Archive for Ciencia

LHC physicist takes on new type of collisions

A former Large Hadron Collider researcher brings his knowledge of high-energy collisions to a new EA SPORTS NHL hockey game.

After years of particle physics research—first for the D0 experiment at Fermilab near Chicago and later for the ATLAS experiment at CERN near Geneva—Michele Petteni faced a dilemma. He loved physics, but not academia.

“Academia is very competitive, and if you want to be successful, you have to be one-hundred-percent committed,” Petteni says. “After my postdoc, I realized going down the academic path was not for me.”

Petteni found the perfect compromise. He took a job as a software engineer with EA SPORTS and helped design the hockey game NHL 15, to be released on September 9 in the US and September 11 in Europe.

“It was a new opportunity to do physics, just not at a quantum level,” Petteni says. “We try to keep quantum mechanical effects out of video games.”

Petteni’s job was to help model the puck and players with more realistic geometries so that their interactions mirrored those of real hockey games.

“Previous versions of the game modeled the puck as a sphere, which has a perfectly symmetrical geometry and bounces in a very predictable way,” Petteni says. “But hockey pucks are cylinders, which move and interact completely differently than spheres. We wanted to develop new models in which the puck flicks and rotates in a way which is believable.”

Petteni and his team even went so far as to determine how the puck interacts with a player’s jersey and moves during a multi-player pile-ups.

“It really changes everything and gives you a much more realistic hockey experience,” Petteni says.

Petteni says his previous experiences working at Fermilab and CERN were invaluable: The coding, computational analysis and problem-solving skills he learned while working as a physicist translate almost directly into game design.

“We knew that we wanted to redo our puck physics, and the fact that Michele had physics experience made it a perfect fit,” says Sean Ramjagsingh, the lead producer for the game NHL 15. “Physics has been a huge part of the success of our franchise.”

In fact, Petteni wasn’t the first physicist hired by EA sports to help re-vamp the realism in their games. His team also contains a former string theorist and a former astrophysicist, as well as several engineers.

 

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LHC physicist takes on new type of collisions

A former Large Hadron Collider researcher brings his knowledge of high-energy collisions to a new EA SPORTS NHL hockey game.

After years of particle physics research—first for the D0 experiment at Fermilab near Chicago and later for the ATLAS experiment at CERN near Geneva—Michele Petteni faced a dilemma. He loved physics, but not academia.

“Academia is very competitive, and if you want to be successful, you have to be one-hundred-percent committed,” Petteni says. “After my postdoc, I realized going down the academic path was not for me.”

Petteni found the perfect compromise. He took a job as a software engineer with EA SPORTS and helped design the hockey game NHL 15, to be released on September 9 in the US and September 11 in Europe.

“It was a new opportunity to do physics, just not at a quantum level,” Petteni says. “We try to keep quantum mechanical effects out of video games.”

Petteni’s job was to help model the puck and players with more realistic geometries so that their interactions mirrored those of real hockey games.

“Previous versions of the game modeled the puck as a sphere, which has a perfectly symmetrical geometry and bounces in a very predictable way,” Petteni says. “But hockey pucks are cylinders, which move and interact completely differently than spheres. We wanted to develop new models in which the puck flicks and rotates in a way which is believable.”

Petteni and his team even went so far as to determine how the puck interacts with a player’s jersey and moves during a multi-player pile-ups.

“It really changes everything and gives you a much more realistic hockey experience,” Petteni says.

Petteni says his previous experiences working at Fermilab and CERN were invaluable: The coding, computational analysis and problem-solving skills he learned while working as a physicist translate almost directly into game design.

“We knew that we wanted to redo our puck physics, and the fact that Michele had physics experience made it a perfect fit,” says Sean Ramjagsingh, the lead producer for the game NHL 15. “Physics has been a huge part of the success of our franchise.”

In fact, Petteni wasn’t the first physicist hired by EA sports to help re-vamp the realism in their games. His team also contains a former string theorist and a former astrophysicist, as well as several engineers.

 

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El Futuro del Amazonas (documental completo)

El Futuro del Amazonas (documental completo)
Amazonia: Guardianes del FuturoVamos a asistir a algunos de los trabajos de campo más sorprendentes y eficaces de cuantos se están llevando a cabo para salvar la Amazonia.Seremos testigos de la pasión sentida y el compromiso adquirido por naturalistas que aman esta tierra, y que no están dispuestos a tirar la toalla, luchando día a día por mantener la vida del bosque tropical. Conoceremos a fondo a estas personas y a sus obras.Ornitólogos, ecologistas, conservacionistas, todos dispuestos a velar por la salud de la madre tierra amazónica en beneficio de todas las gentes del planeta.SUSCRÍBETE al canal y descubre los mundos y las culturas más fascinantes: http://goo.gl/vNINO4Síguenos también en: Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/NewAtlantisDocumentalesTwitter: https://twitter.com/NewAtlantisDocu
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A whole-Earth approach

Ecologist John Harte applies principles from his former life as a physicist to his work trying to save the planet.

Each summer for the past 25 years, ecologist John Harte has spent his mornings in a meadow on the western slope of the Rocky Mountains. He takes soil samples from a series of experimentally heated plots at the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory, using the resulting data to predict how responses of ecosystems to climate change will generate further heating of the climate.

Harte, a former theoretical physicist, studies ecological theory and the relationship between climates and ecosystems. He holds a joint professorship at UC Berkeley’s Energy Resources Group and the university’s Ecosystem Sciences Division. He says he is motivated by a desire to help save the planet and to solve complex ecological problems.

“John is a gifted naturalist and a great birdwatcher,” says Robert Socolow, a colleague and former physicist who transitioned to the environmental field at the same time. “John went into physics to combine his deep love of nature and his talent for mathematical analysis.”

Harte, who loved bird watching and nature as a child, also enjoyed physics and math, which his schoolteachers urged him to pursue. He received his undergraduate degree in physics from Harvard in 1961, and a PhD in theoretical physics from the University of Wisconsin in 1965. He went on to serve as an NSF Postdoctoral Fellow at CERN from 1965-66 and a postdoctoral fellow at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory from 1966-68.

It was in the storied summer of 1969 while Harte was teaching physics at Yale that he decided to return to nature studies. He and Socolow spent a month that summer conducting a hydrology study of the Florida Everglades, and their work showed that a proposed new airport would endanger the water supply for hundreds of thousands of people. That work, which Harte and Socolow detailed in one chapter of the book Patient Earth, led to the creation of an immense water conservation area in southwestern Florida.

“With not much more than back-of-the-envelope calculations, we were able to stop the jetport,” Harte says. “I thought, man, that’s cool. I want to do this.”

Harte was already worried about climate change and decided to transition to studying interdisciplinary environmental science. He sought out the wisdom of famous ecologists, such as G. Evelyn Hutchinson, to help him learn the field.

“I was lucky because I made this transition in the late ’60s and ’70s,” Harte says. “It was a novelty back then, and there weren’t a lot of people doing the things I wanted to do.”

He retained his love for physics and used physics concepts in his work.

“Unification is such an important goal in physics,” Harte says. “I came away with the thirst for finding unification in ecology. I also came away empowered that I could master practically any mathematic formula. ”

Viewing many different phenomena through the same lens has been critical to Harte’s work. His big-picture view isn’t always widely accepted by other ecologists, but it has helped him understand and make significant contributions to the natural world.

“John is gifted in non-linear modeling. He’s a physicist doing ecology to this day,” Socolow says.

During his career, Harte has served on six National Academy of Sciences Committees, has published hundreds of papers and has written eight books on topics including biodiversity, climate change and water resources. He has also received numerous awards, including a George Polk award for his work advising a group of graduate journalism students reporting on climate change.

He typically divides his days between fieldwork and theory, teaching courses in theoretical biology and environmental problem solving. He has mentored about 35 graduate students during the years, about 10 of whom have come from physics.

“They saw that I had made this transition, and they thought I’d be a good mentor. Students who want to make that transition come to work with me,” Harte says. “Because I speak the language of physics.”
 

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A whole-Earth approach

Ecologist John Harte applies principles from his former life as a physicist to his work trying to save the planet.

Each summer for the past 25 years, ecologist John Harte has spent his mornings in a meadow on the western slope of the Rocky Mountains. He takes soil samples from a series of experimentally heated plots at the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory, using the resulting data to predict how responses of ecosystems to climate change will generate further heating of the climate.

Harte, a former theoretical physicist, studies ecological theory and the relationship between climates and ecosystems. He holds a joint professorship at UC Berkeley’s Energy Resources Group and the university’s Ecosystem Sciences Division. He says he is motivated by a desire to help save the planet and to solve complex ecological problems.

“John is a gifted naturalist and a great birdwatcher,” says Robert Socolow, a colleague and former physicist who transitioned to the environmental field at the same time. “John went into physics to combine his deep love of nature and his talent for mathematical analysis.”

Harte, who loved bird watching and nature as a child, also enjoyed physics and math, which his schoolteachers urged him to pursue. He received his undergraduate degree in physics from Harvard in 1961, and a PhD in theoretical physics from the University of Wisconsin in 1965. He went on to serve as an NSF Postdoctoral Fellow at CERN from 1965-66 and a postdoctoral fellow at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory from 1966-68.

It was in the storied summer of 1969 while Harte was teaching physics at Yale that he decided to return to nature studies. He and Socolow spent a month that summer conducting a hydrology study of the Florida Everglades, and their work showed that a proposed new airport would endanger the water supply for hundreds of thousands of people. That work, which Harte and Socolow detailed in one chapter of the book Patient Earth, led to the creation of an immense water conservation area in southwestern Florida.

“With not much more than back-of-the-envelope calculations, we were able to stop the jetport,” Harte says. “I thought, man, that’s cool. I want to do this.”

Harte was already worried about climate change and decided to transition to studying interdisciplinary environmental science. He sought out the wisdom of famous ecologists, such as G. Evelyn Hutchinson, to help him learn the field.

“I was lucky because I made this transition in the late ’60s and ’70s,” Harte says. “It was a novelty back then, and there weren’t a lot of people doing the things I wanted to do.”

He retained his love for physics and used physics concepts in his work.

“Unification is such an important goal in physics,” Harte says. “I came away with the thirst for finding unification in ecology. I also came away empowered that I could master practically any mathematic formula. ”

Viewing many different phenomena through the same lens has been critical to Harte’s work. His big-picture view isn’t always widely accepted by other ecologists, but it has helped him understand and make significant contributions to the natural world.

“John is gifted in non-linear modeling. He’s a physicist doing ecology to this day,” Socolow says.

During his career, Harte has served on six National Academy of Sciences Committees, has published hundreds of papers and has written eight books on topics including biodiversity, climate change and water resources. He has also received numerous awards, including a George Polk award for his work advising a group of graduate journalism students reporting on climate change.

He typically divides his days between fieldwork and theory, teaching courses in theoretical biology and environmental problem solving. He has mentored about 35 graduate students during the years, about 10 of whom have come from physics.

“They saw that I had made this transition, and they thought I’d be a good mentor. Students who want to make that transition come to work with me,” Harte says. “Because I speak the language of physics.”
 

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Dark Energy Survey kicks off second season cataloging the wonders of deep space

This Fermilab press release came out on Aug. 18, 2014.

This image of the NGC 1398 galaxy was taken with the Dark Energy Camera. This galaxy lives in the Fornax cluster, roughly 65 million light-years from Earth. It is 135,000 light-years in diameter, just slightly larger than our own Milky Way galaxy, and contains more than 100 billion stars. Credit: Dark Energy Survey

This image of the NGC 1398 galaxy was taken with the Dark Energy Camera. This galaxy lives in the Fornax cluster, roughly 65 million light-years from Earth. It is 135,000 light-years in diameter, just slightly larger than our own Milky Way galaxy, and contains more than 100 billion stars. Credit: Dark Energy Survey

On Aug. 15, with its successful first season behind it, the Dark Energy Survey (DES) collaboration began its second year of mapping the southern sky in unprecedented detail. Using the Dark Energy Camera, a 570-megapixel imaging device built by the collaboration and mounted on the Victor M. Blanco Telescope in Chile, the survey’s five-year mission is to unravel the fundamental mystery of dark energy and its impact on our universe.

Along the way, the survey will take some of the most breathtaking pictures of the cosmos ever captured. The survey team has announced two ways the public can see the images from the first year.

Today, the Dark Energy Survey relaunched Dark Energy Detectives, its successful photo blog. Once every two weeks during the survey’s second season, a new image or video will be posted to www.darkenergydetectives.org, with an explanation provided by a scientist. During its first year, Dark Energy Detectives drew thousands of readers and followers, including more than 46,000 followers on its Tumblr site.

Starting on Sept. 1, the one-year anniversary of the start of the survey, the data collected by DES in its first season will become freely available to researchers worldwide. The data will be hosted by the National Optical Astronomy Observatory. The Blanco Telescope is hosted at the National Science Foundation’s Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory, the southern branch of NOAO.

In addition, the hundreds of thousands of individual images of the sky taken during the first season are being analyzed by thousands of computers at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab), and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. The processed data will also be released in coming months.

Scientists on the survey will use these images to unravel the secrets of dark energy, the mysterious substance that makes up 70 percent of the mass and energy of the universe. Scientists have theorized that dark energy works in opposition to gravity and is responsible for the accelerating expansion of the universe.

“The first season was a resounding success, and we’ve already captured reams of data that will improve our understanding of the cosmos,” said DES Director Josh Frieman of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory and the University of Chicago. “We’re very excited to get the second season under way and continue to probe the mystery of dark energy.”

While results on the survey’s probe of dark energy are still more than a year away, a number of scientific results have already been published based on data collected with the Dark Energy Camera.

The first scientific paper based on Dark Energy Survey data was published in May by a team led by Ohio State University’s Peter Melchior. Using data that the survey team acquired while putting the Dark Energy Camera through its paces, they used a technique called gravitational lensing to determine the masses of clusters of galaxies.

In June, Dark Energy Survey researchers from the University of Portsmouth and their colleagues discovered a rare superluminous supernova in a galaxy 7.8 billion light years away. A group of students from the University of Michigan discovered five new objects in the Kuiper Belt, a region in the outer reaches of our solar system, including one that takes over a thousand years to orbit the Sun.

In February, Dark Energy Survey scientists used the camera to track a potentially hazardous asteroid that approached Earth. The data was used to show that the newly discovered Apollo-class asteroid 2014 BE63 would pose no risk.

Several more results are expected in the coming months, said Gary Bernstein of the University of Pennsylvania, project scientist for the Dark Energy Survey.

The Dark Energy Camera was built and tested at Fermilab. The camera can see light from more than 100,000 galaxies up to 8 billion light-years away in each crystal-clear digital snapshot.

“The Dark Energy Camera has proven to be a tremendous tool, not only for the Dark Energy Survey, but also for other important observations conducted year-round,” said Tom Diehl of Fermilab, operations scientist for the Dark Energy Survey. “The data collected during the survey’s first year — and its next four — will greatly improve our understanding of the way our universe works.”

The Dark Energy Survey Collaboration comprises more than 300 researchers from 25 institutions in six countries. For more information, visit http://www.darkenergysurvey.org.

Fermilab is America’s premier national laboratory for particle physics and accelerator research. A U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science laboratory, Fermilab is located near Chicago, Illinois, and operated under contract by the Fermi Research Alliance, LLC. Visit Fermilab’s website at www.fnal.gov and follow us on Twitter at @FermilabToday.

The DOE Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, please visit science.energy.gov.

The National Optical Astronomy Observatory (NOAO) is operated by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA), Inc., under cooperative agreement with the National Science Foundation.

Dark Energy Survey kicks off second season

In September, DES will make data collected in its first season freely available to researchers.

On August 15, with its successful first season behind it, the Dark Energy Survey collaboration began its second year of mapping the southern sky in unprecedented detail. Using the Dark Energy Camera, a 570-megapixel imaging device built by the collaboration and mounted on the Victor M. Blanco Telescope in Chile, the survey’s five-year mission is to unravel the fundamental mystery of dark energy and its impact on our universe.

Along the way, the survey will take some of the most breathtaking pictures of the cosmos ever captured. The survey team has announced two ways the public can see the images from the first year.

Today, the Dark Energy Survey relaunched its photo blog, Dark Energy Detectives. Once every two weeks during the survey’s second season, a new image or video will be posted to www.darkenergydetectives.org with an explanation provided by a scientist. During its first year, Dark Energy Detectives drew thousands of readers and followers, including more than 46,000 followers on its Tumblr site.

Starting on September 1, the one-year anniversary of the start of the survey, the data collected by DES in its first season will become freely available to researchers worldwide. The data will be hosted by the National Optical Astronomy Observatory. The Blanco Telescope is hosted at the National Science Foundation's Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory, the southern branch of NOAO.

In addition, the hundreds of thousands of individual images of the sky taken during the first season are being analyzed by thousands of computers at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. The processed data will also be released in coming months.

Scientists on the survey will use these images to unravel the secrets of dark energy, the mysterious substance that makes up 70 percent of the mass and energy of the universe. Scientists have theorized that dark energy works in opposition to gravity and is responsible for the accelerating expansion of the universe.

“The first season was a resounding success, and we’ve already captured reams of data that will improve our understanding of the cosmos,” says DES Director Josh Frieman of Fermilab and the University of Chicago. “We’re very excited to get the second season under way and continue to probe the mystery of dark energy.”

While results on the survey’s probe of dark energy are still more than a year away, a number of scientific results have already been published based on data collected with the Dark Energy Camera.

The first scientific paper based on Dark Energy Survey data was published in May by a team led by Ohio State University’s Peter Melchior. Using data that the survey team acquired while putting the Dark Energy Camera through its paces, they used a technique called gravitational lensing to determine the masses of clusters of galaxies.

In June, Dark Energy Survey researchers from the University of Portsmouth and their colleagues discovered a rare superluminous supernova in a galaxy 7.8 billion light years away. A group of students from the University of Michigan discovered five new objects in the Kuiper Belt, a region in the outer reaches of our solar system, including one that takes over a thousand years to orbit the Sun.

In February, Dark Energy Survey scientists used the camera to track a potentially hazardous asteroid that approached Earth. The data was used to show that the newly discovered Apollo-class asteroid 2014 BE63 would pose no risk.

Several more results are expected in the coming months, says Gary Bernstein of the University of Pennsylvania, project scientist for the Dark Energy Survey.

The Dark Energy Camera was built and tested at Fermilab. The camera can see light from more than 100,000 galaxies up to 8 billion light-years away in each crystal-clear digital snapshot.

“The Dark Energy Camera has proven to be a tremendous tool, not only for the Dark Energy Survey, but also for other important observations conducted year-round,” says Tom Diehl of Fermilab, operations scientist for the Dark Energy Survey. “The data collected during the survey’s first year—and its next four—will greatly improve our understanding of the way our universe works.”


Fermilab published a version of this article as a press release.

 

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Dark Energy Survey kicks off second season

In September, DES will make data collected in its first season freely available to researchers.

On August 15, with its successful first season behind it, the Dark Energy Survey collaboration began its second year of mapping the southern sky in unprecedented detail. Using the Dark Energy Camera, a 570-megapixel imaging device built by the collaboration and mounted on the Victor M. Blanco Telescope in Chile, the survey’s five-year mission is to unravel the fundamental mystery of dark energy and its impact on our universe.

Along the way, the survey will take some of the most breathtaking pictures of the cosmos ever captured. The survey team has announced two ways the public can see the images from the first year.

Today, the Dark Energy Survey relaunched its photo blog, Dark Energy Detectives. Once every two weeks during the survey’s second season, a new image or video will be posted to www.darkenergydetectives.org with an explanation provided by a scientist. During its first year, Dark Energy Detectives drew thousands of readers and followers, including more than 46,000 followers on its Tumblr site.

Starting on September 1, the one-year anniversary of the start of the survey, the data collected by DES in its first season will become freely available to researchers worldwide. The data will be hosted by the National Optical Astronomy Observatory. The Blanco Telescope is hosted at the National Science Foundation's Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory, the southern branch of NOAO.

In addition, the hundreds of thousands of individual images of the sky taken during the first season are being analyzed by thousands of computers at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. The processed data will also be released in coming months.

Scientists on the survey will use these images to unravel the secrets of dark energy, the mysterious substance that makes up 70 percent of the mass and energy of the universe. Scientists have theorized that dark energy works in opposition to gravity and is responsible for the accelerating expansion of the universe.

“The first season was a resounding success, and we’ve already captured reams of data that will improve our understanding of the cosmos,” says DES Director Josh Frieman of Fermilab and the University of Chicago. “We’re very excited to get the second season under way and continue to probe the mystery of dark energy.”

While results on the survey’s probe of dark energy are still more than a year away, a number of scientific results have already been published based on data collected with the Dark Energy Camera.

The first scientific paper based on Dark Energy Survey data was published in May by a team led by Ohio State University’s Peter Melchior. Using data that the survey team acquired while putting the Dark Energy Camera through its paces, they used a technique called gravitational lensing to determine the masses of clusters of galaxies.

In June, Dark Energy Survey researchers from the University of Portsmouth and their colleagues discovered a rare superluminous supernova in a galaxy 7.8 billion light years away. A group of students from the University of Michigan discovered five new objects in the Kuiper Belt, a region in the outer reaches of our solar system, including one that takes over a thousand years to orbit the Sun.

In February, Dark Energy Survey scientists used the camera to track a potentially hazardous asteroid that approached Earth. The data was used to show that the newly discovered Apollo-class asteroid 2014 BE63 would pose no risk.

Several more results are expected in the coming months, says Gary Bernstein of the University of Pennsylvania, project scientist for the Dark Energy Survey.

The Dark Energy Camera was built and tested at Fermilab. The camera can see light from more than 100,000 galaxies up to 8 billion light-years away in each crystal-clear digital snapshot.

“The Dark Energy Camera has proven to be a tremendous tool, not only for the Dark Energy Survey, but also for other important observations conducted year-round,” says Tom Diehl of Fermilab, operations scientist for the Dark Energy Survey. “The data collected during the survey’s first year—and its next four—will greatly improve our understanding of the way our universe works.”


Fermilab published a version of this article as a press release.

 

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Coffee and code: Innovation at the CERN Webfest

The Particle Clicker team working late into the night.

The Particle Clicker team working late into the night.

This article was also published here on CERN’s website.

This weekend CERN hosted its third Summer Student Webfest, a three-day caffeine-fuelled coding event at which participants worked in small teams to build innovative projects using open-source web technologies.

There were a host of projects to inspire the public to learn about CERN and particle physics, and others to encourage people to explore web-based solutions to humanitarian disasters with CERN’s partner UNOSAT.

The event opened with a session of three-minute pitches: participants with project ideas tried to recruit team members with particular skills, from software development and design expertise to acumen in physics. Projects crystallised, merged or floundered as 14 pitches resulted in the formation of eight teams. Coffee was brewed and the hacking commenced…

Run Broton Run

Members of the Run Broton Run team help each other out at the CERN Summer Student Webfest 2014 (Image: James Doherty)

The weekend was interspersed with mentor-led workshops introducing participants to web technologies. CERN’s James Devine detailed how Arduino products can be used to build cosmic-ray detectors or monitor LHC operation, while developers from PyBossa provided an introduction to building crowdsourced citizen science projects on crowdcrafting.org. (See a full list of workshops).

After three days of hard work and two largely sleepless nights, the eight teams were faced with the daunting task of presenting their projects to a panel of experts, with a trip to the Mozilla Festival in London up for grabs for one member of the overall winning team. The teams presented a remarkable range of applications built from scratch in under 48 hours.

Students had the opportunity to with Ben Segal, an inductee of the Internet Hall of Fame.

Students had the opportunity to collaborate with Ben Segal (middle), inductee of the Internet Hall of Fame.

Prizes were awarded as follows:

Best Innovative Project: Terrain Elevation

A mobile phone application that accurately measures elevation. Designed as an economical method of choosing sites with a low risk of flooding for refugee camps.

Find out more.

Best Technology Project: Blindstore

A private query database with real potential for improving online privacy.

Find out more here.

Best Design Project: GeotagX and PyBossa

An easy-to-use crowdsourcing platform for NGOs to use in responding to humanitarian disasters.

Find out more here and here.

Best Educational Project: Run Broton Run

An educational 3D game that uses Kinect technology.

Find out more here.

Overall Winning Project: Particle Clicker

Particle Clicker is an elegantly designed detector-simulation game for web.

Play here.

“It’s been an amazing weekend where we’ve seen many impressive projects from different branches of technology,” says Kevin Dungs, captain of this year’s winning team. “I’m really looking forward to next year’s Webfest.”

Participants of the CERN Summer Student Webfest 2014 in the CERN Auditorium after three busy days' coding.

Participants of the CERN Summer Student Webfest 2014 in the CERN Auditorium after three busy days’ coding.

The CERN Summer Student Webfest was organised by François Grey, Ben Segal and SP Mohanty, and sponsored by the Citizen Cyberlab, Citizen Cyberscience Centre, Mozilla Foundation and The Port. Event mentors were from CERN, PyBossa and UNITAR/UNOSTAT. The judges were Antonella del Rosso (CERN Communications), Bilge Demirkoz (CERN Researcher) and Fons Rademakers (CTO of CERN Openlab).

LHC research, presented in tangible tidbits

Students working on their PhDs at the Large Hadron Collider explain their research with snacks, board games and Legos.

Concepts in particle physics can be hard to visualize. But a series of videos on the US LHC YouTube channel endeavors to make the abstract and complex concepts of particle physics easier to grasp.

In the videos, PhD students on experiments at the Large Hadron Collider each explain a basic concept from their research in three minutes or less using a household object. Check out the playlist to find out how LHC data is like trail mix, the Standard Model is like the Settlers of Catan board game, and the fundamental particles are like Lego blocks.

 

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The World’s Largest Detector?

This morning, the @CERN_JOBS twitter feed tells us that the ATLAS experiment is the world’s largest detector:

CERN_JOBS Tweet Largest Detector

Weighing over 7,000 tons, 46 meters long, and 25 meters high, ATLAS is without a doubt the particle detector with the greatest volume ever built at a collider. I should point out, though, that my experiment, the Compact Muon Solenoid, is almost twice as heavy at over 12,000 tons:

CMS

CMS is smaller but heavier — which may be why we call it “compact.” What’s the difference? Well, it’s tough to tell from the pictures, in which CMS is open for tours and ATLAS is under construction, but the big difference is in the muon systems. CMS has short gaps between muon-detecting chambers, while ATLAS has a lot of space in order to allow muons to travel further and get a better measurement. That means that a lot of the volume of ATLAS is actually empty air! ATLAS folks often say that if you could somehow make it watertight, it would float; as a CMS member, I heartily recommend attempting to do this and seeing if it works. ;)

But the truth is that all this cross-LHC rivalry is small potatoes compared to another sort of detector: the ones that search for neutrinos require absolutely enormous volumes of material to get those ghostlike particles to interact even occasionally! For example, here’s IceCube:

"Icecube-architecture-diagram2009" by Nasa-verve - IceCube Science Team - Francis Halzen, Department of Physics, University of Wisconsin. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Icecube-architecture-diagram2009.PNG#mediaviewer/File:Icecube-architecture-diagram2009.PNG

Most of its detecting volume is actually antarctic ice! Does that count? If it does, there may be a far bigger detector still. To follow that story, check out this 2012 post by Michael Duvernois: The Largest Neutrino Detector.

Rare isotopes facility underway at Michigan State

In July 140 truckloads of concrete arrived at Michigan State University to begin construction of the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams.

Michigan State University’s campus will soon feature a powerful accelerator capable of producing particles rarely observed in nature.

The under-construction Facility for Rare Isotope Beams at MSU will eventually generate atomic nuclei to be used in nuclear, biomedical, material and soil sciences, among other fields of research. FRIB (pronounced ef-rib) could even help scientists investigate a mystery of particle physics.

FRIB will produce beams of rare isotopes, highly unstable atomic nuclei that decay within fractions of a second after forming.

Nature produces bounteous amounts of rare isotopes in supernovae through a series of nuclear processes that physicists have yet to fully understand. But supernovae explode many light years away. Therefore to study rare isotopes, scientists must produce them in the laboratory.

On July 23, construction trucks poured enough concrete to fill four Olympic-sized swimming pools into a massive rectangular hole in the ground at MSU. It was the first of four installments for the floor of the 1500-by-70-foot tunnel that will house FRIB’s linear accelerator.

FRIB, which is funded by the Department of Energy's Office of Science, Michigan State University and the State of Michigan, will support the mission of DOE's Office of Nuclear Physics and will be available for use by researchers from around the world. It is scheduled for completion in 2022.

FRIB will produce the highest-intensity beam of uranium ions of any rare isotope facility in the world. When scientists accelerate uranium ions to about half the speed of light and then smash them into a target such as a disc of graphite, they create a slew of particles—including some rare isotopes.

The more intense the beam, the heavier and larger variety of rare isotopes that scientists can produce, says FRIB Project Manager Thomas Glasmacher: “The more incoming beam of particles you have, the better.”

FRIB should be able to produce a variety of different rare isotopes, says Walter Henning, former director for the GSI Laboratory in Germany that performs similar research. 

“With FRIB, and other major facilities, one hopes to get further out on the periodic table and be more complete,” he says.

Nearly two dozen facilities across the globe produce rare isotopes. Facilities such as the ATLAS accelerator facility at Argonne National Laboratory and the Radioactive Ion Beam Factory at the RIKEN Institute in Japan focus their efforts on creating rare isotopes for scientists to study the nuclear properties and behavior. Other facilities, such as the Heavy Ion Research Facility in Lanzhou, China, and TRIUMF Laboratory in Canada, offer research in additional applications such as cancer treatment. FRIB will offer researchers the chance to do a little bit of both and more.

“There are four pillars of the FRIB science program,” says MSU professor Bradley Sherrill, chief scientist of FRIB: Understanding the stability of atomic nuclei; discovering their origin and history in the universe; testing the fundamental laws of symmetries of nature; and identifying industrial applications of rare isotopes.

The properties and behaviors of rare isotopes and how they decay could hold clues to why matter is far more abundant than antimatter in the universe—a mystery that concerns particle physicists.

The big bang should have created equal amounts of matter and antimatter particles. If particles and antiparticles behave differently, that could be the cause of the imbalance that allows us to exist. The decay behavior of rare isotopes could divulge never-before-seen particles or interactions that would offer further insight to this mystery.

 

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