Friday, April 24, 2009

The Last Little Blue Dipole

Sounds like a great title for a children's book :) The newest CERN Bulletin is out, and of course the first thing I read is "The Latest from the LHC".

This week's update explains that the last blue dipole magnet is all better and finally gets to join his friends in sector 3-4 (the sector had the incident last September). And, as a bonus they linked to a video! I realize that the video is in French ... so think of it as a taste of life at CERN, where language barriers mean you don't always know exactly what's going on, but you get the gist... love the fast forward/reverse and the cheesy music!

Ok, here's a little help by way of a translation of CERN's description:

Since 14 November 2008, there were 54 magnets reinstalled in sector 3-4, 1 magnet in sector 1-2, and 1 magnet in sector 6-7. For the descent of the last superconducting dipole of 16 April 2009, Pascal Brunero, monitoring the work in the EN/HE group in charge of transport and handling, has responded to an interview for the bulletins.

A bientôt!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Lunch with John Oliver

Yes, you read that right. Just a normal day in the CERN cafeteria until we got to have lunch with our favorite Daily Show correspondent, John Oliver! Before you sputter in disbelief, here is the proof:

Adam, Me, John Oliver, Regina, and Jason

He happened to be at CERN, interviewing some awesome physicists (not us -- we will not be on camera), seeing the detectors, etc. and sat with us for lunch! Hilariously, we first caught him riding the large blue magnet outside of the cafeteria like a bronco:

(sorry for the far-away pic ... my phone doesn't zoom) This definitely caused a bit of a buzz among the Americans / Daily Show fans eating lunch. And then we cleared some room so that he, a producer, and their crew could join us at our table.

I don't think we embarrassed ourselves too much, and he's just as cool in person as on TV, except a little more jet-lagged maybe :) I'll definitely keep you all updated when the segment airs (our best guess is probably the week after next).

A bientôt!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Some bling for the universe?

Looks like the night sky has some pretty sweet accessories---some sparkly gamma-ray bursts. This little movie from the NASA website shows gamma rays in the "northern galactic sky" from April through October of 2008 (each frame is 1 day). The data was taken by the Large Area Telescope of the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope (formerly known as Prince, oops, I mean GLAST). It nicely puts in the locations of a few familiar constellations and the path of the sun so you can get your bearings.

Credit: NASA/DOE/Fermi LAT Collaboration

Symmetry breaking has a nice article explaining that the bright flashes are blazars:
Some of the most violent energy sources in the universe, blazars are galaxies that emit jets of particles traveling near the speed of light. In a blazar, one of these jets is oriented directly toward Earth, creating a very strong signal in many wavelengths—including gamma rays.
and the dimmer but constant red dots are pulsars:
The crushed cores left behind when massive stars explode, pulsars spin rapidly and sweep a lighthouse-like beam across the sky. When this beam is oriented so that it shines on Earth, we observe it to blink on and off as the star spins.

It’s funny, but we [the Large Area Telescope collaboration] consider pulsars steady sources,” Digel says. “Unlike blazars, they don’t change in brightness, they only pulse.” Because the slowest gamma-ray pulsars flash a few times per second, their on-and-off nature isn’t visible in the highly compressed time of the movie. But in the telescope’s complete data, the flashes are quite clear; in fact, the Large Area Telescope was the first telescope to discern that one of these sources, LAT PSR J1836+5925 (the one on the left edge of the movie), is in fact a pulsar. Previously, it was known as a steady, unidentified gamma-ray object.

A bientôt!

Friday, April 3, 2009

Load up your crossbows

I was wondering why the #4 Google Trend this morning was "Higgs excitation"...

I hope they'll be passing out crossbows in the CERN cafeteria today.

A bientôt!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Fermilab Celebrates April Fool's Day

Just a quick post to make sure you check out Fermilab Today.

I'm pleased to say that I have met Eric Yurkewicz personally, and I am not surprised that the precocious youth was able to detect that flaw in the LHC. It is only a matter of time before he becomes CERN director-general ;) But I think my favorite story is "Particles attempt lab takeover":

Happy April Fool's Day!

A bientôt!