Jerald Pinson

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

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.

Accelerator magnets — how do they work? Depending on the number of poles a magnet has, it bends, shapes or shores up the stability of particle beams as they shoot at velocities close to the speed of light. Experts design magnets so they can wield the beam in just the right way to yield the physics they’re after. Here’s your primer on particle accelerator magnets.

One of the most difficult problems to overcome in developing a quantum computer is finding a way to maintain the lifespan of information held in quantum bits, called qubits. Researchers at Fermilab and Argonne National Laboratory are working to determine whether devices used in particle accelerators can help solve the problem. The team will run simulations on high-performance computers that will enable them to predict the lifespan of information held within these qubits using smaller versions of these devices, taking us one step closer to the age of quantum computing.

In an educational turning of the tables, first- through fifth-graders evaluated Fermilab scientists’ abilities to illuminate and educate at their school’s first reverse science fair. Three competing groups of scientists demoed neutrino detection, muon precession and particle acceleration in fun, accessible ways, and the elementary school students got to decide who received the blue ribbon.