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Brookhaven | Long Island, NY | USA

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Brookhaven Lab Welcomes You to the New Quantum Diaries

“Hello” from Brookhaven National Laboratory, the land of quarks, nanoparticles, proteins, superconductors, and lots of deer and wild turkeys. We’re really excited to be a part of this new version of Quantum Diaries along with our friends from CERN, Fermilab, and TRIUMF. Through this blog, we’ll focus on one very important piece of Brookhaven’s multidisciplinary research portfolio: physics.

The independent discovery of the J/psi by Samuel Ting (front) of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, at BNL's Alternating Gradient Synchrotron, and by Burton Richter, of the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center, earned its co-discoverers the 1976 Nobel Prize in physics. Shown with Ting in this photo are members of his experimental team.

From its early history, Brookhaven Lab has played a leading role in the exploration of matter and the early universe through groundbreaking nuclear and particle physics experiments. In fact, five of the Lab’s seven Nobel Prizes were awarded for physics research.

Today, Brookhaven continues this leadership role through several large-scale facilities on our site and around the world. At the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC), a 2.4-mile particle racetrack, scientists collide beams of “heavy ions” – the nuclei of atoms as heavy as gold – to replicate conditions microseconds after the Big Bang. This research has led to a series of stunning discoveries, including quark-gluon plasma, a “perfect”-liquid state of matter that permeated the early universe.  In addition to colliding heavy ions, RHIC is able to collide single protons to reveal details about a puzzling property called “spin.”

Across the Atlantic, at CERN, Brookhaven physicists are playing key roles in the world’s newest, largest, and highest-energy particle accelerator, the Large Hadron Collider(LHC). Brookhaven is the U.S. host laboratory for the ATLAS detector collaboration at the LHC as well as the Tier-1 computing facility for distributing ATLAS data to scientists across the country. BNL physicists also are heavily involved in data analysis and future upgrades.

As a partner in the Daya Bay Neutrino Experiment in China, BNL will explore the mysterious physics of neutrinos — uncharged and extremely elusive elementary particles that “oscillate,” or switch, between three types. Daya Bay will try to measure an unknown parameter (called θ13) that characterizes mixing between the lightest and heaviest neutrinos.

PHENIX is one of two massive detectors at Brookhaven's Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (the other is called STAR). In the photo, PHENIX is peeled open for maintenance.

BNL researchers will further explore neutrino properties with the proposed Long Baseline Neutrino Experiment, which, in its current design, would send a beam of neutrinos from Fermilab to a mine in South Dakota. Brookhaven physicists are leading the development of the water Cherenkov detector for this experiment and also are heavily involved in the design of the liquid argon detector. Together, these neutrino catchers will investigate whether neutrino interactions can explain the asymmetry between matter and antimatter in our universe.

On the cosmology front, BNL physicists are part of the Sloan Digital Sky Survey III (SDSS-III) collaboration, where they’re searching for dark energy through the Baryon Oscillation Spectroscopic Survey (BOSS). In addition, Brookhaven is leading the development of a multi-gigapixel focal plane detector for the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST), a massive telescope located in Chile designed to image the entire visible southern sky. Data collected from LSST will help researchers determine the dark matter distribution in the universe as well as the nature of dark energy.

We’ll talk in more detail about all of these scientific endeavors and physics culture through news stories, photos, videos, and personal posts from BNL scientists (see intro posts from Anže Slosar and Guillaume Robert-Demolaize). We hope you’ll join in the conversation.

-Kendra Snyder, Brookhaven Media & Communications

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