the Arts, Artplace America, the Bush Foundation, and Lake Region Arts Council have all provided support for this project.

Rob Fischer is a sculptor, living in Brooklyn, New York, and Park Rapids, Minnesota, whose work has been featured at the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles, the Corcoran Gallery in Washington, D.C., and many other galleries and museums. Based in Brooklyn and originally from Minneapolis, Kevin Johnson is a sculptor and public artist who has designed numerous public art projects, gardens, and rain gardens nationally. A resident of Moorhead, Su Legatt teaches photography and graphic design in the Department of Visual Arts at North Dakota State University. She works in socially engaged art as well as studio practices and has led numerous projects in our region.

Reference: http://plainsart.org/learn/defiant-gardens/heritage-garden-and-amphitheater-for-moorhead-2/

See also: http://www.inforum.com/news/3767083-council-shows-support-building-japanese-garden-old-moorhead-power-plant-site

Network Explores Industry Learning Exchanges

ND STEM Network manager Ryan Aasheim and the Praxis Strategy Group is developing a strategy for the ND STEM Network that includes establishing a STEM Industry Learning Exchange that will work to connect private industry and business with K12 schools, their teachers, and ultimately the learners, our North Dakota children.

Industry Learning Exchanges bring together educators, industry and other stakeholders in government and the non-profit sector to better align and galvanize efforts and resources to create North Dakota’s next generation STEM workforce.  Industry Learning Exchanges are public-private partnerships organized by career cluster that work to coordinate planning, investment and sharing of resources. Learning exchanges promote STEM careers and occupations and identify work place learning opportunities for students that fit their interests and aspirations.

Exchanges create an organizing structure for communications and coordination to better connect programs across the state in a similar career cluster while also tracking local and statewide needs and performance.  Industry participation ensures that STEM curricula reflect current and future skills and trends related to technology.   Successful, high performing programs can be replicated in other localities and/or scaled up for implementation statewide.

A Learning Exchange will be launched in seven identified industries areas below and led by the ND STEM Network to leverage a statewide network of businesses, employer associations, education partners, and other stakeholders. The exchanges would ideally be launched using state investment, but would be supported by investments and on-going commitments from public-private partners.  An initial effort would focus on three industries sectors for one year to build their network, further develop capacity for implementation, and demonstrate function as it leads to enhanced learning.

  1. Energy
  2. Aviation, Aerospace, UAS
  3. Agriculture & Biotech
  4. Software, Computing, & IT
  5. Medical, Health, Life sciences
  6. Manufacturing
  7. Creative Industries

Models for these learning exchanges exist elsewhere, most notably in Illinois:  STEM Learning Exchange.

Graphic: ND STEM Network STEM Industry Learning Exchange

Pilot project: http://ndstemexchange.com