Jerald Pinson

Jerald Pinson is a science writing intern in the Fermilab Office of Communication.

Scientists have begun operating the Dark Energy Spectroscopic Instrument, or DESI, to create a 3-D map of over 30 million galaxies and quasars that will help them understand the nature of dark energy. The new instrument is the most advanced of its kind, with 5,000 robotic positioners that will enable scientists to gather more than 20 times more data than previous surveys. Researchers at Fermilab helped develop the software that will direct these positioners to focus on galaxies several billion light-years away and are currently in the process of fine-tuning the programs used before the last round of testing later this year.

Hadrons count among their number the familiar protons and neutrons that make up our atoms, but they are much more than that.

The discovery of the muon originally confounded physicists. Today international experiments are using the previously perplexing particle to gain a new understanding of our world.

An international team of theoretical physicists have published their calculation of the anomalous magnetic moment of the muon. Their work expands on a simple yet richly descriptive equation that revolutionized physics almost a century ago and that may aid scientists in the discovery of physics beyond the Standard Model. Now the world awaits the result from the Fermilab Muon g-2 experiment.

Fermilab is currently upgrading its accelerator complex to produce the world’s most powerful beam of high-energy neutrinos. To generate these particles, the accelerators will send an intense beam of protons traveling near the speed of light through a maze of particle accelerator components before passing through metallic “windows” and colliding with a stationary target. Researchers are testing the endurance of windows made of a titanium alloy, exposing samples to high-intensity proton beams to see how well the material will perform.

On the east side of the Fermilab grounds, a few large, stately honey locust trees grow directly over the bike path, where they dump most of their pendulous, spiral bean pods in the fall and winter. Photo: szántó

If you live in the Chicago suburbs and have ever taken a walk on the Fermilab hike-and-bike trail along Batavia Road, you’ve probably noticed large trees with long, slender bean pods, which — even after they fall to the ground — are ignored by wildlife. Not that long ago, mammoths, mastodons and giant ground sloths roamed the Fermilab grounds and feasted on these bean pods, along with the fruit of two additional species that still can be found growing on site.

When scientists begin taking data with the Deep Underground Neutrino Experiment in the mid-2020s, they’ll be able to peer 13.8 billion years into the past and address one of the biggest unanswered questions in physics: Why is there more matter than antimatter? To do this, they’ll send a beam of neutrinos on an 800-mile journey from Fermilab to Sanford Underground Research Facility in South Dakota. To detect neutrinos, researchers at several DOE national laboratories, including Fermilab, are developing integrated electronic circuitry that can operate in DUNE’s detectors — at temperatures around minus 200 degrees Celsius. They plan to submit their designs this summer.

Missing March Madness? Let Fermilab fill a small part of the void created in these times of social distancing and shelter-in-place. Participate in Fermilab’s sendup of the NCAA tournament: March Magnets. Learn about eight different types of magnets used in particle physics, each with an example from a project or experiment in which Fermilab is a player. Then head over to the Fermilab Twitter feed on March 30 to participate in our March Magnets playoffs.