October 31, 2009
Industries thrive on particle beams
October 30, 2009
America’s accelerator future
October 30, 2009
CMS appears on Colbert Report
In the second half of tonight’s episode of The Colbert Report,
pictures of CMS are featured as Stephen tries to comprehend the Higgs
boson traveling back in time to prevent its discovery. Physicist Brian
Cox follows, promoting his book “Why does E=mc2?”, and uses a peculiar
British aphorism in denouncing the aforementioned Higgs time-travel
In part of the conversation reference is made to an earlier visit to
the LHC, but that was actually by The Daily Show’s correspondent John
October 30, 2009
Safety reminder using public transport between Geneva and CERN
You may have heard that a colleague was a victim of theft when he used public transport from the Geneva train station
to CERN. His laptop bag was stolen at the Avanchets stop, and he lost his passport, visa, cash and of course the laptop.
There were times where you did not expect such a thing to happen in Switzerland, but those times are long gone now, so please be vigilant.
…See, for example,
The 2007 crime statistics report states:
“Being surrounded by the majestic, snow-covered Alps, combined with a
pervasive sense of orderliness, it is understandable that travelers to
Geneva might forget that the city of Geneva, and the adjacent cantons
are not immune from crime. While the State Department rates Geneva’s
crime threat as low, the city of Geneva, to include the cantons of
Geneva and Vaud, have reported an increase in the number of reported
incidents that involve pickpockets, thefts through shrewdness,
residential break-ins (which doubled in canton Vaud), carjackings, and
Pick-pocket crime has increased by 16% between 2004 and 2007, and break-ins into apartments in France have been reported.
It is important to file a police report if this ever happens to you.
One time to be especially watchful is in boarding a bus or tram with steps and while loading luggage onto it. With one’s hands full, a pickpocket may have the advantage. A suggestion is to carry laptops in a case with a shoulder strap as well as handles and have it in front of you when you board.
October 28, 2009
HEPAP Meeting Talks
The HEPAP Meeting took place last week in Washington D.C. on Oct 22-23. Highlights include a presentation by the new Director of the Office of Science, Dr. Brinkman, and status updates by Dennis Kovar (DOE OHEP) and Joe Dehmer (NSF Physics). The final presentation was by Steven Ritz who reported on the HEPAP Particle Astrophysics Scientific Assessment Group (PASAG).
October 27, 2009
LHC lecture series announcement
The restart of the LHC and first physics at the experiments provide a good hook around which to organize a public lecture. Materials are currently being developed for an LHC public lecture series, following the model of the Angels & Demons lecture series organized earlier this year
Template materials, including posters, postcards and a powerpoint presentation, will be available by mid-November for you to use in organizing public lectures throughout the coming year. Materials will be made available on an LHC lecture series Web site, which will also include a list of lectures across
the country, links to videos of lectures already presented, and photos and video for use in preparing your presentation. We hope you will consider organizing a public lecture in your area.
An update will be sent to the US LHC lists when lecture materials are available, but if you wish to be added to an email list for lecture updates, please send an email to series organizers Elizabeth Clements (firstname.lastname@example.org<mailto:email@example.com>) or Katie Yurkewicz (firstname.lastname@example.org<mailto:email@example.com>).
Please also feel free to contact us with any questions about the series.
October 23, 2009
AIP FYI #125 – Questions Raised About DOE High Energy Physics and Nuclear Physics Programs
“We may be going toward the spices in India, but we may run into America,” said Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory Director Pier Oddone about future research results from the Large Hadron Collider (LHC). Oddone was one of four witnesses testifying earlier this month at a hearing of the Subcommittee on Energy and the Environment of the House Science and Technology Committee.
Oddone’s comment came at the end of the hearing in response to a series of pointed questions from subcommittee chairman Brian Baird (D-WA) at a hearing on the DOE’s Office of Science programs in high energy physics and nuclear physics. Other witnesses were Lisa Randall, Professor of Physics at Harvard University; Dennis Kovar, the Director of the DOE High Energy Physics Program; and Hugh Montgomery, Director of the Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility.
Chairman Baird is a strong supporter of science. His candid remarks offered insight into the thinking of a Member of Congress. With some frustration, Baird spoke of the money spent on the Superconducting Super Collider, saying the taxpayer had “got nothing really out of it.” Baird then described the “tremendous” amount of money contributed to the LHC and how it failed to operate properly, saying “we put a hell of a lot of money into this thing on the promise that certain things would be achieved and now it’s not going to be achieved.” Baird predicted that investigations would have been undertaken and oversight hearings convened if this had occurred in another government program. Baird continued: “You get to skate, partially because you know stuff that we don’t have a clue what you are doing. And I think that’s neat. I admire your knowledge, I admire your intellect.” Baird said it was a Member! ’s responsibility to ensure that federal revenue is well spent, saying that constituents’ taxes allocated to research facilities like the LHC could have been used for a child’s education, a new car, or to repair a roof. Baird spoke of the thousands of societal problems needing attention, and how money used on “big gizmos” could be spent on programs with a more immediate and a more direct benefit to a society. Besides curiosity, how can this spending be rationalized, Baird asked the witnesses.
Kovar responded that the U.S. LHC contribution was working as designed, and under the Office of Science’s project management practices, was on cost and on schedule. He said the LHC was a very complicated machine that is defining the state of the art, and as such is a “high risk.” While acknowledging that it is “not good right now,” Kovar said “the expectation is that it is going to run at some point.” A larger problem, he stated, was the difficulty of better documenting and communicating the value of highly technical research performed at facilities such as the LHC to the larger public. People need to better experience science, he said. Among immediate gains from U.S. participation in the LHC are American advances in technology, the training of a workforce that goes on to work in many areas, and the appeal of cutting-edge discoveries to the American public.
Montgomery described how metrics have measured the success of accelerator performance at Jefferson National Laboratory, Fermilab’s Tevatron, SLAC’s B Factory, and Brookhaven’s Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider. “You are getting real scientific measurements and return on your dollars in general,” he told Baird.
Randall expressed disappointment that the SSC was not completed, and assured Baird that it was only a question of time before the LHC would be operating. Governments, she said, were the only source of funding for cutting-edge basic research of this type.
“In the end, it really has to be justified by the results” Oddone told the subcommittee. “I completely agree with you that our field is in deep, deep trouble globally if we do not deliver on the Large Hadron Collider,” he said, adding “our intent is absolutely to deliver.” It was at this point that Oddone commented about the discovery of America while looking for spices.
Earlier in the hearing, the witnesses discussed the likelihood of profound consequences from future discoveries in high energy and nuclear physics research, concern about how U.S. high energy physics facilities were closing, and the necessity of maintaining American leadership. In response to Rep. Daniel Lipinski’s (D-IL) observation that research in these fields is expensive and that more needs to be done to better communicate its results, the witnesses spoke of the importance of the media and other programs to engage the pubic. Oddone and Montgomery described the public’s enthusiastic response to outreach and teacher education programs at their laboratories.
Kovar expressed concern that advances in accelerator technology have moved overseas, and with it the vendors who provide it. It was, he said, extremely important for the U.S. to maintain its leadership in these fields. Other witnesses explained how the construction of accelerators in the United States has strengthened domestic technologies leading to advances in areas such as the web and medicine. Laboratories serve as “the great attractors” Montgomery said, drawing the world’s scientists.
This hearing was one in a series that has been held on the programs of the DOE Office of Science. A hearing on the fusion energy sciences program will be held next week. The subcommittee is working on a reauthorization bill for DOE’s science programs.
NOTE there is a
October 23, 2009
AIP FYI 126 – Brinkman’s Comments to High Energy Physics Advisory Panel
Yesterday William Brinkman, Director of the DOE Office of Science, addressed the High Energy Physics Advisory Panel at the start of a two-day meeting in Washington. Brinkman spoke on the following subjects:
FY 2010 Budget:
The Energy and Water Development Appropriations Bill is one of only four FY 2010 funding bills sent to President Obama. Saying this “has been a tremendous year” in which an “enormous amount” had been accomplished, Brinkman pointed to three DOE funding bills passed this year: the FY 2009 bill (left over from last year), the economic stimulus bill, and the FY 2010 bill. Earmarking was reduced by approximately $20 million from last year. Stimulus money is being spent to avoid large “mortgages” in future years.
Energy Innovation Hubs:
Brinkman stated that DOE “failed to explain ourselves early on” when it sent Congress its FY 2010 request for eight Energy Innovation Hubs. Appropriators provided funding for only three hubs. A slide included the statement “Hope to add additional hubs in FY 2011.” Brinkman noted that because Yucca Mountain is no longer being considered as a repository a hub on nuclear waste would be desirable.
Doubling of the Office of Science Budget:
“We are . . . heading for the doubling by 2016,” Brinkman told the panel.
Office of Science Education Programs:
“People don’t seem to appreciate the enormity of our education” programs, Brinkman said. About 300,000 students in all grade levels are touched by Office of Science programs every year. A wide range of programs are offered, from open houses at laboratories to those that support early career research.
High Energy Physics Research:
“I like the idea of a little competition” Brinkman told the panel, referring to Fermilab’s Tevatron and the Large Hadron Collider. Approximately 1,000 U.S. scientists work at the LHC. About the LHC, he commented: “hopefully it will be an exciting time.” “We want to keep alive high energy experimentation in the U.S., but need continued strong justification” he said, adding the science case made to Congress for future research is “not a simple story.” Later in the program, Dennis Kovar, Director of the DOE Office of High Energy Physics stated that funding will be requested in FY 2011 to run Fermilab’s Tevatron because of the delay in the operations of the Large Hadron Collider.
International Linear Collider:
Responding to a question from a HEPAP member about the proposed International Linear Collider, now estimated to cost $20-$25 billion, Brinkman said “In my opinion, the price pushes it way out . . . onto the back burner.” Kovar said the decision that was to have been made in FY 2012 about the ILC will now be made later.
October 23, 2009
LHC Restart Information
October 20, 2009
Abstract deadline for 2010 April APS Meeting is Friday, October 23 5pm EDT
October 19, 2009
USA Science Festival
We would like to draw your attention to a unique opportunity for friends of Science Debate to help elevate science and engineering in our national dialogue: the Inaugural USA Science & Engineering Festival.
This is to be the largest celebration of science and engineering in the United States, and will be held in Washington D.C. in the Fall of 2010. We just got off the phone with the festival organizer, Larry Bock, who we have been fans of for some time. Larry created the amazing San Diego Science Festival last year, which drew over 200,000 people, so he’s our kind of guy! What we like about this concept and why we are supporting it is it’s a new way to elevate science populism in the U.S. Check out this amazing 2-minute video of the San Diego Science Festival atWe encourage you to contact Larry to discuss how you and your employer or organization can get involved – even if you don’t work for a science or engineering organization. Here is some background info:
The Inaugural USA Science & Engineering Festival will be the country’s first national science festival. It will be a multi-cultural, multi-generational, multi-disciplinary celebration of science and enginering in the United States. The culmination of the Festival will be an Expo on the Washington D.C. Mall that we hope will attract over 1 million people, and will give over 500 science organizations from all over the United States the opportunity to present a hands-on, fun science activity to inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers.
Participating science organizations are asked to create an engaging, hands-on activity to be presented in a 10×10 foot Festival tent during the Expo. The goal of these exhibits is to lower the barriers to science and engineering and make them as cool and accessible and inspiring as possible. Exhibitors should try to create the same feeling that inspires you – only even better.
The USA Science & Engineering Festival is modeled after the very popular and successful science festivals that take place internationally in the United Kingdom, Germany, Italy, India, Japan and Australia. These festivals are typically 7 to 14-day events, draw between 100,000-1,000,000 people and celebrate all aspects of science and engineering through inspiring lectures, hands-on activities and exhibits, contests, theatre, comedy, poetry, art and music – all celebrating science and engineering.
The USA Science & Engineering Festival will celebrate science and engineering in general but will also have special programs in areas such as clean technology, alternative energy, green chemistry, bio-mimicry, sustainability, ecology and conservation.
This will be a unique opportunity for your organization to show off their science and engineering enthusiasm side by side with a long list of national universities, research institutes and colleges, high technology and life science companies, government agencies, professional science societies, informal science outreach organizations and college student groups.
If you are interested in being involved with what may just become the Woodstock of Science & Engineering, contact Larry here:
-Shawn Otto and the team at
October 16, 2009
AIP FYI 124: DOE Appropriations Bill Sent to White House While Other Bills Await Action
As reported in FYI 117, the HEP allocation is as follows:
The current budget is $795.8 million.
The Administration requested $819.0 million, an increase of 2.9 percent or $23.3 million.
The final bill provides $810.5 million, an increase of 1.9 percent or $14.7 million over last year’s budget
The report states: “Within these funds, the conference agreement provides $434,471,000 for Proton Accelerator-Based Physics.”
FYI 124: With a vote of 80 to 17, the Senate voted yesterday to send the FY 2010 Energy and Water Development Appropriations Bill to President Obama. This action follows approval of this final legislation by the full House on a 308 to 114 vote on October 1.
The bill increases the budget for the DOE Office of Science by 3.1 percent or $146.1 million, withranging from 0.5 to 6.8 percent. for the National Nuclear Security Administration increased by 7.3 percent.
The Energy and Water Development Appropriations Bill is the third of the twelve appropriations bills (or conference reports) to be sent to the President, the others being the Agriculture and the Legislative Branch bills. Since Fiscal Year 2010 began on October 1, temporary funding is being provided to maintain government operations. This funding expires at the end of October.
Congressional leaders have been trying to pass each of the appropriations bill separately. While House rules control the amount of time a bill is considered on the House floor, Senate rules make it much more difficult to do so. The opportunity for separate passage of the remaining appropriations bills is becoming more remote.
The Senate started debate on its version of the Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations Bill on October 5. This bill provides funding for the National Science Foundation, NASA, and the National Institute of Standards and Technology, along with many other agencies and departments. After much floor consideration, a measure was offered to limit further debate on October 13. Sixty votes were required to do so; the vote was 56 to 38. With that, and largely because of an impasse regarding whether a question should appear on the upcoming census regarding U.S. citizenship (the Census Bureau is under the Department of Commerce), the bill was pulled from the Senate floor. If the Senate does pass this bill, a final version still must be written by a conference of House and Senate appropriators.
A similar situation exists for the Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Bill. The House has passed its version of the bill. On August 4, the Senate Appropriations Committee sent its bill to the Senate floor; no further action has been taken. This bill provides funding for the National Institutes of Health, the U.S. Department of Education, and many other agencies and departments.
The Senate passed its version of the Defense Appropriations Bill on October 6. It has appointed the senators who will sit on the conference committee to write the final version of this bill. The House, which passed its bill on July 30, has not named conferees. Further action will probably not occur until later this month.
The Interior Bill provides funding for the U.S. Geological Survey. The House and Senate have each passed versions of this bill. Senators have been named to a conference to write the final bill; representatives have not been appointed. Further action on this bill could occur next week.
Floor time will become very scarce when health care legislation comes to the floor. No one has predicted if congressional leaders will take the incomplete appropriations bills and bundle them into a single omnibus bill or pass another short term funding bill. Agreement will be needed to move the remaining appropriations bills separately, and that is in short supply, with one senator saying after the Senate finally passed the Energy and Water Development bill, “It is reflective of what is happening in this Chamber. Regrettably, there is very little cooperation.”
October 16, 2009
October 16, 2009
How a French Physicist Became a Terrorism Suspect (Time)
Revelations in the case have slowly emerged following the Oct. 8 arrest of 32-year-old French-Algerian Adlène Hicheur, who holds a doctorate in particle physics.
October 15, 2009
Wilson Fellowship in Experimental Physics
The Wilson Fellowship program at Fermilab seeks applications from Ph.D.
physicists of exceptional talent with at least two years of post-doctoral work. The fellowships are awarded on a competitive basis and support physicists early in their careers by providing unique opportunities for self-directed research in experimental physics. Fellows will work on the Fermilab particle physics experiment of their choice. The Fermilab experimental program includes collider physics at both the Tevatron and the LHC, studies of neutrino and astroparticle physics, as well as R&D for experiments at future colliders and high intensity beams.
The Wilson Fellowships are tenure track positions with an annual salary fully competitive with university assistant professorships. The appointment is for an initial term of three years and can be renewed for an additional two years upon the completion of a successful review after the first two years.
Each candidate should submit a research statement describing a proposed research program, a curriculum vitae, and should arrange to have four
letters of reference sent to the address below. Application materials and
letters of reference should be received by October 30, 2009.
Materials, letters, and requests for information should be sent to:
Wilson Fellows Committee
Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory
MS 122, Attention: Ms. Cathryn Laue
P.O. Box 500, Batavia, IL 60510-0500
Additional information is available at:
Fermilab is an Equal Opportunity Employer – M/F/D/V
October 15, 2009
USLUO Second Annual Meeting –
October 15, 2009
French Investigate Scientist in formal terrorism inquiry
A French court placed a physicist working at, the high-energy research laboratory in Switzerland, under formal investigation on Monday for suspected “conspiracy with a terrorist enterprise.”
October 15, 2009
We would like to bring the availability of a Lederman Fellowship to your
attention. The Fellowship is intended for recent or about-to-become Ph.D’s
in particle physics. Details of the position, including how to apply, are
October 14, 2009
Summary of ACCU 9 September Meeting
Additional note: There has been some outcry by some individuals over the change in the R1 terrace and the planned removal of the large trees to accommodate the extra seating. As it was mentioned to us at ACCU, the reason the extension has to go there and not elsewhere is to keep within legal distance of the toilets and not build new ones which was said to be expensive. If people feel strongly about it, and if it is not already too late (they are already digging up around the terrace), US representative Darin Acosta can pass along complaints. But then we may not have the seating we need, which is certainly visible right now without the outside terrace.
I would like to inform you about the last Advisory Committee of CERN Users (ACCU) meeting which took place on the 9th September, 2009. Since the beginning of 2009, with the new management, there is a breath of fresh air at CERN. In particular ACCU has received a lot of attention and a link to it now appears in the middle of the CERN Web page. Last December the new DG asked for a prioritized list of ACCU topics, which, after consultation with the other delegates, I provided at the end of January. This was the starting point of the Web questionnaire in May, addressed to all members of the personnel, users and staff. There were 2058 replies. The results of the questionnaire were presented by the DG to ACCU in the June meeting and were used to prepare a lengthy action list for the management, mostly GS Department. The GS Deputy Department Leader, M. Tiirakari, now attends ACCU meetings. In the September meeting, both the DG and MT presented a long list of short- and medium-term points which have been attacked. In several cases the problems have already been solved, in many they will be solved in the next few months. Among the highest priorities for the users there is the possibility of finding (cheap) accommodation either in the Hostel or at least in the vicinity of CERN. Problems connected with mobility, reaching the lab from their residence and mobility within the lab, including the most remote points such as CMS, are also of the utmost practical importance. Restaurants at CERN have to face the increased number of users and the demand for quality standards.
After several requests from ACCU, many discussions and a long waiting period, the possibility of booking the Hostel via the Web will be a reality in December. The rooms available for the following three months will be visible and they will be booked using CERN id and password, with a Credit Card as a guarantee. A penalty for cancellations, e.g. as a function of the approaching of the arrival date, is being studied. The problem with cancellations, often at midday on the arrival date, or, in limited cases, of no- shows (one to a few per day), is a serious one for the handling of the reservations and seems to make CERN a very special case, perhaps because so far no guarantee is requested for a reservation. The result, as it is well known, is a series of refusals, the infamous unofficial waiting list, and, surprisingly, an occupation rate, which in the busiest months reaches only 90%. In addition to Web booking, the Hostel Web site will contain a list of hotels in the vicinity of CERN available at corporate rates. In the long run, we are thinking about a possible hostel for students, e.g. to solve the problem with summer students, who visit CERN at a time of activity of the accelerators, thus clashing with users coming for shifts. An onerous solution has to wait for the repayment of the debt contracted for the construction of Bat. 41. In the mean time the renovation of Bat. 38 & 39 will start soon and will provide a few additional rooms. A fast intermediate solution for Restaurant 3 in Prevessin is being studied and should be operational by October with a much better quality of service. The project for augmenting the capacity of Restaurant 1 was shown. The first batch of work to renovate the terrace will take place in October-November. The contract for the construction of the extension should be signed in March, and the works could begin in April and be finished by October 2010.
Concerning mobility, several solutions are being studied, since it is unthinkable to keep increasing the number of PH-cars with small CERN logos. For instance, CERN corporate rates were negotiated with Herz, both for official and private use. The management wants to improve the shuttle service with a few immediate actions, which will be complete by January (acquisition of two new shuttle buses, hiring three new drivers). A new timetable providing frequent transport to and from Prevessin, and to the LHC pits is being finalized. A special timetable will be operational to cover the needs of the periods when the experiments are running, CMS in particular.
Among the other points on the agenda were the actions towards the preparation of the Code of Conduct, the activity of the Equal Opportunity Advisory Panel (EOAP), the availability of dosimeters and of radiation protection courses, and some information from the Users’ Office (UO) given by C. Onions who acts as ACCU secretary. The Code of Conduct will apply to all members of personnel, staff, users, and contractors and will have a preventive role in a moment of enlargement of the Organization and of increased public scrutiny after last year’s media events. It will be based on the concept of excellence, the AND of integrity, effectiveness, professionalism, diversity and commitment. The guidelines were developed by HR department following a request by the DG and by various committees (EOAP, ACCU). The next step will comprise discussions within several focus groups, including one comprised of users which was set up by K. Lassila-Perini. Approval by the extended directorate is foreseen in December. Also the EOAP has now a new perception and is addressing all the personnel, e.g. in the resolution of possible conflicts, including an ombudsperson function, which had been requested in particular by the delegates of the northern countries in ACCU. The problem with the lack of dosimeters which had happened in the past is on the way of being solved with some new acquisitions on ATLAS, ALICE, LHCb funds and others foreseen in the short-term on CERN funds. As from the beginning of 2010, 6300 dosimeters will be available, sufficient to cover the needs of the LHC experiments. Also the availability and frequency of radiation protection courses, necessary to receive a dosimeter, have been increased. The UO is exchanging the Swiss Attestations de Fonctions with Cartes de Legitimation Type P, and the persons concerned are receiving e-mails for this. Other e-mails are being sent to persons having only the Swiss card, without having also the French documents. The next meeting of ACCU is scheduled for 9 December, 2009: should you have any point of concern wrt topics addressed by ACCU and to be raised in the AOBs, please let your delegate in ACCU know.
ACCU Homepage: http://ph-dep-accu.web.cern.ch/ph-dep-ACCU/
October 13, 2009
AIP FYI #122 – Obama Innovation Strategy
“Our vision of America’s future is one where prosperity is built by skilled, productive workers and sound investments that will spread opportunity at home and allow this nation to lead the world in the technologies, innovation and discoveries that will shape the 21st century” – Executive Office of the President
Last month the National Economic Council and the Office of Science and Technology Policy issued a 22-page document entitled “A Strategy for American Innovation: Driving Towards Sustainable Growth and Quality Jobs.” This paper outlines the Obama Administration’s approach to rebuilding “a new foundation for durable, sustainable economic growth.”
“Restoring American leadership in fundamental research” is a key factor in promoting economic growth and quality jobs. The Administration’s strategy is presented as a three-tiered pyramid, the base of which is labeled “Invest in the Building Blocks of American Innovation.” Within this tier, in addition to fundamental research, are education and the creation of a world-class workforce, physical infrastructure, and the development of an advanced information technology ecosystem. The pyramid’s second tier, “Promote Competitive Markets that Spur Productive Entrepreneurship,” consists of export promotion, opening capital markets, encouragement of entrepreneurship, and improving public sector and community innovation. The third tier, “Catalyze Breakthroughs for National Priorities,” includes clean energy, advanced vehicle technologies, health care technology, and an interesting rang! e of grand challenges. This FYI focuses on the pyramid’s first tier.
The document briefly describes the Administration’s concerns about the American economy. It has relied too heavily on unsustainable, bubble-driven, growth in the technology, housing, and financial sectors. This has resulted in “a short-term focus [which] has neglected essential fundamental investments,” in education, physical and technological infrastructure, health care costs, and continued dependency on fossil fuels. Of note, the report states:
“Furthermore, we have compounded the problem by ignoring essential investments in high technology research that will drive future growth.” “Over the last four decades, Federal funding for the physical, mathematical, and engineering sciences has declined by half as a percent of GDP (from 0.25 percent to 0.13 percent) while other countries have substantially increased their research budgets.”
A later section entitled “The Appropriate Role for Government” states the Administration’s approach to R&D funding:
“the recent crisis illustrates that the free market itself does not promote the long-term benefit of society, and that certain fundamental investments and regulations are necessary to promote the social good. This is particularly true in the case of investments for research and development, where knowledge spillovers and other externalities ensure that the private sector will under-invest – especially in the most basic of research.”
It later adds:
“The true choice in innovation is not between government and no government, but about the right type of government involvement in support of innovation. A modern, practical approach recognizes both the need for fundamental support and the hazards of overzealous government intervention. The government should make sure individuals and businesses have the tools and support to take risks and innovate, but should not dictate what risks they take.
“We propose to strike a balance by investing in the building blocks that only the government can provide, setting an open and competitive environment for businesses and individuals to experiment and grow, and by providing extra catalysts to jumpstart innovation in sectors of national importance. In this way, we will harness the inherent ingenuity of the American people and a dynamic private sector to generate innovations that help ensure the next expansion is more solid, broad-based, and beneficial than previous ones.”
Under the heading “Examples of Successful Innovation Programs” the report states:
“The Administration is committed to strengthening and focusing investments in our world-class nanotechnology research and development pipeline; targeting support for nanotechnology transfer and facilitating commercial start-ups; and cross-disciplinary training and education of scientists and engineers in the new-generation workforce. This will enable us to capitalize on our investments and stay at the cutting edge of this rapidly growing technology.”
A later section of the report outlines the Administration’s policies to “Invest in the Building Blocks of American Innovation.” To “Restore American Leadership in Fundamental Research” states:
“President Obama recognizes the fundamental role of government in fostering groundbreaking scientific and technological breakthroughs, and has committed resources and energy to ensure America leads the world in the innovations of the future.”
“Enact the Largest R&D increase in our nation’s history. With $18.3 billion in research funding, the Recovery Act is part of the largest annual increase in research and development in America’s history.
“Double the R&D budget of key science agencies. The President’s Budget proposed to double the research budgets of three key science agencies: the National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy’s Office of Science, and the National Institutes of Standards and Technology. These investments will expand the frontiers of human knowledge and create the foundation for the industries and jobs of the future, such as the convergence of bio, info, and nanotechnologies. The Obama Administration will increase the impact of this investment by providing more support for high-risk, high return research, for multidisciplinary research, and for scientists and engineers at the beginning of their careers.
“Invest three percent of GDP in R&D. The President has proposed a goal that as a country, we invest more than three percent of our GDP in public and private research and development. This will exceed the level achieved at the height of the space race.
“Make the R&E tax credit permanent. The President’s Budget includes the full $75 billion cost of making the research and experimentation tax credit permanent. This will provide businesses with the greater confidence they need to invest, innovate, and grow.”
In a later section on education and the workforce, the strategy has six components, including:
“Improve America’s Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) education. STEM education is particularly important to America’s future scientific progress and economic growth. As part of his effort to promote innovation in K-12 education, the President has challenged governors, philanthropists, scientists, engineers, educators and the private sector to join with him to dramatically improve achievement in STEM subjects. The President’s Race to the Top fund aims to reinvigorate the teaching of STEM in America’s classrooms and support advanced learning in these subjects, especially for women, girls and other underrepresented groups. The President is also committed to using the $4 billion Race nto the Top fund to encourage states to put STEM at the center of their reform efforts. Finally, the Recovery Act provided a down payment toward the goal of tripling the number of NSF Graduate Research Fellowships in science a! nd engineering.”
“Improve the processing of high-tech visas. In order to maintain our role as a global leader and convener of scientific conferences and other gatherings, the Obama Administration has worked to ensure foreign scientists and technological leaders can visit the United States to participate in important events while continuing to protect sensitive technologies.”
There are many other policy initiatives described in this 22-page Strategy. Also of interest are examples of eight “Grand Challenges” on the final page. The entire report can be accessed.
October 13, 2009
October 13, 2009
BBC News – Europe –
October 12, 2009
Information from the CERN Director-General (update)
Geneva 12 October 2009. Following the arrest in Vienne, France, on Thursday 8 October of a man suspected of links to terrorist organizations, CERN has the following statement to make.
CERN is a fundamental physics research laboratory founded 55 years ago on the basis of openness and collaboration between nations. All of our results are made publicly available. The laboratory provides facilities that are used by scientists working at over 500 Universities and institutes around the world, and CERN plays a strong role in promoting peaceful dialogue between nations through science.
CERN does not carry out research in the fields of nuclear power or nuclear weaponry. Our field of research is particle physics and addresses fundamental questions about the nature of matter and the Universe. In the course of our research, we use the kind of radioactive sources that are commonly found in hospitals and in industry, and we apply standard security procedures to their handling. CERN does not possess materials that could be used for terrorism.
The person who was arrested on Thursday is an employee of one of CERN’s user institutes, carrying out research on behalf of that institute as a member of the LHCb experimental collaboration. He is not a CERN employee. CERN grants access to its facilities to scientists working at all our user institutes. The standard visa procedures of CERN’s host states (France and Switzerland) apply to visiting scientists. Much of the CERN site consists of office space, and resembles any University campus. CERN controls access to all areas under its domain, and has particularly strict access protocols for areas deemed sensitive for personal or operational safety. The person arrested on Thursday did not have access to any such areas.
CERN is providing all the support requested by its host states, in particular by the French police in this enquiry.
October 10, 2009
Physicists Wait for ‘Surprises’ of LHC
Published On 10/9/2009 12:46:00 AM
By ALISSA M D’GAMA < >
and HUMA N. SHAH < >
Crimson Staff Writers
Public fanfare greeted the activation last year of the Large Hadron
Collider, the massive particle accelerator that physicists hope will
herald a leap forward for the field.
But the initial excitement was short lived: a helium leak only nine days
after the LHC was switched on led to an explosion that postponed data
collection along with the careers of graduate students and postdoctoral
fellows an ocean away—including several at Harvard. In the next few
months, researchers plan to test the LHC a second time, in the hope that
their years of hard work will finally help unravel some of the mysteries
of the universe.
“Everybody in the physics community is looking forward to that with
great anticipation and Harvard is no exception,” said Christopher W.
Stubbs, chair of the Department of Physics.
The one-year delay has been an obstacle for graduate students whose
dissertation research depends on data from the LHC, and on postdoctoral
fellows and junior faculty hoping to secure appointments, said Stubbs.
“It’s an extra year of their life and it’s a terrible thing, but when
you try and do anything for the first time you have to be prepared for
something unexpected,” said Thomas J. LeCompte, the physics coordinator
of a key LHC experiment. “This is why I personally don’t do space
physics—if your satellite explodes on the launch pad you’re in even
Other professors echoed LeCompte’s sentiments and said they tried to
find suitable topics for their graduate students to pursue while waiting
for the LHC to be up and running. “There are certainly students that
have had their careers substantially delayed by this—it’s a real worry
for them and I’m extremely sympathetic,” said John Huth, a professor of
physics and a member of the Harvard team associated with the LHC’s ATLAS
experiment. “Everybody is just chewing their nails about it, but they’re
the ones who are most strongly affected.”
Even when the LHC does regain function, the future is far from assured.
Paradoxically, if all goes exactly according to plan, scientists could
find themselves no better off than before. “Even if it does work, if
they turn it on and find nothing new at all—if they don’t find [the
hitherto unseen] Higgs Boson, for example, or if they find stuff they
expect to discoverer and nothing else, it is unclear what the future of
that field is,” said Stubbs.
“The thing that we hope for the most is something that is completely
surprising and confusing,” said LeCompte. “In science you don’t learn
anything by getting the answer you expect.”
The field, physicists say, is left hoping to witness something unforeseen.
‘SOMETHING HAS TO HAPPEN’
Located in a huge underground tunnel near Geneva, Switzerland, the LHC
is overseen by the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) in
collaboration with scientists in over 100 countries. There are six main
experiments that data collection at the LHC will service—each of which
will address a different question about particle physics, Lecompte said.
Harvard has had a “nontrivial” role in building the detectors that will
be used in the ALTAS project, said Stubbs.
The LHC itself consists of a 27-kilometer ring of superconducting
magnets, inside of which two beams of high-energy particles are collided
in a vacuum at very low temperature: -271 degrees Celsius, according to
When activated, the LHC will be used to examine a hole in what is known
as the Standard Model of particle physics—a theoretical framework that
is used to draw links between the four “fundamental forces” of the
universe and the 12 elementary particles on which those forces act.
Thus far, the Standard Model has only been able to account for the
behavior of three of the four fundamental forces—gravity has yet to be
integrated, explained Huth.
“Gravity seems to be a missing piece [that] we can’t quite get to work
with everything,” said Huth.
Huth added that physicists also do not know where mass comes from, but
the most likely hypothesis is that it is bestowed by a particle called
the Higgs Boson—which has never been observed.
When the particles in the LHC collide at high energies, “We’ll see huge
numbers of particles coming out and every so often there will be a very
rare collision that will produce some exotic form of matter,” said Huth.
It is through the analysis of this data that researchers hope to fill in
the missing theoretical pieces. “This energy scale is so interesting
because something has to happen,” added Huth. “At this energy scale, the
theory basically breaks down unless something new happens and we don’t
have a really good idea of what it is.”
The collisions may also produce or help explain the entity known as
“dark matter,” which is believed to compose 96 percent of the universe,
and “antimatter,” which has the same mass as matter but the opposite
electric charge, explained Huth. “The Higgs Boson is the simplest model
for explaining what happens in the theory and that’s what we’re
designing for,” said Huth. “We aren’t under any illusions that that’s
going to be the answer—a lot of us suspect nature will be more
complicated than that.”
WAITING ON SURPRISES
Unfortunately for Huth, the mysteries of nature have had to be put on
hold while the LHC is repaired.
When scientists were running currents through the device’s magnets in
2008, soon after its completion, a breakdown known as a “quench”
occurred that caused overheating, said Joao Guimaraes da Costa, an
assistant professor of physics and a member of the Harvard ATLAS team.
This failure allowed helium gas to leak into the vacuum and explode,
moving the magnets and destroying a large area of the experiment, added
The magnets are now in the midst of the long cooling process back
towards absolute zero temperatures, and the LHC is slated to be turned
on again late this year or in early 2010.
In the meantime, scientists are bracing themselves for the unknown.
“Nature is infinitely resourceful,” wrote James D. Wells, a member of
the CERN theory group, in a recent e-mail from England, “and will keep
us very busy no matter what surprises the LHC reveals.
October 10, 2009
Reminder: Media Training at CERN in Oct and Nov
Media trainings at CERN for US personnel
In anticipation of increased media interest in the LHC during the period
surrounding restart and first collisions, two media trainings are being
organized at CERN for US personnel. The half-day trainings, which will
take place October 16 and November 11, will be led by US LHC
communicator Katie Yurkewicz. To sign up, or for more information,
please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
*US LHC Media Training details:*
Friday, October 16
CERN, Room B (61-1-009)
Training: 9:00 a.m. -12:00 p.m.
Optional one-on-one practice interviews in the afternoon (sign up for
interview slot during morning session)
Enrollment limited to 12 people
Wednesday, November 11
CERN, Room B (61-1-009)
Training: 9:00 a.m. -12:00 p.m.
Optional one-on-one practice interviews immediately following the
training (sign up for interview slot during morning session)
Enrollment limited to 10 people
US LHC Media Training purpose and objectives:
/To increase participants’ understanding of how to effectively
communicate through the media/
By the end of the session, participants will:
- Have received a general overview of how the media works (radio, TV,print)
- Be able to explain briefly what makes news and why
- Be able to define ‘key messages’ and ‘sound bites’ in general terms
- Understand the importance of preparing for interactions with media
- Have gained clarity on how to successfully present one’s work to media
- Be able to identify components of a successful interview
- Understand where to go for assistance and resources for dealing with
the media as a US LHC scientist
October 10, 2009
Fourth Expat-Expo Geneva
Sunday October 11, 2009, 11:00am – 5:00pm
Palexpo, Hall 7
Route des Batailleux 7
October 9, 2009
FYI Nr. 121: President Obama on S&T
During the last three weeks President Obama has devoted considerable time to discussing the benefits of science and technology. On September 21, Obamathe value of basic research at a community college in New York. The following week he was at the National Institutes of Health and remarked:
“We know that the work you do would not get done if left solely to the private sector. Some research does not lend itself to quick profit. And that’s why places like the NIH were founded. And that’s why my administration is making a historic commitment to research and the pursuit of discovery. And that’s why today we’re announcing that we’ve awarded $5 billion – that’s with a ‘b’ – in grants through the Recovery Act to conduct cutting-edge research all across America, to unlock treatments to diseases that have long plagued humanity, to save and enrich the lives of people all over the world. This represents the single largest boost to biomedical research in history.”
He later added:
“Breakthroughs in medical research take far more than the occasional flash of brilliance, as important as that can be. Progress takes time; it takes hard work; it can be unpredictable; it can require a willingness to take risks and going down some blind alleys occasionally – figuring out what doesn’t work is sometimes as important as figuring out what does – all of this needs the support of government. It holds promise like no other area of human endeavor, but we’ve got to make a commitment to it.”
On Wednesday, the White House hosted two science-related events. That night, the White House hosted an astronomy event on the back lawn of the White House. In brief remarks to assembled students the President said:
“So there are a lot of mysteries left and there are a lot of problems for you students to solve. And I want to be a President who makes sure you have the teachers and the tools that you need to solve them. And that’s why we’re working to reinvigorate math and science in your schools and attract new and qualified math and science teachers into your classrooms, some with lifetimes of experience. That’s why we’ve launched a Race to the Top to raise standards and upgrade your curricula and improve teaching and learning in math and science. That’s why we’re making a college education more affordable, so that by the time many of you graduate in 2020, America will once again have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world. And that’s how we’ll move American students to the top of the pack in math and in science over the next decade, and guarantee that America will lead the world in discovery in this new century.”
Earlier in the day, President Obama awarded the National Medal of Science and National Medal of Technology and Innovation. In the 25 minute East Room ceremony, the President told the thirteen:
“So this nation owes all of you an enormous debt of gratitude far greater than any medal can bestow. And we recognize your contributions, but we also celebrate the incredible contributions of the scientific endeavor itself. We see the promise – not just for our economy but for our health and well-being – in the human capacity for creativity and ingenuity. And we are reminded of the power of free and open inquiry, which is not only at the heart of all of your work, but at the heart of this experiment we call America.”
He later said:
“At such a difficult moment, there are those who say we can’t afford to invest in science, that it’s a luxury at a moment defined by necessities. I could not disagree more. Science is more essential for our prosperity, our security, and our health, and our way of life than it has ever been. And the winners we are recognizing only underscore that point, with achievements in physics and medicine, computer science and cognitive science, energy technology and biotechnology. We need to ensure that we are encouraging the next generation of discoveries — and the next generation of discoverers.
“That’s why my administration has set this goal: by investing in education, funding basic and applied research, and spurring private innovation, we will devote 3 percent of our gross domestic product to research and development. That’s more than at any point in recent history.
“And as part of this effort, we’re putting in place policies that will move us from the middle to the top of the pack in math and science education over the next decade. We are challenging states to dramatically improve achievement by raising standards, by improving the use of technology, and by making it possible for professionals like our honorees to bring a lifetime of experience and enthusiasm into the classroom. And we’ve also launched a Race to the Top fund to encourage states to compete for the most innovative programs in math and science, as part of a broader effort to foster new ways of engaging young people in these fields.
“The White House is participating, too. Tonight, in fact, we’re bringing children to the South Lawn for a night of astronomy. I am really looking forward to this. This is going to be fun. They’ll peer through telescopes, wander through exhibits, and hopefully feel a sense of wonder that might one day lead them here to receive a medal themselves.
“And my administration has set another goal to compete for the jobs of the future and to encourage the scientists and engineers of the future. By 2020, America will once again have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world. We used to be number one. We have fallen behind. We are going to regain our position.
“To meet this goal, we’ve increased the Pell Grant and passed legislation through the House – which we’re working to pass through the Senate – to end more than $80 billion in wasteful subsidies to lenders and use that money instead to help students.
“Beyond the classroom, the Recovery Act that we passed is funding the largest single boost to biomedical research in history. My budget makes the research and experimentation tax credit permanent to help companies afford the often high cost of innovation. I’ve proposed eliminating the capital gains tax for investments in startups and small companies — because countless big ideas begin in small businesses. And we are doubling our capacity in renewable energy, even as we seek to create a system of incentives to make clean energy the profitable kind of energy in America.”
The President continued:
“That’s the incredible promise of the work scientists do every day — like the scientists, researchers, and engineers, and innovators we honor with these medals. Yes, scientific progress offers us a chance to achieve prosperity and defend our nation. It has offered us benefits that have improved our lives and our health — improvements that we often take for granted. But it also gives us something more. At root, science forces us to reckon with the truth as best as we can ascertain it, and to reckon with the power that comes from this knowledge — for good and for ill. With each new discovery brings new responsibility to move past our differences and to address our shared problems; to embrace a sense of wonder, and our common humanity.”
For more info,
October 1, 2009
New CERN Shuttle Timetable
October 1, 2009
FYI Including FY2010 NNSA Appropriations Bill
October 1, 2009
DOE Grad Student Fellowships
October 1, 2009
Personal Residence Liability
A reminder to HEP employees residing in the CERN host states region about the tenants; laws although the natives may already know them. Homeowner and rental laws vary worldwide and it is important to know that as a renter in order to protect yourself from any unseen catastrophe that may happen to the rental facility, you should carry the proper insurance.
By law the owner must cover the infrastructure but the tenant is responsible is to cover the liability of the house and the Men’age liability.
October 1, 2009
Info Concerning the CERN Housing Service
As announced during the last ACCU meeting, the new web site of the CERN Housing Service is now in production including:
-Corporate rates for hotels in the local area
-Private rental sector
And can be find under the following link:
October 1, 2009
Budget Brits take on Cern in hunt for secrets of universe