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From KEK: Call for opinions: Japan faces severe science budget cut

3 December 2009 The research program at High Energy Accelerator Research Organization (KEK) is facing a grave possibility of a severe budget cut, as recommended by the recently issued Public Budget Review by Japanese government. This affects Japanese renowned research programs including the ones hosted by KEK, such as elementary particle physics and related fields in astrophysics, material and life sciences. More than 260 universities and laboratories attend these programs. I would like to take this opportunity to explain to you what KEK is doing to enhance its research and education programs, and also would like to solicit your opinions. Science has played a crucial role in our society, contributing to our understanding of the world around us, and supplying knowledge bases to develop innovative technologies. The Japanese science community has made remarkable contributions to this effort. This is clearly seen in the Nobel Prize-winning works by Yukawa and Tomonaga in the past, and by Nambu, Kobayashi, Maskawa and Shimomura in 2008. These achievements have only been possible through public understanding of the importance of basic research and the support by our government. KEK is an "Inter-University Research Institute" that supports research programs with an emphasis of advanced, large-scale particle accelerators as the primary research platform. KEK has engaged in a wide range of research activities, such as the studies of the missing antimatter and the neutrino mass, the search for new materials for industrial applications, the structural protein analysis of influenza virus, the development of catalyst to be used for clean automobile engines, and others. KEK hosts around 6,000 visiting scientists annually from more than 160 universities and 100 laboratories, as well as 1,000 scientists from more than 50 countries. KEK is one of the major accelerator laboratories in the world to host global-scale, collaborative research programs in accelerator related science. KEK also provides more than 5,000 young students annually from elementary, mid-high and high schools as well as from colleges and universities with opportunities to acquaint themselves with the cutting edge research environment at the leading particle accelerators. KEK’s accelerator has provided the experimental confirmation of the Nobel Prize-winning Kobayashi-Maskawa theory, which continues to inspire young generations. It is a place for future scientists and engineers to get hands-on experience with the ongoing science by attending lectures and trying experiments. These experiences stimulate their interests in science, and help them think about their career. Needless to say, the wise use of funding and time available is our responsibility of utmost importance. It is particularly so in the difficult economic situation that we all face now. Unfortunately, the public review of the Japanese national budget in November, 2009 resulted in a recommendation that the "Special Educational and Research Fund" is to be significantly reduced. This funding accounts for more than 50% of the KEK's annual budget. If this reduction happens as per the recommendation, scientists at and around KEK would lose the research opportunities and a major outflow of research talent to overseas might ensue. Future recovery from this set-back could easily take years, and require greater amount of budget than the amount cut next year. Neglect of the importance of fundamental research could result in a long-term stagnation of our national competitiveness. We do our best to serve scientists from across the nation and around the world, to carry out the high-quality research programs with cutting-edge technologies by maintaining the world-class research facilities. We would like to hear your thoughts on our research programs. Please use the form below to tell us that you think by December 10. Category: Around the World | Tagged: , ,

Developing new tool for hospitals and life science

19 November 2009 The Quantum Beam Project, a year–old project to study and utilise the quantum nature of particle beams at KEK, is developing a commercial version of a new affordable, compact X–ray source. The aim of the project is to develop a compact and high-quality particle source for broad commercial use in medicine, life science, information technology, nanotechnology, and quantum science. The project's name, Quantum Beam, refers to beams of particles like neutrons, photons, and ions, which exhibit quantum mechanical behaviours, and the unique feature of the project is to take advantage of this nature to promote the technology transfer of an affordable compact X–ray source to hospitals and research institutions. Category: Feature | Tagged: ,

Rises and falls in nanoseconds

| 12 November 2009 In late October, the fast kickers at the Accelerator Test Facility (ATF) at KEK have successfully kicked the beam bunches in 5.6 nanoseconds. Conditioning these bunches is the job of the damping rings, and the kicker system is one of the crucial technologies which hold the key of the damping ring performance. Category: Feature | Tagged: , ,

SOI technology for next-generation sensors

15 October 2009 What do you visualise when you are asked about a sensor? There are many sensors around us. For example, CCDs (Charge Coupled Device), which is the basis of today’s digital camera, and the technology for this year's Nobel Prize in Physics are also sensors. Thus, sensors are absolutely necessary devices for our daily life and also important technologies for the International Liner Collider. In the last years, many new sensors have been developed for the ILC, one of them being pixel sensors using Silicon-On-Insulator (SOI) technology for particle detectors, under development at KEK’s Detector Technology Project Office. This sensor is expected to serve as one of the alternatives for particle sensors used in such parts as the silicon vertex detector. Category: Around the World | Tagged: , , , , , , ,

New type of thermal sensors for vertical testing of nine-cell cavities for the ILC

8 October 2009 Scientists at Kyoto university are testing a new type of thermal sensor for superconducting cavities on the vertical test for ILC at the Superconducting radiofrequency Test Facility (STF) at KEK. This sensor is under development by a Kyoto-KEK collaboration The team is developing this new device to address issues in the components of the sensor – tangled wires and resistors. At STF, a carbon resistor is used for vertical testing of nine-cell cavities. They have already installed 350 sensors on the outer surface of the nine-cell cavity, and 700 lead wires were needed to connect both ends of sensors through cryogenic area and outside, in order to measure the temperature. “For a shorter developing time, I have chosen carbon resistor which is technologically proven in the past superconducting cavity R&D. This structure is simple, not so sophisticated.” said Yasuchika 'Kirk' Yamamoto, the scientist at KEK who designed the present system. When the cavity is being tested, it is cooled to 2 kelvins, and has to stay at that temperature as much as possible. In general, it is best to use the smallest possible number of lead wires to prevent heat invasion to the cryogenic area. “The current system needs too many lead wires, and the production of the carbon resistor has been discontinued, we thought we should develop a new thermal sensor to replace it,” he said. Category: Around the World | Tagged: , , ,

GRACE-ful students

| 10 September 2009 One of the most important subject in future high-energy experiments is to search and investigate the Higgs particle – the last missing piece of the Standard Model. Another important subject is the investigation of physics beyond the Standard Model such as supersymmetry. From 31 August to 3 September, the first “GRACE school”, the school for one of the important tools for quests in high-energy physics, was held at KEK in Tsukuba, Japan in cooperation with Kogakuin University. Category: Feature | Tagged: , , ,

International collaborators at ATF2

27 August 2009 At the Accelerator Test Facility (ATF) at KEK, researchers around the world are testing the feasibility of their accelerator techniques. Because the ILC beams are very small, very accurate and precise beam diagnostic measurements are required. Physicists from Notre Dame University, US, and Oxford University, UK, visited ATF2 in July to make tests relevant to beam diagnostic measurement. Category: Feature | Tagged: , , , , , ,

A grand tuning voyage

| 27 August 2009 When groups from different countries work together the usual procedure is to send the people to the machines they are working on. A team of engineers and technicians from DESY, Fermilab and KEK decided to do the exact opposite: they sent the machines to the people. On 3 August two machines constructed at DESY embarked on a voyage to Fermilab in the US. Category: Around the World | Tagged: , , ,

New cavity production facility for future industrialisation

| 30 April 2009 (...) One of the most important plans for the ILC project is to build a new superconducting radiofrequency (rf) cavity production facility on KEK premises, aiming to gain experiences for industrialisation and future mass-production. Category: Director's Corner | Tagged: , , ,

From SLAC Today: A Flight Simulator for the World’s Smallest Beam

2 April 2009 Commissioning has begun at the Japan-based Accelerator Test Facility 2, a major technology test bed for future accelerators, including the proposed International Linear Collider, or ILC. During the two-year commissioning process, SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory physicists are shuttling back and forth to KEK, the high-energy accelerator lab in Tsukuba, to join an international team of scientists working around the clock to get the accelerator's final focus system up and running. When fully commissioned, this system will squeeze the facility's electron beam down to a slender ribbon just 35 nanometers thick—the narrowest beam of particles ever achieved. Category: Around the World | Tagged: , ,
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