Tuesday, May 28, 2013

News: J-PARC leak signals poor sense of crisis

Staff lacked experience handling nuclear materials
Ritual regret: Japan Atomic Energy Research Institute chief Satoru Kondo apologizes at a news conference Saturday in the village of Tokai, Ibaraki Prefecture. | KYODO
The release of radioactive material from a Japan Atomic Energy Agency facility in Tokai, Ibaraki Prefecture, last week suggests scientists still lack a sense of crisis and urgency about radiation dangers despite the 2011 Fukushima disaster.
At least 30 researchers at the Hadron Experimental Facility of the Japan Proton Accelerator Research Complex (J-PARC) sustained internal radiation exposure in Thursday’s accident.
An alarm went off at 11:55 a.m. Thursday in a radiation-controlled part of the Hadron facility when an experiment to generate elementary particles by aiming a proton beam at a target made of gold went haywire. After halting the experiment for the alarm, a researcher in charge decided there was no danger and restarted the equipment just 13 minutes later.
“The safety device went off correctly and there wasn’t a malfunction,” the senior researcher was quoted as saying later. Soon after, radiation readings in the facility spiked alarmingly to 4 microsieverts per hour — 10 times normal — and officials shut down the equipment. They then ventilated the facility and the internal readings dropped. But despite the fact that the fan had no radiation filters, it wasn’t until late Friday afternoon that they checked radiation levels outside the facility.“It was not an appropriate move,” a J-PARC official conceded.
The 1½ days it took the JAEA to report the accident to the Nuclear Regulation Authority, at 10:15 p.m. Friday night, angered both the prefectural and central governments.
“The prefecture is taking the incident seriously. People living nearby are feeling very anxious about the external radiation leak and the internal exposure (of the researchers),” said Shuichi Matsumoto, an official at Ibaraki’s nuclear safety steps division who helped search J-PARC Saturday to probe the incident. 

Ground zero: The facility from which unnamed radioactive substances leaked during a nuclear experiment in Tokai, Ibaraki Prefecture, is shown in this undated photo. | JAPAN ATOMIC ENERGY AGENCY/KYODO
                                                                                              (Continue to read on  japantimes )

Friday, May 24, 2013

The Gravitational Universe

May 24th, 2013, 12:00 CEST is the deadline for submission of the eLISA white paper to the European Space Agency (ESA).

Quoting the webpage of the project: "Gravity is the dominant force in the universe. We propose the first ever mission to survey the entire universe directly with gravitational waves, to tell us about theformation of structure and galaxies, stellar evolution, the early universe, and the structure and nature of spacetime itself. Most importantly, there will be enormous potential for discovering the parts of the universe that are invisible by other means, such as black holes, the Big Bang, and other, as yet unknown objects. 
The European Space Agency has recently launched the process for choosing candidates for the next large mission launch slots. The first step in this process is the submission of white papers advocating science themes. The eLISA team will submit a compelling science case, which will be addressed by our eLISA mission concept in 2028."

79 authors and 80 contributors have worked intensively to produce this impressive white paper. The proposed mission itself is epic:

"Today we can see the beauty of the universe with modern telescopes in many wavelengths. Observing the universe with gravitational waves—which are analogous to acoustic waves—will allow us to hear the universe for the first time. 
eLISA will be the first observatory to directly detect low frequency gravitational waves. It will measure the relative displacement of free-falling test masses, one million kilometers apart, by means of laser interferometry. This will enable us to determine parameters like mass, spin, orbital elements, and luminosity distance of the sources with unprecedented precision. Large parts of the technologies necessary for such a mission have already been developed, and will be tested in space by LISA Pathfinder in 2015."
Almost 1000 scientists worldwide are supporting the mission, including Stephen Hawking, Edward Witten, Nobel Laureate Gerard 't Hooft and many of the most renewed faculties of Physics and Astrophysics worldwide.

If you want to learn what all of this is for, check out the project webpage!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Recommended by us:"First evidence for extraterrestrial sources of high-energy neutrinos"

IceCube Neutrino Observatory reports first evidence for extraterrestrial sources of high-energy neutrinos

A massive telescope in the Antarctic ice reports the detection of 28 extremely high-energy neutrinos that might have their origin in cosmic sources. Two of these reached energies greater than 1 petaelectronvolt (PeV), an energy level thousands of times higher than the highest energy neutrino yet produced in a manmade accelerator.
Photo: Francis Halzen
Francis Halzen

The IceCube Neutrino Observatory, run by an international collaboration and headquartered at the Wisconsin IceCube Particle Astrophysics Center (WIPAC) at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, identified the neutrinos, which were described today (May 15) in a talk at the IceCube Particle Astrophysics Symposium at UW–Madison.
“We’re looking for the first time at high energy neutrinos that are not coming from the atmosphere,” says Francis Halzen, principal investigator of IceCube and the Hilldale and Gregory Breit Distinguished Professor of Physics at UW–Madison. “This is what we were looking for,” he adds. “I would never have imagined that the science would be more exciting than building this instrument.”


(Continue to read on www.news.wisc.edu)

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Visiting the Pi

Let me state it clearly. The Perimeter Institute is A M A Z I N G. The institute and its facilities are just one of best places for a scientist to work. The building itself is a piece of art, and the interior is even better. 
Front view of the Perimeter Institute. The yellow glasses are those that reflect light from outside, but  one can actually look through from the interior. Most offices sport huge pairs of these glasses facing a quite and beautiful lake.

They stole the name of one of the conference rooms from our blog!
This is just one of the many places where scientists may gather together, chatting and discussing. The entire building is full of blackboards, sofa chairs and couches like those in the picture. Not to mention a pool table, a fully equipped kitchen (with fireplace for the winter!) a squash and basketball pitch and a gym with huge glasses facing the lake... This place is like the Google company of theoretical physics.

The lake next to the institute. Besides scientists and various other geeks, the area is inhabited by gooses 

PS: If you are curious, here is the video of the talk I gave on Thursday.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Oscillazione dei neutrini: la teoria "stocastica" sfida Pontecorvo.

In questo video apparso qualche giorno fa su physicsworld.com viene discusso brevemente il fenomeno dell'oscillazione dei neutrini.
Volevo quindi utilizzare il pretesto di questo breve, ma sfizioso video, per parlarvi brevemente (almeno spero) di un articolo uscito qualche giorno fa su arXiv nel quale gli autori propongono un meccanismo che pare fornisca una spiegazione ad alcune delle cosiddette "anomalie" dei neutrini e nello specifico della "Gallium anomaly" (anomalia del gallio) e della "anomalia dei reattori nucleari" (per chi non avesse mai sentito parlare di queste anomalie consiglio la lettura di questo post). Essi propongono un diverso meccanismo di oscillazione che differisce dall'ipotesi originale di Pontecorvo, che è quella riassunta nel video sopra. Questo nuovo meccanismo si basa sul presupposto fenomenologico che ciò che viene identificato al momento della creazione, come per esempio un neutrino elettronico, non è unico, ma può variare per differenti neutrini prodotti in quella reazione. Ciò implica inoltre che quello che viene denominato come "neutrino elettronico" al momento della creazione possa presentarsi anche come una differente combinazione di autostati di massa di quello che si presume essere un neutrino elettronico al momento della rivelazione e quindi esso possa assumere differenti configurazioni rispetto ai parametri di mixing usuali  e cioè agli angoli di mixing  θ12 ,θ23,θ13.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Recommended by us:"IBM Research Makes World’s Smallest Movie Using Atoms"

Future storage systems based on atomic-scale memory would be capable of storing massive amounts of Big Data
GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS® certifies movie as World's Smallest Stop-Motion Film

AN JOSE, Calif. - 01 May 2013: Scientists from IBM (NYSE: IBM) today unveiled the world’s smallest movie, made with one of the tiniest elements in the universe: atoms. Named “A Boy and His Atom,” the GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS -verified movie used thousands of precisely placed atoms to create nearly 250 frames of stop-motion action.

”A Boy and His Atom” depicts a character named Atom who befriends a single atom and goes on a playful journey that includes dancing, playing catch and bouncing on a trampoline. Set to a playful musical track, the movie represents a unique way to convey science outside the research community.  
“Capturing, positioning and shaping atoms to create an original motion picture on the atomic-level is a precise science and entirely novel,” said Andreas Heinrich, Principle Investigator, IBM Research. “At IBM, researchers don’t just read about science, we do it. This movie is a fun way to share the atomic-scale world while opening up a dialogue with students and others on the new frontiers of math and science. 
Making the Movie
In order to make the movie, the atoms were moved with an IBM-invented scanning tunneling microscope.  “This Nobel Prize winning tool was the first device that enabled scientists to visualize the world all the way down to single atoms,” said Christopher Lutz, Research Scientist, IBM Research. “It weighs two tons, operates at a temperature of negative 268 degrees Celsius and magnifies the atomic surface over 100 million times. The ability to control the temperature, pressure and vibrations at exact levels makes our IBM Research lab one of the few places in the world where atoms can be moved with such precision.”  
Remotely operated on a standard computer, IBM researchers used the microscope to control a super-sharp needle along a copper surface to “feel” atoms. Only 1 nanometer away from the surface, which is a billionth of a meter in distance, the needle can physically attract atoms and molecules on the surface and thus pull them to a precisely specified location on the surface. The moving atom makes a unique sound that is critical feedback in determining how many positions it’s actually moved.  
As the movie was being created, the scientists rendered still images of the individually arranged atoms, resulting in 242 single frames.


                                                                                               (Continue to read on IBM.com )