The One and Only Friday Flyer - April 1, 2022

Spotlight on the Imaginary QuarkNet Center

QuarkNet is a complex program: therefore, it has not only a real part but also an imaginary part. Makes sense, huh? This is where the Imaginary QuarkNet Center comes in. Like the Virtual Center, it is not bound by geography, so don't ask where it is. Unlike any other center, though, it is also not bound by time. So don't ask when it is, either. Alright, if you must ask, it is in a sort of region of dusk. As we often do, we'll report now on the summer workshop because that is the material we have. The Imaginary Center summer workshop was online. However, some of the members cannot access Zoom as it has not been invented for them yet. So several used Vidyo and EVO, with some other members relying on the Aldis Lamp or using an even more ancient method to communicate. As you can guess, it was pretty much a disaster. Total train wreck. Nothing left standing, except a Commodore 64 trying to process VRVS. Then it fell over. However, the Imaginary Center did make a good showing in an OPERA masterclass, with students from Collinsport High School, Hogwarts School, and the Vulcan Science Academy. Lead Teachers Quentin Collins and Professor Snape* were enthusiastic about the results. The group also participated with a QuarkNet CRMD in studying the muonography of an ancient pyramid in Japan, where members discovered a hidden chamber that pre-dated the pyramid itself. It turns out that this chamber leads to a stairway in an old house in Collinsport, a hard-to-reach platform at King's Cross Station in London, and the Guardian of Forever. A side-tunnel seems to go to a medieval Japanese onsen, This discovery may help with an in-person summer workshop next year. Or not.

Proposed site of the 2022 Imaginary Center Summer Workshop. It can't be worse than 2021, can it?
Credit to Jiro, who dreams of photos.


* Actually, FF could not reach Professor Snape as he had left for a holiday in Mallorca. We can't connect while Snape's on a plane.


News from the QuarkNet News Network of News

[Cue stylized telegraph-teletype-sounding music with techie graphics.]

[Cut to anchor shuffling some papers with nothing on them or looking up from a laptop screen that might as well have the BSD.]

This just in. We have breaking news. We have reports. Sources tell us. Photon flux dies in darkness. QNNN of News World Service: the news, written by Ed Norton. So here is the news.

  • It is a week-and-half past the vernal equinox. Here in South Bend, Indiana, spring has sprung!
  • Fermilab is once again open to visitors and they look happy to be back.
  • CERN has a new competition combining the best of HST, ITW, and BL4S: CERN Boatline-Teachers, or BL-T. High school physics teachers make YouTube videos of themselves in rowboats. CERN judges the videos for speed, grace, and the paint job on the boat. Ten winners are then chosen to visit CERN, or DESY, or KEK, or Piccolo Sasso, or somewhere, where they run a particle physics experiment that uses a rowboat. Deadline TBA, so keep watch!
  • It turns out the Tholians invented the web before Tim Berners-Lee or DARPA.
  • QuarkNet has finally come up with a bookend to Data Camp, called Just the Facts, Camp. This first JFC (also known as the "Joe Friday Club") will meet in the city, Los Angeles, California, in summer AG 2023. This new camp will focus on the Laws of Physics, Important Constants, Unimportant Constants, Names, Dates, and Favorite Colors of Famous Physicists, with the goal of memorizing all of it, plus the entire contents of the PDG. Flash cards will be provided. Want in? Bug your mentor.



Experimental Physics Rodeo

Really, this rodeo is an accelerator-palooza, with exciting news about the particle smashers here and there. Thanks, machine folks!

First, the LHC shutdown continues. In the CERN Carrier article Little Ado About Little, Deputy Director-Sheriff Keeton Dogberry explains, "Surely, sirrah, after the Higgs, we've nothing to do anon these ten years and we're on hiatus with no physics upon us. None to do, too." Rumors swirl, however, that physicists might just fire the old machine up again in the coming months, if only to circulate the oil and clean out the exhaust system.

According to Physics Tomorrow, the major and minor world accelerator facilities are banding together to plan and build a really, really, really big machine that might achieve proton energies rivalling the kinetic energy of a mouse. Learn about the Dysonatron, with a whopping 3.14 AU circumference and powered entirely by the sun. It's a dream to dream for.

PS Physics reports on scientists at Piccolo Sasso National Laboratory in Brooklyn, New York. The PSNL Way-small Accelerator Group envisions a collider to be built inside a random hydrogen atom. Explains WAG spokesperson Pete Clemens, "Yeah, an atom is like a little solar system, see, and the electron is like a tiny planet. We can get all the stuff we need to build a real good accelerator on that planet and we can even get help from the teeny-weeny people that live there." What can go wrong?

Well, that's our Physics Experiment Rodeo. Now go round up some Higgs bosons!



More Stuff

Most of our stuff this issue comes from various imperial decrees. Who knew? Anyway, our source for these is the very useful particle physics news site Forces.

Released a long time ago, Coruscant, Galactic Empire. I, Palpatine, Emperor of the Galactic Empire have had just about enough of "the Force". Not only has adherence to that ancient religion failed to conjure up the stolen data tapes (darn that rogue young lady and her stupid dad), but the correct term should be interaction, not force. C'mon, folks! Do really think W bosons push things around during beta decay? It's an interaction, not a force. Henceforward, the Force will be known as the Interaction. And stop calling the Dark Side the "weakly interacting massive side." It sounds silly. By the way, don't write to your senator to complain because I've dissolved the Imperial Senate. 

Released 9947 AG, Kaitain, Other Galactic Empire. I, Harvey Corrino, Emperor of the Galaxy, in seeking for the people of the Galaxy, who are his children, freedom from the monopoly of the Spacing Guild, do hereby order all mentats to think very hard and learn all they can to find a way to navigate hyperspace without the clairvoyance used by those weird, spooky, fishlike Navigators. Completely coincidentally, elimination of the ruinous fees the Guild charges to transport your friendly Sardaukar peacekeepers will do much to help replenish the Imperial coffers. Direct your questions to my assistant Dakota Idaho. Get going, mentats: the data must flow.

Released 11052 GE, Trantor, Original Galactic Empire.  I, Cleon Swoboda, Your Favorite Emperor, declare that, since real science is hard, we should establish a new science that combines brain stuff with The Historical Records to get those academic eggheads, especially the mathematicians, to relax and live life a little. We'll call it, let's see, um, Psychohistory. Yes, that's very good. Psychohistory. I do thus and therewith and all that decree the establishment of the Department of Psychohistory at the University of Trantor, to be staffed by Imperial Mathematicians. There, that'll slow them down some. Hah! What can go wrong, by Selden?

One a different note, actually, an A-sharp, QuarkNet is here again to help you cut through all of the misinformation, fake news, and stuff someone just made up – like that "earth is round" bunk – with our very first QuarkNet Guide to Actual Physics. Read it and exclaim, "It's about time!"



Just for Real

There are some actual things going on in particle physics. They are in this section and are not silly. For example, Fermilab Today has an article on the straw tracker being built for Mu2e, reminiscent of the Transition Radiation Tracker in ATLAS. It also informs us that Cristina Mantilla, one of our  masterclass moderators, won the APS Tanaka Award for her doctoral thesis. Hearty congratulations to a scientist with whom we were already proud to work!

Symmetry shows us how the James Webb Space Telescope will search for dark matter. And Interactions reports on how photons are smacked into deuterons in the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider at Brookhaven Lab. This experiment literally sheds light on the gluons that hold the nucleus together.

We should also keep you apprised of the actual latest news from – la-de-da – QuarkNet Central. So here it is:

  • International Masterclasses are winding up, except for a brief blast at the end of April – sort of like the weather we got after "spring" started. This will give FF a good go-to Spotlight in May.
  • QED fans: Give it a rest until April 27. Use the time to read the real QED.
  • QuarkNet teachers: We have special opportunities for you on a time-limited basis, last month only. Oh. Never mind.
  • Take a look at the European Galileo Teacher Training courses offered by NUCLIO. This still seems to be open for registration. Availability of these programs to teachers from the United States may vary; you will need to check.
  • Beamline for Schools (BL4S) registration is open until April 15. In BL4S, teams of high school-age students propose their own experiments to run in a CERN beamline. The winning team(s) actually go to CERN to make their measurements with expenses paid by BL4S.

If you are wondering why the Friday Flyer is indulging in (cheap) humor in such serious times, it is because we are in serious times–and it is April 1. We hope that this has helped.


QuarkNet Staff
Mark Adams: [email protected]  
Ken Cecire: [email protected]
Leonard McCoy: [email protected]
Spencer Pasero: [email protected] 
Shane Wood: [email protected] 

Additional Contacts