A very famous rock band is filming at CERN for their forthcoming world tour, and they have been filming at AEgIS today!

Updates to follow...

Kickstarter hackathon... we'll be going!

Kickstarter is well known for crowd-funding technological projects, but physicists are not yet among their success stories. To change this, and to encourage scientists to formulate their projects in ways that could be attractive to potential supporters, and to explore new ways in which to involve the public in the day-to-day workings of science, kickstarter, together with the Citizen Cyberscience Center and ITP of the NYU Tisch School of the Arts, and supported by the Alfred P. Sloan foundation, are organizing a hackathon at the end of the month of February, 2015, and called for scientists to submit projects.

We submitted a project (called Ice Drop, since the goal of AEgIs is to drop some very cold antihydrogen) on building a set-up to test the idea of laser-cooling of negative ions, in order to later use this technique to cool antiprotons to very low temperatures, and to better measure gravity with antihydrogn atoms.

Today, we found out that we are among the 15 science projects that will participate in the hackathon! The event page is here.

Kickstarter update... 7/3/2015

The hackathon was amazing and intense, taking place over a weekend, with volunteers from all fields, helping set up dozens of potential kickstarter projects. The kickstarter community and the volunteers were hugely supportive, and we are doing everything to complete and launch the first-ever kickstarter project in fundamental physics before summer. More info in April...

Radio interview about crowd sourcing of particle physics data analysis...

Today, the Swiss radio RSR broadcast a program called "Crowdcrafting... ou la science citoyenne" on their science program CQFD, during which our project was covered together with a project by UNOSAT, also at CERN.

To listen to the corresponding segment of the program, here is the link:
The whole program can be listened to here:

Beta release of crowd sourcing of particle physics data analysis...

The work by the programmers made possible by Socientize a few months ago has now converged, and we now are ready for a beta release. Today, a preview of this release has been sent out to high school teachers from around the world (from Japan , China, Iran, Israel, different countries in Europe to Canada and the USA) in 30 different schools.

This pre-release is geared first to the high school teachers (we've also added links to other educational resources talking about high energy physics) so that they can incorporate the background information and challenges in their teaching activities, perhaps bring their students to work on the data and help us discover it and understand it better, and help us improve the overall project. A sneak preview of the portal is here.

The timing of this release (by chance) coincides with the second round of antiproton annihilation data taking: just last week, we exposed a new set of emulsions with different target materials, and of course, a first look into the data shows that we have no annihilations. We're hard at work trying to figure out what went wrong, and have scheduled a second attempt in 2 weeks time to try again; last night, we did a full scan of the amount of material that our antiproton beam goes through in 2 micron steps, to see exactly how much material we have to leave in their path to slow them down enough to stop just in the top one or two micron of the photographic plate, but not too much that they don't reach it any more. Tricky ;)

Update 1/12/2014

Our new data sets with thinned entrance foil now show annihilations in the emulsions! Adding just a few micron of gold foil in front of the emulsion moves the point of annihilation into the metal foil. We're now taking data with a whole range of different foils, from Aluminum to Lead, in which the antiprotons will thus annihilate in the metal foils, just a few microns away from the emulsion tracker. A first look show that we have around 1000 annihilations per foil type to work with.

A moiré deflectometer for antimatter

Today, we have just published the successful outcome of a test of a method to measure a very small deflection (smaller than the thickness of a human hair) of a beam of antiprotons, the antimatter counterpart of the proton. This is achieved by putting arrays of fine slits in the path of the beam (leftmost figure below), allowing only certain trajectories to pass these obstacles and to hit a detector. The arrival point of the surviving antiprotons is recorded with an emulsion detector that, like a photographic film, takes snap-shots of the antiprotons’ annihilation – the process in which antimatter and matter meet and subsequently reform into other particles. An example of such an “annihilation star” can be seen in the figure in the center, below. These arrival positions are then compared to fringes of light produced by the same slits (rightmost figure below) – making it possible to determine the force that deflected the antiprotons. It is interesting that this method, called morié deflectometry, only needs very few particles to work and is therefore ideal for rare particles such as antimatter.

This demonstration results from the effort of an interdisciplinary and multinational group of physicists, combining techniques from different fields of physics. In future experiments, we hope to employ this method to measure the effect of Earth's gravity on antihydrogen, a force that is much smaller that the electromagnetic force measured here.

Grant obtained to set up crowd sourcing of particle physics data analysis...

After the successful web fest [see the blog entry below this one], and the large interest that our ideas garnered, we decided to put in a funding request to Socientize, which works for Citizen Science in Europe, to pay consultants (programmers, communication specialists) to improve on the alpha release, and include the modifications that were suggested to us by the volunteers and the participants in the web fest project.

Today, the happy news is in: we have received funding to take the next step, improve the functionality of the project, ensure that the resulting data can be used directly in producing publishable results, work on the interactivity and provide tools to allow two-way communication between the scientists and the volunteers looking at the data, to keep everybody up to date and involved.

Crowd sourcing particle physics data analysis...

How do you pitch a crowd-crafting idea to a bunch of enthusiastic and expert summer students who have a smorgasboard of possible projects to choose from? With 3 minutes to explain the background, the technique, the idea and make an appeal for volunteers to spend the next 48 hours (from Friday to Sunday) in putting together a prototype, prepare a presentation and compete for an award by Sunday evening at CERN's 2013 web-fest?

Annihilation of antiprotons in emulsion
In the end, quite a few students, a range of programmers, communicators and physicists, caught the spark and worked really hard to set up a draft design and interface, write a tutorial and make a jab at adding the required functionality, and completed the job in time to present the finished project to all the participants and an international jury! It's all here.

It turns out that the project was really succesful, since it was discovered by the social networks and the media, and led to several hundred volunteers immediately exhausting the small data sample that we could provide for these first tests. But this confirmed us in the interest that the public has in participating in analyzing our data, so we are looking into transforming this first test into a full-fledged portal that our emulsion data will be uploaded to.