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EPJ Plus Focus Point - Deep Underground Science Laboratories and Projects

Deep Underground Science Laboratories and Projects Guest Editor: Alessandro Bettini

Physicists have developed a theoretical description of the elementary building blocks of matter and of the basic forces of Nature, called the Standard Model. It is the most comprehensive theory ever developed and has been tested with high precision up to energies of a few hundred times the proton mass. A new collider, the LHC, has started to work at still higher energies, discovering the last missing element of the SM, the so-called Higgs boson. However we know already that this, and any accelerator of the future, will not be sufficient.

The reason is that three of the four basic forces of Nature, namely strong, electromagnetic and weak, seem to become equal at high energies. Unfortunately the energy scale of the unification is extremely high, so high that we will never be able to reach it with an accelerator. Even higher is the Planck scale, the Big Bang energy, at which, presumably, also the fourth force, gravitation, becomes unified. We can exploit an indirect way, because phenomena characterised by a high-energy scale do, in fact, happen naturally even at the lower, every day, energies. However the higher their intrinsic energy scale is, the more rarely they happen.

The deep underground laboratories are dedicated to the search for these natural, but extremely rare nuclear and subnuclear phenomena, requiring a very low radioactive background environment. The background is due to cosmic rays and to decays of radioactive nuclei present, in traces, in all materials. Underground laboratories, shielded from cosmic and radioactive radiations, have been built in Europe, Japan and North America. More are planned in China, India and South America. They differ in size, depth and organisation, but their scientific programmes are similar and complementary. Other disciplines, like geodynamics and biology, can profit from the unique environment of the underground facilities.

The author of the paper of each laboratory or project is the Director of the given Lab or the PI of the given project.

To view this focus point and others already published, please click here.

EPJ A Review - Coherent Investigation of Nuclear Data at CEA DAM: Theoretical Models, Experiments, and Evaluated Data

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Figure 1: (Bauge et al’s Fig. 46). Jezebel (a plutonium sphere) reactivity induced by components of the evaluated BRC09 and ENDF/B-VII.0 239Pu file, demonstrates that two different evaluated data sets predict the same k-eff criticality for different underlying reasons; one or more of them (probably both) are in need of improvements.

Dr. Eric Bauge et al describe a body of work accomplished by the CEA/DAM. Their goal is to determine accurate nuclear reaction cross sections for use in neutron transport codes. This work integrates theory and modeling, experiment, computer simulation, and statistical analysis. It involves researchers who thrive on multidisciplinary work, and who are motivated to achieve realistic simulation predictions in nuclear technology applications. Not only has the group succeeded in creating databases of accurate cross sections, but in every aspect of the work significant progress has been made in advancing our understanding of the underlying nuclear physics.

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EPJ A Highlight - Nuclear physics with a medium-energy Electron-Ion Collider

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Possible realizations of a medium-energy EIC: MEIC at Jefferson Lab (top) and eRHIC at Brookhaven National Lab (bottom)

Quarks and gluons are the fundamental constituents of most of the matter in the visible Universe; Quantum Chromodynamics (QCD), a relativistic quantum field theory based on color gauge symmetry, describes their strong interactions. The understanding of the static and dynamical properties of the visible strongly interacting particles - hadrons - in terms of quarks and gluons is one of the most fascinating issues in hadron physics and QCD. In particular the exploration of the internal structure of protons and neutrons is one of the outstanding questions in experimental and theoretical nuclear and hadron physics. Impressive progress has been achieved recently.

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EPJ E Highlight - Scaling up polymer blobs

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Several new simulations performed on polymers outline their scaling-up behaviour at extreme limits where it depends on their density and length.

Scientists use simulations to test the limits of their object of study—in this case thin films of polymers—to extremes of scale. In a study just published in EPJ E, Nava Schulmann, a researcher at Strasbourg University, France, and colleagues use a well-known model capable of providing information on heat and mechanical energy exchange between these polymer chains. They found that polymer blends confined to ultrathin two-dimensional films displayed enhanced compatibility. This was made possible by simulations using a fairly standard model, which is simple enough to allow the efficient computation of dense large-chain systems.

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EPJ B Colloquium - Heat flux anomaly at nanoscale

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Nanomaterials are promising platforms for testing fundamental heat transport theories, according to a recent review outlining anomalous heat transport in nanometric scale materials.

The latest developments in experimental, theoretical and numerical studies of heat conduction have recently been published in EPJB. A review article by Singaporean and Chinese experts indicates that the standard laws governing conduction at macroscopic scale no longer apply in nanostructures. Instead, thermal conductivity is dependent on the material scale. Heat transport in nanoscale materials has implications in electronic, optoelectronic, and thermal devices.

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EPJ E Highlight - Self-forming biological scaffolding

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A model system that can interpret the role of cross-linking proteins.

A new model system of the cellular skeletons of living cells is akin to a mini-laboratory designed to explore how the cells’ functional structures assemble. A paper just published in EPJ E by physicist Volker Schaller and his colleagues from the Technical University Munich, Germany, presents one hypothesis concerning self-organisation. It hinges on the findings that a homogeneous protein network, once subjected to stresses generated by molecular motors, compacts into highly condensed fibres.

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EPJ E Colloquium – From shear banding to elastic turbulence

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A new model provides an alternative description of atomic level gold bonding.

While simple Newtonian liquids are structured at the molecular scale, complex fluids are structured at the mesoscopic scale. Shear-banding is a ubiquitous phenomenon in complex fluids. It relates to the formation of regions (bands) with different fluidities and stacked along the velocity gradient direction. Shear banding is a transition towards a heterogeneous state induced by the flow itself. It’s been observed in many systems of practical relevance, including giant (wormlike) micelles, telechelic polymers, emulsions, clay suspensions, colloidal gels, star polymers, granular materials, or foams. Giant micelles, the subject of a recent EPJE Colloquium,

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EPJ B Highlight - Angling for gold

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Unravelling gold’s bonding mysteries / © Mike Boulden

A new model provides an alternative description of atomic level gold bonding.

A study on how gold atoms bond to other atoms using a model that takes into account bonds direction has been carried out by physicist Marie Backman from the University of Helsinki, Finland, and colleagues. These findings, which have just been published in EPJB, are a first step toward better understanding how gold binds to other materials through strong, so-called covalent, bonds.

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EPJ B Colloquium - Statistical physics for micro-scale fracture and plasticity

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A review of recent successes and outstanding challenges for statistical physicists working on the mechanical properties of materials.

Most of the complexity in fracture and plasticity stems from the interplay between long-range elastic interactions and structural disorder. Statistical physicists have developed a full machinery of analytical and numerical methods to tackle these problems. Concepts drawn from percolation, fractal geometry, phase-transitions and interface depinning have been used, with varying degrees of success, to understand these problems. In this EPJB colloquium, Stefano Zapperi highlights

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EPJ Plus Highlight – Statistical uncertainty in line shift and width interpretation

A general statistical analysis (classical statistics) is a common experimental procedure to determine the uncertainty of photon statistics in measuring a line shift and width. Given the importance of taking into account the background as well as the measured signal in any photon measurement, the paper describes both the perfect spectrometer measurements with a zero and nonzero background as well as the case of an imperfect spectrometer.

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Editors-in-Chief
L. Baudis, G. Dissertori, K. Skenderis and D. Zeppenfeld
We thank you and the Editorial Office for the editorial work during the submission and revision of the manuscripts. We are particularly grateful to the Referee for his/her valuable work which has contributed improving the scientific content of the manuscripts.

Claudio Cremaschini and Massimo Tessarotto, Silesian University in Opava, Czech Republic

ISSN: 1434-6044 (Print Edition)
ISSN: 1434-6052 (Electronic Edition)

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