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104 Notes

Need a way to map elemental compositions and have the results be both revelatory and stunning? We’ve got you covered.

The shades of neon fluorescence in these images correspond to the distribution of different elements. Using the new Maia detector at the Cornell High Energy Synchrotron Source (CHESS), we can track the way an incident x-ray beam causes these materials to emit thousands of secondary x-rays that carry the signatures of the local atoms.

The clincher is that all these images—produced by scanning x-ray fluorescence microscopy—were just part of the commissioning process. Basically, the synchrotron scientists called their friends and asked them for samples to confirm the capabilities of the Maia detector. And, you know, it revealed awesome stuff.

Take the Great Blue Heron feather up top—we can see concentrations of sulfur (red), calcium (green), and zinc (blue). Future scans can measure the elements and check for the influence of environmental toxins or pollutants.

Or look at the wings, legs, and antennae of the Asian longhorned beetle, an invasive and highly destructive species. Entomologists are developing a fungus to resist these bugs, and they can see concentrated calcium caused by the fungus and other elemental surprises that push entomology in new directions. And lovely as it all is, they’re just getting started.

31 Notes

The High Flux Beam Reactor (HFBR) was a small research reactor that operated at Brookhaven from 1965 through 1996 and provided a source of neutrons for multidisciplinary scientific research. The structure of the “protein factory” of the cell, the 16-part ribosome, was first revealed at the HFBR, as was the structure of myelin, the protein that coats nerve cells. In a series of experimental milestones, scientists using the HFBR determined the structures of the 23 amino acids that make up every protein in every cell in living things.
Just one of the Top Ten Things You Didn’t Know About Brookhaven National Laboratory. Check out the rest for a crash course on the Lab’s history, from creating the first video game to simulating space radiation.

68 Notes

One of the coolest huge machines at Brookhaven is the National Synchrotron Light Source, essentially an enormous x-ray microscope with dozens of experimental stations spread out around its edges. It produces x-rays 10,000 times stronger than the ones at your doctor’s office, and thousands of researchers from all over the world come to the Lab each year to use its light to reveal the secrets of all kinds of materials - from superconducting metals to biological molecules. 

The GIFs above were created by shining these potent x-rays at a lithium-ion battery (that’s what the battery in your phone is most likely made of) as it charges and discharges. Batteries degrade over time as microstructural changes create cracks or buildups that stop the flow of electricity. 

For the first time, scientists have been able to capture three-dimensional images at the nanoscale (that’s billionths of a meter) of a test battery while it’s charging and discharging. What they found is that while the tin in the battery anode is degraded significantly between the first and second charging cycles, it’s stable during subsequent cycles. Armed with this knowledge, industry can aim to design better batteries that last longer. Thanks, Science!

762 Notes

This is pretty mind-blowing news. A game changer.

Brookhaven astrophysicist Anže Slozar reacting to the first evidence of gravitational waves from the Big Bang, reported this morning from the BICEP2 experiment at the South Pole.

The stunning result shows that cosmic inflation theory — the idea that the universe underwent an extremely rapid and violent expansion in its early moments — can be proven through direct observation of ripples in the light from the Big Bang. The BICEP2 team found patterns of swirls caused by gravitational waves in the cosmic microwave background, light left over from the birth of the universe. 

Slozar goes on: “If confirmed this will most likely be a Nobel prize. People always hoped to detect gravity waves from the early universe to learn about inflation, but nobody had an idea how strong they might be and nobody dared to hope that they might be as bright as the BICEP2 data suggest. (In fact, they are so bright that they evade some earlier limits from a different measurement, so obviously we are not at the end of the story). Again, the signal is so strong that we can really go and characterize it and learn a lot about the early universe and fundamental physics.”

618 Notes

It’s a long and winding road for the particles that recreate the Big Bang. Check out this view of the twists and turns ions take to get into our atom smasher, the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider.

At RHIC, heavy ions start their journey toward the rings in a linear accelerator — in this animation it’s the awesomely named Tandem van de Graaff that’s boosting the particles, which just recently retired from its duties at RHIC. The ions then get kicked into a small booster ring, where they pick up speed and head to the Alternating Gradient Synchrotron. That’s an even bigger ring, and to get these particles to practically the speed of light, we have to sling them around the AGS until they’re fast enough to enter the 2-mile RHIC ring and head in opposite directions toward their ultimate head-on collision. 

It’s a long and winding road for the particles that recreate the Big Bang. Check out this view of the twists and turns ions take to get into our atom smasher, the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider.

At RHIC, heavy ions start their journey toward the rings in a linear accelerator — in this animation it’s the awesomely named Tandem van de Graaff that’s boosting the particles, which just recently retired from its duties at RHIC. The ions then get kicked into a small booster ring, where they pick up speed and head to the Alternating Gradient Synchrotron. That’s an even bigger ring, and to get these particles to practically the speed of light, we have to sling them around the AGS until they’re fast enough to enter the 2-mile RHIC ring and head in opposite directions toward their ultimate head-on collision. 

111 Notes

If you keep going up, there’s nothing that says you couldn’t make a lightsaber. Where science fiction comes into play is that this is something you could keep in a handle that fits into your waistband.

-Andrew Zwicker, physicist at Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory

Way to rain on the most awesome of all future parades, Andrew. We’re kidding, of course, because what scientists actually have is too good to be true: miniature atmospheric plasma swords. Seriously.

“When you look at the lightsaber, it’s almost certainly a plasma weapon,” says PPPL’s Zwicker. In fact, other researchers have created an atmospheric plasma (a plasma that’s not inside in a container) that looks like a very small lightsaber and could have a number of environmental and medical applications. “If you keep the energy low, you may be able to one day sterilize a wound with a little plasma pen that would be enough to kill bacteria, but not harm flesh,” says Zwicker.

Creating larger and more powerful atmospheric plasmas could lead to a plasma scalpel that could cut, cauterize and sanitize at the same time.

More on that magic and the plausibility of an antimatter-powered superluminal space craft in this story from our friends at the Department of Energy.

144 Notes

See that dark red mark in the center? That’s the 11-nanometer focusing precision of the latest multilayer Laue lens (MLL) designed to focus x-rays at our National Synchrotron Light Source II.Here’s the word from Nathalie Bouet, the Brookhaven Lab scientist in charge of growing these lenses: “The overall thickness accuracy for this MLL is insanely high – better than the size ratio of a penny to the height of the Empire State Building!”Not crazy enough? Just consider that the lens itself is composed of 6,510 individual light-bending layers, some just 4 nanometers thick! This engineering marvel will allow our scientists to peer inside materials on tinier scales than ever before. 

See that dark red mark in the center? That’s the 11-nanometer focusing precision of the latest multilayer Laue lens (MLL) designed to focus x-rays at our National Synchrotron Light Source II.

Here’s the word from Nathalie Bouet, the Brookhaven Lab scientist in charge of growing these lenses: “The overall thickness accuracy for this MLL is insanely high – better than the size ratio of a penny to the height of the Empire State Building!”

Not crazy enough? Just consider that the lens itself is composed of 6,510 individual light-bending layers, some just 4 nanometers thick! This engineering marvel will allow our scientists to peer inside materials on tinier scales than ever before. 

84 Notes

Using magnets, accelerators can steer these charged particles left, right, up, and down and vary the energy of the beam to precisely place the cell-killing energy right where it’s needed: in the tumor.
Extraordinary things are happening at the intersection of accelerator physics and cancer therapy.

92 Notes

Get your groove on for science! This little robot is helping kids get amped for science and engineering as part of a Long Island education program where students learn programming. Brookhaven is part of the Long Island STEM Hub, which celebrated its first anniversary last year with a robot dance party and a display of student research and local STEM career opportunities. And we’re hoping to dance right into a future where New York becomes the next Silicon Valley.

Get your groove on for science! This little robot is helping kids get amped for science and engineering as part of a Long Island education program where students learn programming. Brookhaven is part of the Long Island STEM Hub, which celebrated its first anniversary last year with a robot dance party and a display of student research and local STEM career opportunities. And we’re hoping to dance right into a future where New York becomes the next Silicon Valley.

53 Notes

We’ve had a long, harsh winter at Brookhaven, as you can see from this picture of our new National Synchrotron Light Source II from a few weeks ago. We even got another half inch or so this morning, but at least we’ve got some majestic creatures roaming our 5,300 acres. Here’s to hunkering down, enjoying the snow, and hoping for spring to come soon. 

62 Notes

Last month, Brookhaven Lab was part of Apple’s 1.24.14 video, which was shot at 15 locations around the globe in one day, including right here at our Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider. Keep an eye out during the video (at 00:47) for a shot of Brookhaven physicists working at our stunning atom smasher. We’re proud to be repping Big Science in this groundbreaking video.

Last month, Brookhaven Lab was part of Apple’s 1.24.14 video, which was shot at 15 locations around the globe in one day, including right here at our Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider. Keep an eye out during the video (at 00:47) for a shot of Brookhaven physicists working at our stunning atom smasher. We’re proud to be repping Big Science in this groundbreaking video.

1953 Notes

Back in 1969, thousands of Long Islanders came to Brookhaven to see a piece of the moon — a 12-gram chunk of a larger rock brought back to Earth by Apollo 11 astronauts. Scientists at the Lab analyzed many samples of lunar rocks and soil, finding that the rocks they examined had been on the moon’s surface for 30 to 50 million years. 
The young boy peering into the magnifying glass actually contacted us a few years ago. He remembered the event and having his picture taken even 35 years later. Our Lab has been inspiring young’uns for decades and today we educate nearly 40,000 students every year. 
(PS: You don’t have to be a grade-school kid to be floored by the simple fact that we brought back rocks from the moon.)

Back in 1969, thousands of Long Islanders came to Brookhaven to see a piece of the moon — a 12-gram chunk of a larger rock brought back to Earth by Apollo 11 astronauts. Scientists at the Lab analyzed many samples of lunar rocks and soil, finding that the rocks they examined had been on the moon’s surface for 30 to 50 million years. 

The young boy peering into the magnifying glass actually contacted us a few years ago. He remembered the event and having his picture taken even 35 years later. Our Lab has been inspiring young’uns for decades and today we educate nearly 40,000 students every year. 

(PS: You don’t have to be a grade-school kid to be floored by the simple fact that we brought back rocks from the moon.)

82 Notes

It’s tough to identify the real star of this photo. The Cockroft-Walton Accelerator—essentially a multi-level voltage multiplier—is certainly a striking piece of machinery. Starting in the 1960s, that curvaceous beauty provided the initial boost to protons before they raced on into the rings of our groundbreaking Alternating Gradient Synchrotron.But what about the scientists and engineers casually crushing it in 1988?

It’s tough to identify the real star of this photo. The Cockroft-Walton Accelerator—essentially a multi-level voltage multiplier—is certainly a striking piece of machinery. Starting in the 1960s, that curvaceous beauty provided the initial boost to protons before they raced on into the rings of our groundbreaking Alternating Gradient Synchrotron.

But what about the scientists and engineers casually crushing it in 1988?

61 Notes

Science happens here. Yes, most of that lush green is barren or covered in layers of ice and snow right now, but the cold doesn’t stop the experiments from blazing along. In fact, our ion collider (that 2.4-mile ring at the top) only runs in the winter when it doesn’t have to contend for power with air conditioners humming all over Long Island.
That’s the National Synchrotron Light Source II at the bottom left, and  smaller laboratories and support buildings fill the rest of our little haven. Check out the top edge of the photo for a glimpse of the blue water of the Long Island Sound.

Science happens here. Yes, most of that lush green is barren or covered in layers of ice and snow right now, but the cold doesn’t stop the experiments from blazing along. In fact, our ion collider (that 2.4-mile ring at the top) only runs in the winter when it doesn’t have to contend for power with air conditioners humming all over Long Island.

That’s the National Synchrotron Light Source II at the bottom left, and  smaller laboratories and support buildings fill the rest of our little haven. Check out the top edge of the photo for a glimpse of the blue water of the Long Island Sound.

45 Notes

We’re kicking things into high gear at the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider. Revving up for our next physics run, Brookhaven technician Mike Myers checks components of the stochastic cooling “kickers,” which generate electric fields to nudge ions in RHIC’s gold beams back into tightly packed bunches so they collide within our detectors as close to head-on as possible. This system of squeezing and cooling beams increases the rate of collisions between ions and improves the amount of data coming out of RHIC.

We’re kicking things into high gear at the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider. Revving up for our next physics run, Brookhaven technician Mike Myers checks components of the stochastic cooling “kickers,” which generate electric fields to nudge ions in RHIC’s gold beams back into tightly packed bunches so they collide within our detectors as close to head-on as possible. This system of squeezing and cooling beams increases the rate of collisions between ions and improves the amount of data coming out of RHIC.