• John
  • Felde
  • University of Maryland
  • USA

Latest Posts

  • USLHC
  • USLHC
  • USA

  • James
  • Doherty
  • Open University
  • United Kingdom

Latest Posts

  • Andrea
  • Signori
  • Nikhef
  • Netherlands

Latest Posts

  • CERN
  • Geneva
  • Switzerland

Latest Posts

  • Aidan
  • Randle-Conde
  • Université Libre de Bruxelles
  • Belgium

Latest Posts

  • TRIUMF
  • Vancouver, BC
  • Canada

Latest Posts

  • Laura
  • Gladstone
  • MIT
  • USA

Latest Posts

  • Steven
  • Goldfarb
  • University of Michigan

Latest Posts

  • Fermilab
  • Batavia, IL
  • USA

Latest Posts

  • Seth
  • Zenz
  • Imperial College London
  • UK

Latest Posts

  • Nhan
  • Tran
  • Fermilab
  • USA

Latest Posts

  • Alex
  • Millar
  • University of Melbourne
  • Australia

Latest Posts

  • Ken
  • Bloom
  • USLHC
  • USA

Latest Posts

David Schmitz | Fermilab | USA

View Blog | Read Bio

A string of great seminars

One great thing about the academic environment and being at a university or major laboratory like Fermilab is the regular series of lectures and seminars that such places host.  Top people from a variety of fields are constantly coming through to talk about their work and share their experiences. Fermilab, for example, has a colloquium every Wednesday at 4:00, which can be on essentially any topic, a general research seminar on Fridays at 4:00, several more focused seminars each week, and special one-time presentations get scheduled regularly.  The people who organize all of these series really do an incredible job of maintaining a schedule of interesting talks.

Working at a place like Fermilab, however, it is very easy to begin to take these opportunities for granted.  How is it I am always in the middle of something sooooo important at 4:00PM every Wednesday and Friday?  Well, the answer is that I am always too busy, so one must just make the decision to make the time.  At least twice a week, often more, I am a 15 second elevator ride from learning something new and exciting from an expert in their field and I try very hard not to miss the opportunity.

Nobel Laureate Leon Lederman giving a Heilborn Lecture at Northwestern University this week.

Nobel Laureate Leon Lederman giving a Heilborn Lecture at Northwestern University this week.

This week serves as a notable example of these opportunities, and I am thankful I didn’t think I was “too busy” to attend.  On Wednesday I ventured up to the campus of Northwestern University where Leon Lederman was giving a series of Heilborn Lectures hosted by the Physics and Astronomy Department.  Prof. Lederman is a true icon in the field and a treat to hear speak.  He has a great sense of humor and seems to know an incredible number of jokes from memory!

One of Prof. Lederman's hand written slides showing the parity concept for muon decay.

One of Prof. Lederman's hand written slides showing the parity concept for muon decay.

Perhaps the best part were his hand written slides.  In physics, like many fields I imagine, one of our most finely tuned skills these days is in the use of Power Point. I care not to think of the number of hours I spend each week with a Power Point session open.  Prof. Lederman’s lecture told the tale (both personal and technical) of how he and a few colleagues once showed that parity is not conserved in the weak interaction (a VERY major discovery in physics) in about 36 hours from idea to data analysis.  36 hours!  The idea for the LHC probably came 20 years ago and they haven’t collected any data yet.   His slides really added to the personal form of the tale.  This happened back in 1957, by the way – I wonder when he first wrote out these slides.

Architect, James Carpenter, showing us their 'Light Pipe' design in between two 14 story buildings in Wshington D.C.

Architect, James Carpenter, showing us their 'Light Pipe' design in between two 14 story buildings in Washington D.C.

The next lecture this week was at Fermilab given by, of all people, an architect. The lab’s Deputy Director, Young-Kee Kim, invited James Carpenter from James Carpenter Design Associates Inc. to present his talk entitled “Constructing the Ephemeral” where he took us on a tour through images of buildings his firm has designed all over the world. In each design they made use of light and glass in interesting, creative new ways. In the photo to the left Mr. Carpenter is standing in front of an image of their ‘Light Pipe’ design. It is situated in a narrow space between two 14 story buildings in Washington D.C. A heliostat, a mirrored plane which tracks the sun across the sky, is mounted on the roof of one of the buildings and reflects light into the top of the 150 ft. tall cylinder lined with reflective prism shaped glass strips resulting in an incredible amount of light being ‘piped’ into this narrow, dark space.

The speaker, Patrick Huber, just before beginning his Extreme Beam Lecture on "NOvA and Beyond".

The speaker, Patrick Huber, just before beginning his Extreme Beam Lecture on "NOvA and Beyond".

Finally, yesterday was the third in a series of lectures here at Fermilab called ‘Extreme Beam’. Each lecture focuses on the physics that we could do at Fermilab with the construction of a new very high intensity proton beam facility – the extreme beam. Such intense beams are very challenging particle accelerator technical challenges, but allow the ability to search for very, very rare processes in particle physics – one pathway to new physics beyond the current Standard Model.  The intensity of your proton beam is also directly related to the intensity of the neutrino beam that you can create, so yeaterday’s talk by Patrick Huber focused on the physics you can probe with such an intense neutrino source here at Fermilab and enormous neutrino detectors built half-way across the country in South Dakota!

So, it’s been a good week for lectures here at the Laboratory.  But the truth is, its more the norm than the exception, so these will keep me showing up for a while until I forget and get “too busy” again.

Share