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1 Career Exploration: Physics and Fermilab Joe Grange

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1 1 Career Exploration: Physics and Fermilab Joe Grange

2 Physics in a nutshell  We try to understand the physical world in terms of it’s most basic building blocks and how they interact ?? 2

3 3 p n e  Everything we see, feel or touch arises from a small number of ingredients

4 4 Amazing variety from such simple ingredients

5 5 And spectacular complexity…

6 20 th Century hubris: they thought they had it all figured out… 6 p n e  “In this field, almost everything is already discovered, and all that remains is to fill a few unimportant holes.” (1878) Johann Philipp Gustav von Jolly advising Max Planck not to pursue physics 1918

7 7  Planck went on to help develop quantum mechanics, receiving the Nobel prize in 1918  His theory not only described new phenomena, it also revolutionized the description of the atom that von Jolly was so happy with! 20 th Century hubris: they thought they had it all figured out…

8 Since then, (mostly) we’ve focused on going smaller and smaller… 8  1960s: protons and neutrons are not fundamental particles, they’re made of quarks! p n

9 Since then, (mostly) we’ve focused on going smaller and smaller… 9  By the way…

10 Since then, (mostly) we’ve focused on going smaller and smaller… 10  By the way…  Discovered at Fermilab!! (1995)

11 Fermilab and the top  2 detectors independently and jointly discovered the top quark 11

12 1970s: the standard model  Incredibly successful theory that has predicted almost every modern physics result 12  The standard model also predicts the existence of a particle that hasn’t been seen yet:

13 1970s: the standard model  Incredibly successful theory that has predicted almost every modern physics result 13  The standard model also predicts the existence of a particle that hasn’t been seen yet:

14 Search for Higgs 14  Large Hadron Collider on Swiss/French border only recently eclipsed Fermilab in terms of energy.  They are leading the search, and there have already been rumors about discovery…

15 Physics propaganda 15  In 2009 there were wild speculations that the Large Hadron Collider turning on might induce black holes that would swallow the Earth (!!!)  Part of the job training to be a physicist is learning how to think critically  (video clip)

16  Searching for new particles isn’t the only thing going on in modern physics.  Cosmic ray research very active field - we know they exist, but what creates them? Supernovae?  Fermilab astrophysics group heavily involved in the Auger observatory, Argentina (1200 sq. mile detection area) Speaking of those cosmic rays… 16

17 17

18 Cosmic rays have practical purposes too! 18  Very penetrating - can “x-ray” LARGE items  Historical rumors of hidden chambers in Gisa pyramid, cosmic rays can verify/refute!

19 Cosmic rays have practical purposes too!

20 Cosmic rays have practical purposes too!

21 Cosmic rays have practical purposes too!

22 What I do: neutrino physics 22  Neutrinos are kind of like electrons, except  Neutral “Neutr-”  VERY small mass “-ino”  Neutrinos change “flavors” as they travel e    !  One of the very few results not predicted by the standard model  Pinning down exactly how they change flavors and interact with matter is one of the most active fields in physics today

23 Neutrino detectors around the world 23  Neutrinos are so hard to detect we need massive amounts of “stuff” to make them interact, then we detect only the light given off by the particles they create Super Kamiokande, Kamioka Japan Houses 50,000 tons of ultra-pure water!!

24 Neutrino detectors around the world 24  Neutrinos are so hard to detect we need massive amounts of “stuff” to make them interact, then we detect only the light given off by the particles they create What the heck are those yellow ball-like things?

25  The detection mechanism of almost every neutrino experiment Photo-multiplier tubes  When photons (thought to be purely wave-like) are shined on atoms, electrons are “knocked out”.  19 th century physicists: “Photons can’t do that, only particles can!”  Particle-wave duality essential to quantum mechanics discovered! 1905, Albert Einstein

26  The detection mechanism of almost every neutrino experiment Photo-multiplier tubes  When photons (thought to be purely wave-like) are shined on atoms, electrons are “knocked-out”.  19 th century physicists: “Photons can’t do that, only particles can!”  Particle-wave duality essential to quantum mechanics discovered! 1905, Albert Einstein

27 Neutrino detectors around the world 27  The biggest detector in the world: “IceCube”  Use 1 cubic km (~1/4 cu. mi.) of ice as a neutrino detector!

28 Neutrino detectors around the world 28  The biggest detector in the world: “IceCube”

29 Neutrino detectors around the world 29  MiniBooNE and MINERvA: my experiments at Fermilab MiniBooNE MINERvA

30 What do I do? 30  Most of my time is spent programming - developing algorithms to extract information from data

31 What do I do? 31  But a big part of experimental physics is dealing with hardware and developing cutting-edge electronics  Most of the skills needed to succeed at these tasks are learned on the job  Photo taken Fall 2009, I got to spend ~2 months ~30 stories underground putting together the MINERvA detector

32 What do I do? 32  But a big part of experimental physics is dealing with hardware and developing cutting-edge electronics  Most of the skills needed to succeed at these tasks are learned on the job  Photo taken Fall 2009, I got to spend ~2 months ~30 stories underground putting together the MINERvA detector

33 How I got here - a typical path 33  Bachelor’s, Physics 2006 (minor Mathematics)  Math minor often req’d  Master’s of Science, 2009  First two years of graduate school can be very challenging - often > 12 hours of studying/teaching per day for a wide variety of topics  After course work completed, you specialize in the area you’re interested in  Still quite common to work/study > 12 hrs/per day, but (IMO) it’s much more fun! Working on new ideas, new data, etc.

34 Other very cool things in physics for the next generation… 34  Dark matter! NOT in the standard model  Image from the Hubble telescope: light seems to be distorted  General relativity (Einstein again!): That means there’s a whole bunch of mass there that we can’t see!  We should be able to detect it directly, but it hasn’t happened yet. (Very active field)

35 Other very cool things in physics for the next generation… 35  Dark energy!  Motivation: from a variety of sources, the universe seems to be expanding, when we expect it to be contracting since gravity is always attractive.  Dark energy predicted to be 74% of the universe, dark matter 22% - just 4% for stars, planets and us!

36 Other very cool things in physics for the next generation… 36  Dark matter and dark energy just conjecture for now - we think they exist in some form but maybe we have everything backwards and something totally different is the truth!  Must rigorously test these hypotheses before we can claim this is correct.

37 Other opportunities available to those with physicist training 37  Roughly 90% of PhD physicists end up in a field other than academia  Finance modeling  Software development  Defense  Science policy advisors  Medical physics

38 Some of the great technology advances made possible by physics research 38  World Wide Web  Not Al Gore!  Proton/neutron cancer therapy  Monitoring nuclear nuclear nonproliferation  Medical diagnostics  Power transmission  Superconducting wires much more efficient  Analyzing DNA/protein structures  Important for pharmaceutical development

39 It’s a very exciting time to do particle physics!! 39  Higgs discovery may be right around the corner (last particle discovery? Standard model says yes, history says no way)  Fully describing neutrino physics a hot topic  Dark matter / dark energy: who knows??  So many other topics I don’t have time to talk about

40 Opportunities at Fermilab 40  Saturday morning physics:  Specifically to teach high school students  Three sessions throughout school year - next session: October 2 thru December 4, 2010  Summer internships: get real experience dealing with detectors, data etc.  All full this summer though   If nothing else, looks awesome on college apps 

41 Come to Fermilab! 41  Free tour every Wednesday at 10:30am  “Ask a scientist” program every first Sunday of the month, 1pm  Short talk by a physicist followed by a tour, questions greatly encouraged!  Private tours available too (costs $$ though)  Or me, I’ll be happy to show you around!


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