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Computer Security: The better generation

Παρ, 24/05/2024 - 11:16
Computer Security: The better generation

To all those fine folks out there who are interested in computer security, who take care of the secrecy of their passwords and other credentials, who protect their laptops and smartphone adequately with up-to-date operating systems and antivirus software, and who apply due diligence when developing and running their IT services and/or control systems, I would issue just two words:

THANK YOU!

Thank you for reading our articles. Thank you for showing an interest in privacy and security. Thank you for wanting to learn more about this. Thank you, because you are the generation who can get it right. Or better, as my generation of 1971 didn't screw everything up.

What’s gone before
Look, for example, at an ancient telephone – the one with a rotary dial. Back then, fear of being spied on was minimal, and only an issue if you annoyed your country. Today, we all carry small spying devices around that collect all our personal information and pass it on. Maybe not immediately to governments, but to big multinationals that make money from our personal data. The secrecy of the post has become WhatsApp, Threema, Signal and Telegram – each with their own privacy-preserving means (or not). With the cloud came the Wild West. Analogue cameras became Instagram and TikTok. Apple revolutionised our record and tape collection. CDs? Bah. MP3s? Not anymore. Linear television became Netflix, Amazon Prime and Disney+. Amazon and Google know much more about our shopping habits than the old neighbourhood shopkeeper ever did. And workout information now goes to Strava, Fitbit or the like. Mapping out the world. Our nicely cloaked private world has become frighteningly transparent and public. Orwell’s 1984 surveillance state at its best. At least there is a silver lining in the form of the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation, which the big companies try to aggressively bend and small startups try to creatively circumvent.

Like with privacy, digitalisation over the past decades has tied our lives into symbiosis with technology. Physical security has become cybersecurity. Today, all the amenities of life are technology-supported. Depending where you are, this is the case to varying degrees. Consider electricity. In most of our countries, electricity is the One Ring that rules it all. No electricity, no cold food or (worse) medication. No electricity, no communication. No electricity, no fresh water, as water pumps need electricity. Similarly for fuelling stations. No electricity, no public transport. Going shopping? Erm, how did you pay last time? Of course, you might have some batteries left over, or a diesel generator. But in the long run? We live in symbiosis with a technology backbone. With electricity. With the control systems deployed for running this backbone. In the past, this backbone was threatened only by physical means – by conflicts. By nation states in an increasingly peaceful world. While we thought that those times were gone, our backbone is now much more susceptible to threats. No need for nation states anymore, when a small group of (state-sponsored) criminals can create havoc. Like the attacks on Saudi Aramco. Like Stuxnet against Iranian nuclear centrifuges. Like Russian hackers allegedly attacking Ukrainian infrastructure prior to the invasion of Crimea. Like the ransomware attacks against Maersk. Like the Conti ransomware group against anyone else on this planet. The COVID-19 pandemic and Russia’s war against Ukraine have shown how fragile our technological backbone has become, how inherently insecure it is and how easily it can be brought to a halt. Threats to this backbone won’t disappear.

And the future, the sunny world of clouds, requires even more backbone. More interconnectivity, more technology, more complexity. Ergo more vulnerabilities. And ergo more severe consequences. Self-driving cars talk to each other and to the traffic lights. Cities become smart. Cashless stores RFID your shopping basket and charge your credit card automatically. Your fridge orders missing items automagically, delivered by drone within 10 minutes. In this brave new Wild West, the genie is out of Pandora’s box. Our technological backbone needs reinforcement. The stupid internet of unsecure things needs improvement. The zillions of layers, virtual machines, containers, software interdependencies, agility, DevOps and just-in-time need experts to put the genie back in the bottle. To adapt technology such that it serves but does not burden. To bring security into every single layer by default. Making security an equal among other IT equals: functionality, usability, maintainability, availability and – security. While threats and threat actors will never give up (and will actually become more and more sophisticated), we need to counter the increasing number of vulnerabilities and keep the consequences of successful attacks at bay.

Now, enter you!
We will never have 100% secure systems – and those who promise this to you are either liars or salespeople or both. “Security will always be exactly as bad as it can possibly be while allowing everything to still function” (Nat Howard). Because we’re lazy and ignorant, because security is usually just a cost factor with limited benefits: security, convenience, cost – pick two. This makes security only as good as the weakest link in the chain of technology. This makes security a people problem. But this also makes security a problem that can be solved by people. You are the crucial generation. The first twists and turns towards a more privacy-preserving and secure future have started. Facebook and Google have been restrained from collecting data. WhatsApp becomes Threema or Signal. Security must again move into focus, joining the other —ities and reinforcing the CIA triangle: confidentiality (hush! for your personal life), integrity (your bank statement) and availability (giving you electricity when you need it). Actually, in industry this is instead the AIC triangle (availability: your supermarket; integrity: the soundness of the bridges you cross to get there; and confidentiality: Coca Cola’s secret recipe).

Since my generation failed to consistently, coherently, efficiently and effectively push those triangles through as it should have, the baton is now handed to you. Together, let’s break up the old mantra of “freedom, security, convenience – choose two” (Dan Geer) and see how we can still get all three deployed on an acceptable level. Open your mind to think secure and privacy-preserving. If you haven’t done so yet, learn how to prevent and protect, how to plan, design, develop and build secure and privacy-preserving applications, software and systems. How to operate systems in a secure and privacy-preserving fashion – finding weaknesses and vulnerabilities, detecting abuse and ensuring that sufficient log information is at hand, and using the magic means available to understand what happened if the evil bad has compromised your system: forensics, incident coordination and response.

In addition to the new round of WhiteHat and Zebra training sessions, which are coming up very soon, we’re happy to announce that dedicated online training courses on all security matters are now available to all of you at any time, with our thanks to the HR training team. The SecureFlag training platform provides hands-on courses, exercises and virtual environments for you to improve your skills in secure software development in your favourite programming language (demo video). Learn how to securely configure your systems, virtual machines and containers and how to securely operate your web and computing services. These new, dedicated courses are provided for your benefit and for the benefit of a secure organisation – to clean up the security and privacy mess. THANK YOU!

______

Do you want to learn more about computer security incidents and issues at CERN? Follow our Monthly Report. For further information, questions or help, check our website or contact us at Computer.Security@cern.ch.

anschaef Fri, 05/24/2024 - 10:16 Byline Computer Security team Publication Date Fri, 05/24/2024 - 10:14

NA64 uses the high-energy SPS muon beam to search for dark matter

Σάβ, 18/05/2024 - 09:34
NA64 uses the high-energy SPS muon beam to search for dark matter

The NA64 experiment started operations at CERN’s SPS North Area in 2016. Its aim is to search for unknown particles from a hypothetical “dark sector”. For these searches, NA64 directs an electron beam onto a fixed target. Researchers then look for unknown dark sector particles produced by collisions between the beam’s electrons and the target’s atomic nuclei.

Recently, the NA64 team started using a muon beam from the SPS to search for new particles that interact predominantly with muons – heavier versions of the electron – and could explain simultaneously the long-standing puzzle of the muon’s anomalous magnetic moment and the dark-matter (DM) problem. Their first results were accepted in the journal Physical Review Letters on 8 April.

In this paper, the NA64 collaboration sets new limits on the available parameter space – the window where the researchers could find a hypothetical dark boson Z’ coupling only to muons and tauons for given values of its mass and coupling strength. In the so-called vanilla model, the Z’ can only decay back into neutrinos and could provide an explanation of the muon’s anomalous magnetic moment puzzle. However, in extended models, it can also decay into DM candidates. This would solve the DM problem by predicting the observed relic density of DM particles created in the early universe. With these results, the NA64 collaboration demonstrates the great potential of muon beams in dark matter searches and in future new physics scenarios preferably coupled to muons.

“Muons scattering off the nuclei in the target could produce a hypothetical dark boson Z’, followed by its invisible decay into either a pair of neutrinos or a pair of dark-matter candidates, depending on the underlying model,” explains the deputy Technical Coordinator Laura Molina Bueno. “The signature of this production would be missing energy and momentum in our detectors.”

To search for this, a 160 GeV tertiary muon beam derived from the primary SPS proton beam is fired onto an electromagnetic calorimeter acting as an active target. The experimentalists then search for events in which one final-state muon has a momentum lower than 80 GeV with no detectable activity in the downstream calorimeters.

As no event matching these conditions was observed in the expected signal region, the researchers were able to exclude this region and conclude that, for the first model, the only possible mass window for a dark boson Z’ to explain the g-2 muon anomaly is from 6 MeV up to 40 MeV. Their results also indicate that light thermal dark matter coupled to the standard model via a (Lmu-Ltau) Z’ cannot be heavier than 40 MeV.

NA64 is among the first experiments searching for dark sectors weakly coupled to muons. The experimentalists are confident that they will cover the available parameter space in the future by using higher beam intensities. “Using a muon beam opens a new window to explore other well-motivated new physics scenarios, such as benchmark dark-photon models, scalar portals, millicharged particles or lepton-flavour violating processes,” concludes NA64 co-Spokesperson Paolo Crivelli.

anschaef Sat, 05/18/2024 - 08:34 Byline Kristiane Bernhard-Novotny Publication Date Sat, 05/18/2024 - 08:29

NA64 uses the high-energy SPS muon beam to search for dark matter

Σάβ, 18/05/2024 - 09:34
NA64 uses the high-energy SPS muon beam to search for dark matter

The NA64 experiment started operations at CERN’s SPS North Area in 2016. Its aim is to search for unknown particles from a hypothetical “dark sector”. For these searches, NA64 directs an electron beam onto a fixed target. Researchers then look for unknown dark sector particles produced by collisions between the beam’s electrons and the target’s atomic nuclei.

Recently, the NA64 team started using a muon beam from the SPS to search for new particles that interact predominantly with muons – heavier versions of the electron – and could explain simultaneously the long-standing puzzle of the muon’s anomalous magnetic moment and the dark-matter (DM) problem. Their first results were accepted in the journal Physical Review Letters on 8 April.

In this paper, the NA64 collaboration sets new limits on the available parameter space – the window where the researchers could find a hypothetical dark boson Z’ coupling only to muons and tauons for given values of its mass and coupling strength. In the so-called vanilla model, the Z’ can only decay back into neutrinos and could provide an explanation of the muon’s anomalous magnetic moment puzzle. However, in extended models, it can also decay into DM candidates. This would solve the DM problem by predicting the observed relic density of DM particles created in the early universe. With these results, the NA64 collaboration demonstrates the great potential of muon beams in dark matter searches and in future new physics scenarios preferably coupled to muons.

“Muons scattering off the nuclei in the target could produce a hypothetical dark boson Z’, followed by its invisible decay into either a pair of neutrinos or a pair of dark-matter candidates, depending on the underlying model,” explains the deputy Technical Coordinator Laura Molina Bueno. “The signature of this production would be missing energy and momentum in our detectors.”

To search for this, a 160 GeV tertiary muon beam derived from the primary SPS proton beam is fired onto an electromagnetic calorimeter acting as an active target. The experimentalists then search for events in which one final-state muon has a momentum lower than 80 GeV with no detectable activity in the downstream calorimeters.

As no event matching these conditions was observed in the expected signal region, the researchers were able to exclude this region and conclude that, for the first model, the only possible mass window for a dark boson Z’ to explain the g-2 muon anomaly is from 6 MeV up to 40 MeV. Their results also indicate that light thermal dark matter coupled to the standard model via a (Lmu-Ltau) Z’ cannot be heavier than 40 MeV.

NA64 is among the first experiments searching for dark sectors weakly coupled to muons. The experimentalists are confident that they will cover the available parameter space in the future by using higher beam intensities. “Using a muon beam opens a new window to explore other well-motivated new physics scenarios, such as benchmark dark-photon models, scalar portals, millicharged particles or lepton-flavour violating processes,” concludes NA64 co-Spokesperson Paolo Crivelli.

anschaef Sat, 05/18/2024 - 08:34 Byline Kristiane Bernhard-Novotny Publication Date Sat, 05/18/2024 - 08:29

Accelerator Report: Already a fifth of the way there

Πέμ, 16/05/2024 - 12:56
Accelerator Report: Already a fifth of the way there

The whole CERN accelerator complex and its associated experimental facilities have been fully operational for some time now, so the time is ripe to review the first part of this year’s run and look forward to what is still to come.

At the LHC, first collisions with just a few bunches occurred on 6 April. Meaningful physics data taking can only begin when collisions take place with at least 1200 bunches per beam, and this milestone was reached on 14 April. It means that, out of the 147 days allocated to proton-proton collisions this year, 32 have already been completed, representing just over 20% of the 2024 proton run.

During these initial 32 days, the LHC machine was available 67.2% of the time with stable beams in collision 45.2% of the time. The goal is to achieve a stable beam time ratio of at least 50%. Such figures are quite normal in the early stages of an annual run, a period during which various teething problems and challenges are identified and addressed, as discussed in my last report.

Luminosity production is also progressing according to schedule, as can be seen in the graph below. So far, the integrated luminosity collected has reached 17.5 fb-1, which is nearly 20% of the 2024 target of 90 fb-1. To reach this target, we need an average of about 0.8 fb-1 per day. Recently we have seen a record production of 1.23 fb-1 in just 24 hours, which demonstrates the LHC’s impressive potential to meet and possibly even exceed our target.

The predicted and achieved luminosity curves for ATLAS and CMS. The blue areas indicate the machine development (MD) periods, the red area the Van de Meer run, and the green one the technical stop. (Image: CERN)

Today, the LHC is performing the Van de Meer run, a crucial process used to calibrate the luminosity measurements in the four main LHC experiments (ALICE, ATLAS, CMS, LHCb).

This follows the first block of machine development (MD) sessions that took place on 13-15 May, during which experts conducted various tests and studies, including further investigation into the collimator hierarchy breaking that occurred in April.

On 18 May, the LHC will resume its primary task of producing luminosity. This production period will continue until the second MD block that is scheduled to start on 5 June and will be followed by a 5-day technical stop to carry out essential preventive and corrective maintenance before the summer holiday season. During the summer, the LHC will continue its luminosity production.

An overview of the beam availability of the different injectors and experimental facilities. The availability of each machine takes into account the non-availability of the upstream machines. (Image: CERN)

Not only is the LHC performing well, but the injector complex is also achieving a high level of beam availability for its experimental users. Physics in the injector complex kicked off on 22 March in the PS East Area. With the run scheduled to end on 2 December, the East Area has already completed over 20% of its 2024 run. Meanwhile the antimatter factory, which was the last facility in the injector complex to start beam operation, began delivering antiprotons to its experiments on 22 April, so just over 10% of its scheduled physics time for 2024 has now elapsed.

Linac4, the first link in the proton injector chain, has posted an average availability of 97.3% since its start after Long Shutdown 2 (LS2). It has posted availability of 95.7% so far in 2024, about 1.6% less than usual. This can mainly be attributed to a series of faults that led to the replacement of a klystron in March.

The injectors will continue their routine beam delivery to the experimental facilities until 12 June, when they too will interrupt beam production for a 4-day technical stop. Afterwards, it will be business as usual once more and the experiments can look forward to good beam delivery over the summer.

As we continue through the year, the achievements so far set a promising pace for the remaining months.

anschaef Thu, 05/16/2024 - 11:56 Byline Rende Steerenberg Publication Date Wed, 05/15/2024 - 11:52

Accelerator Report: Already a fifth of the way there

Πέμ, 16/05/2024 - 12:56
Accelerator Report: Already a fifth of the way there

The whole CERN accelerator complex and its associated experimental facilities have been fully operational for some time now, so the time is ripe to review the first part of this year’s run and look forward to what is still to come.

At the LHC, first collisions with just a few bunches occurred on 6 April. Meaningful physics data taking can only begin when collisions take place with at least 1200 bunches per beam, and this milestone was reached on 14 April. It means that, out of the 147 days allocated to proton-proton collisions this year, 32 have already been completed, representing just over 20% of the 2024 proton run.

During these initial 32 days, the LHC machine was available 67.2% of the time with stable beams in collision 45.2% of the time. The goal is to achieve a stable beam time ratio of at least 50%. Such figures are quite normal in the early stages of an annual run, a period during which various teething problems and challenges are identified and addressed, as discussed in my last report.

Luminosity production is also progressing according to schedule, as can be seen in the graph below. So far, the integrated luminosity collected has reached 17.5 fb-1, which is nearly 20% of the 2024 target of 90 fb-1. To reach this target, we need an average of about 0.8 fb-1 per day. Recently we have seen a record production of 1.23 fb-1 in just 24 hours, which demonstrates the LHC’s impressive potential to meet and possibly even exceed our target.

The predicted and achieved luminosity curves for ATLAS and CMS. The blue areas indicate the machine development (MD) periods, the red area the Van de Meer run, and the green one the technical stop. (Image: CERN)

Today, the LHC is performing the Van de Meer run, a crucial process used to calibrate the luminosity measurements in the four main LHC experiments (ALICE, ATLAS, CMS, LHCb).

This follows the first block of machine development (MD) sessions that took place on 13-15 May, during which experts conducted various tests and studies, including further investigation into the collimator hierarchy breaking that occurred in April.

On 18 May, the LHC will resume its primary task of producing luminosity. This production period will continue until the second MD block that is scheduled to start on 5 June and will be followed by a 5-day technical stop to carry out essential preventive and corrective maintenance before the summer holiday season. During the summer, the LHC will continue its luminosity production.

An overview of the beam availability of the different injectors and experimental facilities. The availability of each machine takes into account the non-availability of the upstream machines. (Image: CERN)

Not only is the LHC performing well, but the injector complex is also achieving a high level of beam availability for its experimental users. Physics in the injector complex kicked off on 22 March in the PS East Area. With the run scheduled to end on 2 December, the East Area has already completed over 20% of its 2024 run. Meanwhile the antimatter factory, which was the last facility in the injector complex to start beam operation, began delivering antiprotons to its experiments on 22 April, so just over 10% of its scheduled physics time for 2024 has now elapsed.

Linac4, the first link in the proton injector chain, has posted an average availability of 97.3% since its start after Long Shutdown 2 (LS2). It has posted availability of 95.7% so far in 2024, about 1.6% less than usual. This can mainly be attributed to a series of faults that led to the replacement of a klystron in March.

The injectors will continue their routine beam delivery to the experimental facilities until 12 June, when they too will interrupt beam production for a 4-day technical stop. Afterwards, it will be business as usual once more and the experiments can look forward to good beam delivery over the summer.

As we continue through the year, the achievements so far set a promising pace for the remaining months.

anschaef Thu, 05/16/2024 - 11:56 Byline Rende Steerenberg Publication Date Wed, 05/15/2024 - 11:52

CERN 70th anniversary exhibition at Geneva Airport

Τετ, 15/05/2024 - 13:09
CERN 70th anniversary exhibition at Geneva Airport

To honour its 70 years of contributions to scientific knowledge, technological innovation and international collaboration, CERN has put together a rich and diverse programme, at CERN and across its Member States, Associate Member States and beyond. This programme includes exhibitions, the first of which can now be visited at Geneva Airport as part of a collaboration between the two organisations. Inaugurated on 2 May, the exhibition’s three components will occupy the wall leading to the security check before entering the departure lounge, the “Panorama” terrace and the international terminal until autumn 2024.

Find out more on the “CERN and its neighbours” website.

anschaef Wed, 05/15/2024 - 12:09 Byline Zoe Nikolaidou Publication Date Wed, 05/15/2024 - 12:07

CERN 70th anniversary exhibition at Geneva Airport

Τετ, 15/05/2024 - 13:09
CERN 70th anniversary exhibition at Geneva Airport

To honour its 70 years of contributions to scientific knowledge, technological innovation and international collaboration, CERN has put together a rich and diverse programme, at CERN and across its Member States, Associate Member States and beyond. This programme includes exhibitions, the first of which can now be visited at Geneva Airport as part of a collaboration between the two organisations. Inaugurated on 2 May, the exhibition’s three components will occupy the wall leading to the security check before entering the departure lounge, the “Panorama” terrace and the international terminal until autumn 2024.

Find out more on the “CERN and its neighbours” website.

anschaef Wed, 05/15/2024 - 12:09 Byline Zoe Nikolaidou Publication Date Wed, 05/15/2024 - 12:07

Computer Security: WhiteHat & Zebra trainings are back

Τετ, 15/05/2024 - 12:33
Computer Security: WhiteHat & Zebra trainings are back

Vulnerabilities and weaknesses lurk all over the digital place: unprotected file uploads, generous SQL queries, unfiltered input fields, disclosed passwords… They are the entry point for cross-site scripting, remote code execution or root privilege escalation, and the first step towards fostering the patient-zero-like compromise of a server, a service or the whole of CERN; the first step towards losing protected, restricted or confidential information; the first step that can result in mild to serious reputational damage for the Lab.

A plethora of means exists to protect against that. On the one hand, the Computer Security team is scanning for vulnerabilities and weaknesses in the hope of detecting them early and mitigating them fast. On the other, hand-in-hand with the Computer Security team, you, as an excellent software developer and experienced programmer, have followed the right courses to put in place a secure software programming and code development life-cycle, including sound system architecture and choice of components, apply best practices for managing and building your software in a secure fashion, and are aware of (and can avoid!) potential supply chain traps.

The CERN WhiteHat Challenge
While external students continue hacking into CERN and finding “juicy” stuff, we are glad to announce that the WhiteHatChallenge is back at CERN after a two-year hiatus. Designed as two half-days of training on ethics and integrity, focusing on penetration testing and vulnerability scanning, it should bring you up to speed on detecting suboptimal configurations and weaknesses in your web services and websites. While penetration testing is a marathon that requires lots of training and practice, this WhiteHat training should at least get you up and walking. It will cover the concepts for breaking into and abusing web applications, the use of the appropriate tools, and a Capture the Flag (CTF) tournament as a homework exercise to sharpen your skills. Hopefully it will give you a taste for becoming ─ after lots more fun training ─ an experienced penetration tester, hacker and participant in worldwide CTF tournaments! So, join us! All details for afternoon 1 and afternoon 2 can be found on Indico ─ no registration necessary.

Zebra Alliance Incident Response Exercise
And if you want to experience the pressure when the going really gets tough, see how incident response is conducted in reality. The Zebra Alliance has been hacked yet again (after previous attacks in 2022 and 2023)! And once again, it’s up to you and your peers in the room to figure out what happened. How did the attacker get in? What was their technique and intrusion vector? What’s their name (so the police can apprehend them)? No prior knowledge of security, incident response or even IT is needed. All you need is a laptop, the curiosity to dig and the eagerness to learn and tackle the challenge. As seats are limited, however, we kindly request that you register on Indico.

Have fun at both of these events! We hope to see you soon!

______

Do you want to learn more about computer security incidents and issues at CERN? Follow our Monthly Report. For further information, questions or help, check our website or contact us at Computer.Security@cern.ch.

anschaef Wed, 05/15/2024 - 11:33 Byline Computer Security team Publication Date Wed, 05/15/2024 - 11:29

Computer Security: WhiteHat & Zebra trainings are back

Τετ, 15/05/2024 - 12:33
Computer Security: WhiteHat & Zebra trainings are back

Vulnerabilities and weaknesses lurk all over the digital place: unprotected file uploads, generous SQL queries, unfiltered input fields, disclosed passwords… They are the entry point for cross-site scripting, remote code execution or root privilege escalation, and the first step towards fostering the patient-zero-like compromise of a server, a service or the whole of CERN; the first step towards losing protected, restricted or confidential information; the first step that can result in mild to serious reputational damage for the Lab.

A plethora of means exists to protect against that. On the one hand, the Computer Security team is scanning for vulnerabilities and weaknesses in the hope of detecting them early and mitigating them fast. On the other, hand-in-hand with the Computer Security team, you, as an excellent software developer and experienced programmer, have followed the right courses to put in place a secure software programming and code development life-cycle, including sound system architecture and choice of components, apply best practices for managing and building your software in a secure fashion, and are aware of (and can avoid!) potential supply chain traps.

The CERN WhiteHat Challenge
While external students continue hacking into CERN and finding “juicy” stuff, we are glad to announce that the WhiteHatChallenge is back at CERN after a two-year hiatus. Designed as two half-days of training on ethics and integrity, focusing on penetration testing and vulnerability scanning, it should bring you up to speed on detecting suboptimal configurations and weaknesses in your web services and websites. While penetration testing is a marathon that requires lots of training and practice, this WhiteHat training should at least get you up and walking. It will cover the concepts for breaking into and abusing web applications, the use of the appropriate tools, and a Capture the Flag (CTF) tournament as a homework exercise to sharpen your skills. Hopefully it will give you a taste for becoming ─ after lots more fun training ─ an experienced penetration tester, hacker and participant in worldwide CTF tournaments! So, join us! All details for afternoon 1 and afternoon 2 can be found on Indico ─ no registration necessary.

Zebra Alliance Incident Response Exercise
And if you want to experience the pressure when the going really gets tough, see how incident response is conducted in reality. The Zebra Alliance has been hacked yet again (after previous attacks in 2022 and 2023)! And once again, it’s up to you and your peers in the room to figure out what happened. How did the attacker get in? What was their technique and intrusion vector? What’s their name (so the police can apprehend them)? No prior knowledge of security, incident response or even IT is needed. All you need is a laptop, the curiosity to dig and the eagerness to learn and tackle the challenge. As seats are limited, however, we kindly request that you register on Indico.

Have fun at both of these events! We hope to see you soon!

______

Do you want to learn more about computer security incidents and issues at CERN? Follow our Monthly Report. For further information, questions or help, check our website or contact us at Computer.Security@cern.ch.

anschaef Wed, 05/15/2024 - 11:33 Byline Computer Security team Publication Date Wed, 05/15/2024 - 11:29

Unveiling the science of tomorrow: FCC Study takes centre stage at La Roche-sur-Foron exhibition

Τετ, 15/05/2024 - 11:27
Unveiling the science of tomorrow: FCC Study takes centre stage at La Roche-sur-Foron exhibition

The Future Circular Collider (FCC) study took centre stage at the International Fair of Haute-Savoie/Mont Blanc in La Roche-sur-Foron from 27 April to 6 May. An information booth, overflowing with interactive exhibits, captivating presentations and branded goodies, showcased the proposed research infrastructure’s scientific potential, alongside the applications of particle physics research in everyday contexts.

The FCC study envisages a next generation particle collider that could succeed the LHC at CERN, currently the most powerful collider in the world. The FCC aspires to offer the broadest possible exploration of the Universe's mysteries via high-precision and high-energy studies of the elementary constituents of matter and the forces governing their interactions.

The information booth at the International Fair of Haute-Savoie/Mont Blanc provided a unique opportunity for residents and visitors to articulate their views on the project and engage in constructive dialogue with the FCC team. Acknowledging the importance of transparency and community involvement, the project team is committed to openly addressing the hurdles inherent in such a monumental scientific endeavour. CERN’s participation in the International Fair of Haute-Savoie/Mont Blanc, enhanced by the valuable help of volunteers from the FCC team, resulted in meaningful discussions with more than 2000 members of the local community on topics ranging from the required technological advancements to sustainability measures.

More information about the FCC study:

https://fcc.web.cern.ch

https://fcc-faisabilite.eu

 

ndinmore Wed, 05/15/2024 - 10:27 Byline Zoe Nikolaidou Publication Date Wed, 05/15/2024 - 10:18

Unveiling the science of tomorrow: FCC Study takes centre stage at La Roche-sur-Foron exhibition

Τετ, 15/05/2024 - 11:27
Unveiling the science of tomorrow: FCC Study takes centre stage at La Roche-sur-Foron exhibition

The Future Circular Collider (FCC) study took centre stage at the International Fair of Haute-Savoie/Mont Blanc in La Roche-sur-Foron from 27 April to 6 May. An information booth, overflowing with interactive exhibits, captivating presentations and branded goodies, showcased the proposed research infrastructure’s scientific potential, alongside the applications of particle physics research in everyday contexts.

The FCC study envisages a next generation particle collider that could succeed the LHC at CERN, currently the most powerful collider in the world. The FCC aspires to offer the broadest possible exploration of the Universe's mysteries via high-precision and high-energy studies of the elementary constituents of matter and the forces governing their interactions.

The information booth at the International Fair of Haute-Savoie/Mont Blanc provided a unique opportunity for residents and visitors to articulate their views on the project and engage in constructive dialogue with the FCC team. Acknowledging the importance of transparency and community involvement, the project team is committed to openly addressing the hurdles inherent in such a monumental scientific endeavour. CERN’s participation in the International Fair of Haute-Savoie/Mont Blanc, enhanced by the valuable help of volunteers from the FCC team, resulted in meaningful discussions with more than 2000 members of the local community on topics ranging from the required technological advancements to sustainability measures.

More information about the FCC study:

https://fcc.web.cern.ch

https://fcc-faisabilite.eu

 

ndinmore Wed, 05/15/2024 - 10:27 Publication Date Wed, 05/15/2024 - 10:18

Hunting for millicharged particles at the LHC

Τρί, 14/05/2024 - 09:59
Hunting for millicharged particles at the LHC

The LHC family of experiments continues to grow. Alongside the four main experiments, a new generation of smaller experiments is contributing to the search for particles predicted by theories beyond the Standard Model, our current theory of particle physics. Recently, the FORMOSA demonstrator, which hunts for millicharged particles, has been installed in the cavern containing the FASER detector, 480 meters downstream from the ATLAS interaction point. It will now collect its first data.

Some theories predict the existence of millicharged elementary particles that would have a charge much smaller than the electron charge. If they exist, they would give clues to a theory beyond the Standard Model and could be considered as candidates for dark matter.

The FORMOSA demonstrator aims to prove the feasibility of the full experiment, which is intended to be installed in a proposed underground hall located about 620 metres away from the ATLAS interaction point. This experimental area – the Forward Physics Facility – is under study within the Physics Beyond Colliders initiative and is expected to host several experiments that will search for long-lived particles predicted by theories beyond the Standard Model. These particles would be produced by collisions at the centre of the ATLAS detector and would interact feebly with Standard Model particles. If approved, the experiments, among them the the proposed FASERν 2 and FLArE experiments, could start taking data when the High-Luminosity LHC is switched on in 2029.

The FORMOSA demonstrator comprises scintillators. When interacting with a charged particle, the scintillators emit photons that are subsequently converted into an electrical signal. While cosmic muons or those from ATLAS collisions may also strike the scintillators, millicharged particles typically deposit much less energy into each layer, distinguishing them from muons that traverse the detector.

“Initial studies with so-called no-beam data and source tests look already promising. This marks an important step towards achieving the goal to run the demonstrator this year and a great demonstration of the collaborative spirit of the projects within the Forward Physics Facility,” says project leader Matthew Citron from University of California, Davis.

Millicharged particles have become a particular focus of research in recent years. The MilliQan detector, located 33 meters away from the CMS interaction point, as well as MoEDAL-MAPP close to LHCb, started data taking during LHC Run 3. In 2020, a study carried out with a smaller demonstrator, MilliQan had ruled out the existence of millicharged particles for a range of masses and charges. Thanks to a higher volume of detection and its location in the far forward region of the LHC collisions, the FORMOSA experiment hopes to extend this search.

cmenard Tue, 05/14/2024 - 08:59 Byline Kristiane Bernhard-Novotny Publication Date Tue, 05/14/2024 - 16:20

Hunting for millicharged particles at the LHC

Τρί, 14/05/2024 - 09:59
Hunting for millicharged particles at the LHC

The LHC family of experiments continues to grow. Alongside the four main experiments, a new generation of smaller experiments is contributing to the search for particles predicted by theories beyond the Standard Model, our current theory of particle physics. Recently, the FORMOSA demonstrator, which hunts for millicharged particles, has been installed in the cavern containing the FASER detector, 480 meters downstream from the ATLAS interaction point. It will now collect its first data.

Some theories predict the existence of millicharged elementary particles that would have a charge much smaller than the electron charge. If they exist, they would give clues to a theory beyond the Standard Model and could be considered as candidates for dark matter.

The FORMOSA demonstrator aims to prove the feasibility of the full experiment, which is intended to be installed in a proposed underground hall located about 620 metres away from the ATLAS interaction point. This experimental area – the Forward Physics Facility – is under study within the Physics Beyond Colliders initiative and is expected to host several experiments that will search for long-lived particles predicted by theories beyond the Standard Model. These particles would be produced by collisions at the centre of the ATLAS detector and would interact feebly with Standard Model particles. If approved, the experiments, among them the the proposed FASERν 2 and FLArE experiments, could start taking data when the High-Luminosity LHC is switched on in 2029.

The FORMOSA demonstrator comprises scintillators. When interacting with a charged particle, the scintillators emit photons that are subsequently converted into an electrical signal. While cosmic muons or those from ATLAS collisions may also strike the scintillators, millicharged particles typically deposit much less energy into each layer, distinguishing them from muons that traverse the detector.

“Initial studies with so-called no-beam data and source tests look already promising. This marks an important step towards achieving the goal to run the demonstrator this year and a great demonstration of the collaborative spirit of the projects within the Forward Physics Facility,” says project leader Matthew Citron from University of California, Davis.

Millicharged particles have become a particular focus of research in recent years. The MilliQan detector, located 33 meters away from the CMS interaction point, as well as MoEDAL-MAPP close to LHCb, started data taking during LHC Run 3. In 2020, a study carried out with a smaller demonstrator, MilliQan had ruled out the existence of millicharged particles for a range of masses and charges. Thanks to a higher volume of detection and its location in the far forward region of the LHC collisions, the FORMOSA experiment hopes to extend this search.

cmenard Tue, 05/14/2024 - 08:59 Byline Kristiane Bernhard-Novotny Publication Date Tue, 05/14/2024 - 16:20

Managing energy responsibly: CERN passes ISO 50001 audit

Τετ, 08/05/2024 - 11:23
Managing energy responsibly: CERN passes ISO 50001 audit The CERN Meyrin site. Continual improvement of energy management is one of the key pillars of the Organization’s strategy to minimise its impact on the environment. (Image: CERN)

All members of the CERN community are ambassadors for CERN’s commitment to environmentally responsible research. We therefore need to understand the implications and audits of the ISO 50001 certification – the international standard used to continually monitor and improve energy management.

CERN was awarded the ISO 50001 certification on 2 February 2023 for a period of three years, covering the entire perimeter of the Organization: all sites, activities and energies. CERN’s unique array of accelerators, detectors and infrastructure is primarily powered by electricity, accounting for about 95% of CERN’s total energy use. In addition, the Laboratory uses natural gas for heating, fuel for its fleet of vehicles, diesel for emergency generators and commercial liquid nitrogen for cooling. The ISO 50001 standard provides guidance and tools to improve energy performance and integrate energy management into our overall efforts to improve quality and environmental management.

In this context, mandatory annual surveillance audits are carried out by the French Association for Standardization, AFNOR. The first surveillance audit for CERN took place from 28 February to 1 March. It required weeks of preparation, including an internal pre-audit with EDF in January. The process included technical assessments of the Laboratory’s largest energy consumers. Focused interviews were held with Management, technical teams including cryogenics, electricity, cooling and ventilation, and support teams such as HR, procurement and HSE. Training and awareness raising of the entire CERN community is an important facet of the certification; a dedicated communications plan was therefore also assessed during the audit.

Conclusions were positive and identified no non-conformities. The auditor produced an official report at the end of April recommending that CERN maintain the certification without reserve: “Although recently deployed, the energy management system demonstrates a good level of maturity and is based on a well-structured organisation. Changes have been implemented since last year, both in the provision of resources and in the organisation of new steering bodies in conjunction with the energy team.”

“The conclusion of the audit highlights how well the requirements of the standard have been implemented across the Organization, from top management to technical teams,” notes CERN’s energy coordinator, Nicolas Bellegarde. “The auditor was particularly impressed with the energy improvement actions carried out by CERN’s services and official bodies in 2023, including the experiments, demonstrating that the overall energy performance has improved and remains a top priority for the Organization.” The next audit will be carried out in February 2025.

Share your feedback about energy saving and find out more about CERN’s approach to energy management and the ISO 50001 certification here: https://hse.cern/content/energy-management

The official AFNOR ISO 50001 certification logo. (Image: AFNOR)

 

ndinmore Wed, 05/08/2024 - 10:23 Byline HSE unit Publication Date Tue, 05/14/2024 - 10:17

Managing energy responsibly: CERN passes ISO 50001 audit

Τετ, 08/05/2024 - 11:23
Managing energy responsibly: CERN passes ISO 50001 audit The CERN Meyrin site. Continual improvement of energy management is one of the key pillars of the Organization’s strategy to minimise its impact on the environment. (Image: CERN)

All members of the CERN community are ambassadors for CERN’s commitment to environmentally responsible research. We therefore need to understand the implications and audits of the ISO 50001 certification – the international standard used to continually monitor and improve energy management.

CERN was awarded the ISO 50001 certification on 2 February 2023 for a period of three years, covering the entire perimeter of the Organization: all sites, activities and energies. CERN’s unique array of accelerators, detectors and infrastructure is primarily powered by electricity, accounting for about 95% of CERN’s total energy use. In addition, the Laboratory uses natural gas for heating, fuel for its fleet of vehicles, diesel for emergency generators and commercial liquid nitrogen for cooling. The ISO 50001 standard provides guidance and tools to improve energy performance and integrate energy management into our overall efforts to improve quality and environmental management.

In this context, mandatory annual surveillance audits are carried out by the French Association for Standardization, AFNOR. The first surveillance audit for CERN took place from 28 February to 1 March. It required weeks of preparation, including an internal pre-audit with EDF in January. The process included technical assessments of the Laboratory’s largest energy consumers. Focused interviews were held with Management, technical teams including cryogenics, electricity, cooling and ventilation, and support teams such as HR, procurement and HSE. Training and awareness raising of the entire CERN community is an important facet of the certification; a dedicated communications plan was therefore also assessed during the audit.

Conclusions were positive and identified no non-conformities. The auditor produced an official report at the end of April recommending that CERN maintain the certification without reserve: “Although recently deployed, the energy management system demonstrates a good level of maturity and is based on a well-structured organisation. Changes have been implemented since last year, both in the provision of resources and in the organisation of new steering bodies in conjunction with the energy team.”

“The conclusion of the audit highlights how well the requirements of the standard have been implemented across the Organization, from top management to technical teams,” notes CERN’s energy coordinator, Nicolas Bellegarde. “The auditor was particularly impressed with the energy improvement actions carried out by CERN’s services and official bodies in 2023, including the experiments, demonstrating that the overall energy performance has improved and remains a top priority for the Organization.” The next audit will be carried out in February 2025.

Share your feedback about energy saving and find out more about CERN’s approach to energy management and the ISO 50001 certification here: https://hse.cern/content/energy-management

The official AFNOR ISO 50001 certification logo. (Image: AFNOR)

 

ndinmore Wed, 05/08/2024 - 10:23 Byline HSE unit Publication Date Tue, 05/14/2024 - 10:17

Accelerator Report: Keeping cool and adapting to challenges

Παρ, 03/05/2024 - 11:41
Accelerator Report: Keeping cool and adapting to challenges

On 29 April, the LHC team received the green light for the final step in the intensity ramp-up and added the last 141 bunches to obtain a full machine with 2352 bunches in each beam.

The 2024 beam commissioning and subsequent intensity ramp-up to about 1900 bunches per beam went very smoothly and, as mentioned in my last report, we were well ahead of schedule. Today, we are still on schedule, but some of the margin has been consumed by two main challenges that were encountered in the last two weeks, which have led to some changes to the filling scheme.

The first challenge occurred on 17 April, when the machine was filled with 1791 bunches per beam. Abnormal beam losses were observed in the collimation region (Point 7) during the final stage of the “squeeze process”, where the beam size in the experiments is reduced to increase the number of collisions.

The collimation system is designed to absorb particles that stray from their trajectory and could hit sensitive components of the accelerator, such as the superconducting magnets, and interfere with their operation. To avoid this happening, Point 7 is equipped with primary and secondary collimators.

The primary collimators, which are situated close to the beam, intercept the deviating beam particles (also called the primary particles), absorb part of their energy and redirect them to the secondary collimators. The secondary collimators, which are further away from the beam, then absorb these particles.

On 17 April, a breaking of the collimation hierarchy was observed: a secondary collimator started playing the role of a primary collimator for certain particles. This can damage the secondary collimator, as it is not designed to intercept the primary particles. Many studies are ongoing to understand the issue, especially as this effect is not observed when the machine is filled with only a few bunches, which is the case during the beam commissioning, when the LHC team validates the collimation hierarchy. In the meantime, the “squeeze” has been limited, sacrificing a few percentage points of luminosity, but avoiding potential damage to the machine parts.

The second challenge arose on 22 April, when the 1.9-Kelvin refrigeration unit A (QUARC A) at Point 8 stopped working due to a faulty cold compressor. Consequently, the cryogenics team switched to the spare unit B (QUARC B), which was in cold standby. Unfortunately, the QUARC B is less efficient, resulting in a loss of cooling capacity. A good cooling capacity is needed in sector 7-8 to extract the heat load induced by the electron cloud. Therefore, the number of bunches per beam was reduced from 1983 to 1215 the day after. On 24 April, the cryogenics team was ready to switch back to QUARC A and the cooling capacity was recovered by 25 April. A first fill with 1419 bunches was put in collision, successfully followed by a 1959-bunch fill during the night.

However, to reduce the heat load and leave the possibility open to further increase the total number of bunches, the injectors switched from bunch trains containing three batches of 48 bunches each to bunch trains with three batches of 36 bunches each. With this bunch pattern, the number of gaps in the bunch trains increases and the electron cloud production in the LHC decreases, hence the heat load to the cryogenics system.

LHC Page 1 on 30 April, with two successful fills with 2352 bunches per beam each. On the left, we see beams 1 and 2 in blue and red respectively. On the right, the luminosity of the four main LHC experiments. (Image: CERN)

On 26 April, the next intensity step was made, increasing the number of bunches from 1959 to 2211 bunches per beam. Over the following weekend, these 2211 bunches per beam, together with an excellent machine availability of 70% and beams in collision close to 58% of the time, resulted in an accumulation of 2.5 fb-1, which corresponds to a very encouraging 0.83 fb-1 per 24 hours.

On 29 April, after careful analysis, the cryogenics team concluded that there was indeed margin in the cryogenic cooling system to perform the final intensity step and increase to 2352 bunches per beam, still using the three batches of 36 bunches from the SPS.

Collisions with 2352 bunches per beam and a limited “squeeze” of the beam will be the default running mode for the time being, until the collimation hierarchy issue is understood and resolved. Despite this, the luminosity production is very good and looks promising for the remainder of the year.

anschaef Fri, 05/03/2024 - 10:41 Byline Rende Steerenberg Publication Date Fri, 05/03/2024 - 10:37

CERN and ENEA plan to develop liquid-metal technologies for particle accelerators

Τρί, 30/04/2024 - 14:17
CERN and ENEA plan to develop liquid-metal technologies for particle accelerators

CERN has established a partnership with ENEA, the Italian National Agency for New Technologies, Energy and Sustainable Economic Development, to develop new beam-intercepting devices using liquid-lead technologies.

This development could enhance the performance and reliability of particle accelerators worldwide and is essential for proposed future projects at CERN, such as the Future Circular Collider (FCC) and Muon Collider. FCC-ee collisions of intense electron and positron beams would produce a high-energy photon beam carrying up to 500 kW of power on each side of the interaction regions; liquid lead is an excellent and compact candidate to safely absorb this photon beam. The Muon Collider would need proton beams to interact with a target to supply muons. If the target was solid graphite, proton beams would be limited to 2 MW of power; a liquid-lead target, however, would be able to withstand more powerful proton beams and hence produce more muons. Looking at the intensity frontier, liquid-lead targets could also be applied to the production of neutrons and feebly interacting particles.

“By pooling our resources and expertise, we are confident that we can accelerate the development of liquid-metal-based beam-intercepting devices”, explains Marco Calviani, Head of the Target, Collimators and Dumps section at CERN. “This collaboration will unlock an enabling technology for new possibilities in fundamental research, applied science and applications for the benefit of society.”

“Together with CERN, we are well positioned to use our know-how of liquid-lead-based technology to push the boundaries of innovation and pave the way for transformative advancements in accelerator technology,” continues Mariano Tarantino, Head of the Nuclear Energy Systems Division at ENEA.

anschaef Tue, 04/30/2024 - 13:17 Byline Kate Kahle Publication Date Tue, 04/30/2024 - 13:14

Enhancing safety: improving seismic risk assessments

Τρί, 30/04/2024 - 12:41
Enhancing safety: improving seismic risk assessments

CERN is located in a particularly complex geological setting, which also happens to be prone to earthquakes. Seismic events of a certain magnitude have the potential to inflict substantial damage or lead to equipment failure, which naturally poses a risk to both personnel and assets.

Complex research infrastructures like CERN often boast unique technologies and equipment hidden deep underground. This presents a unique set of challenges, since there are currently no regulations covering either the structural systems or the subterranean infrastructure, resulting in a lack of established procedures for conducting seismic risk assessments. Regarding radiation shielding in particular, the prevailing approach frequently involves using high-density blocks to achieve the required level of shielding, an exceptional solution that is not regulated by European or Swiss norms.

Examples of concrete block configurations at CERN: beam line shielding in the Neutrino Platform trenches (left) and Proton Synchrotron East Area facility (right). (Image: CERN)

To bridge this gap and identify feasible solutions, CERN’s HSE unit and SCE and BE departments have been carrying out dedicated research for the last three years, in collaboration with the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne (EPFL), the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), the University of Montpellier and the European Centre for Training and Research in Earthquake Engineering (EUCENTRE). Together, they have performed full-scale seismic tests on a large shaking table at EUCENTRE to observe the dynamic behaviour of stacked concrete blocks. The numerical models were calibrated using the test data, enabling the simulation of the seismic behaviour of real block configurations at CERN. This research provides the basis for a novel methodology for the seismic risk assessment of this kind of structure, which is currently applied as a routine activity in areas such as the PS, SPS and LHC complex. Furthermore, the research has resulted in a clear procedure for calibrating the numerical models, as well as a methodology and risk assessment process that will be applied to future block configurations in new experiments and facilities to be built at CERN.

Shaking table tests were carried out at EUCENTRE in Pavia, Italy. The left image shows geometrical details, with dimensions in mm, of the specimen (middle image). The right image shows the tested accelerograms, which are compatible with the seismic design requirements for several ordinary buildings in Switzerland. (Image: CERN)

The collaboration was recently awarded the “Best Paper Award 2023” by the Engineering Structures journal for the paper entitled “Shaking table tests for seismic stability of stacked concrete blocks used for radiation shielding”.  According to Marco Andreini, senior structural engineer in the HSE-OHS group, “this award recognises the significance and impact of our work, not only for CERN but also for other similar complex infrastructures around the world.”

Looking ahead, it is hoped that this novel approach can be used by other large research infrastructures and beyond.

anschaef Tue, 04/30/2024 - 11:41 Byline HSE unit SCE department Publication Date Thu, 05/02/2024 - 10:00

MADMAX at the forefront of the search for axions

Τρί, 30/04/2024 - 10:43
MADMAX at the forefront of the search for axions

Imagine a set of classic Matryoshka dolls, each containing a smaller doll inside it. MADMAX – not the movie, but an experiment hosted in CERN’s largest experimental area, the SPS North Area – employs a similar technique to search for axions, a leading candidate for dark matter.

MADMAX (Magnetized Disk and Mirror Axion experiment) consists of multiple dielectric disks and a focusing mirror called the booster. Like the smaller dolls nestled within the larger ones, the booster is surrounded by an inner and outer vessel. There is a vacuum between these vessels to allow physics data taking at very low temperatures. Finally, the giant Morpurgo magnet serves as the outermost doll, providing the magnetic field essential for the experiment's operation. The Morpurgo magnet is the largest warm bore dipole in the world, with a 1.6-tesla magnetic field, and is mainly used to test subdetectors of the ATLAS experiment.

In February and March this year, the two new prototypes of MADMAX have come into action to collect physics data at room temperature and, for the first time, at close to liquid helium temperature.

“We used Closed Booster 200, our new 200-mm-disk prototype, to collect physics data at room temperature, and Closed Booster 100, our 100-mm-disk prototype, to collect data close to the temperature of liquid helium, at around 10 K (about -263 °C). At this temperature, the background thermal noise is lower than at room temperature, significantly increasing the sensitivity to axions,” explains Pascal Pralavorio, a physicist from the MADMAX collaboration.

The collected data was discussed in the MADMAX collaboration meeting held at CERN in March this year. The data is currently being analysed and the collaboration looks forward to sharing its physics results in the future.

In the last decade, physicists have explored several experimental approaches, such as the CERN Axion Solar Telescope, to search for axions. To date, no experiment has succeeded in finding them. If axions are discovered, it would have profound implications for our understanding of both particle physics and cosmology. Firstly, it would validate the existence of a new particle predicted by theorists more than 40 years ago, confirming our understanding of fundamental forces in the Universe. Secondly, since axions are considered a leading candidate for dark matter, their discovery could provide a direct explanation for this elusive substance that makes up a significant portion of the Universe.

MADMAX is a relatively young collaboration that started in 2017. Since 2020, CERN has provided the Morpurgo magnet to the experiment during technical stops, when the SPS beam is shut down. MADMAX benefits from a strong participation from across CERN for cryogenics, magnets, electrical power convertors, and safety and operations. It is one of the few experiments at CERN that are well suited for tests independent of beam time, as it does not require a particle beam from an accelerator.

The MADMAX collaboration is currently discussing with the SPS Committee the possibility of using the Morpurgo magnet for another programme of data taking during the Long Shutdown 3 of CERN’s accelerator complex, which will take place from 2026 to 2028.

ckrishna Tue, 04/30/2024 - 09:43 Byline Chetna Krishna Publication Date Mon, 05/13/2024 - 10:00

MADMAX at the forefront of the search for axions

Τρί, 30/04/2024 - 10:43
MADMAX at the forefront of the search for axions

Imagine a set of classic Matryoshka dolls, each containing a smaller doll inside it. MADMAX – not the movie, but an experiment hosted in CERN’s largest experimental area, the SPS North Area – employs a similar technique to search for axions, a leading candidate for dark matter.

MADMAX (Magnetized Disk and Mirror Axion experiment) consists of multiple dielectric disks and a focusing mirror called the booster. Like the smaller dolls nestled within the larger ones, the booster is surrounded by an inner and outer vessel. There is a vacuum between these vessels to allow physics data taking at very low temperatures. Finally, the giant Morpurgo magnet serves as the outermost doll, providing the magnetic field essential for the experiment's operation. The Morpurgo magnet is the largest warm bore dipole in the world, with a 1.6-tesla magnetic field, and is mainly used to test subdetectors of the ATLAS experiment.

In February and March this year, the two new prototypes of MADMAX have come into action to collect physics data at room temperature and, for the first time, at close to liquid helium temperature.

“We used Closed Booster 200, our new 200-mm-disk prototype, to collect physics data at room temperature, and Closed Booster 100, our 100-mm-disk prototype, to collect data close to the temperature of liquid helium, at around 10 K (about -263 °C). At this temperature, the background thermal noise is lower than at room temperature, significantly increasing the sensitivity to axions,” explains Pascal Pralavorio, a physicist from the MADMAX collaboration.

The collected data was discussed in the MADMAX collaboration meeting held at CERN in March this year. The data is currently being analysed and the collaboration looks forward to sharing its physics results in the future.

In the last decade, physicists have explored several experimental approaches, such as the CERN Axion Solar Telescope, to search for axions. To date, no experiment has succeeded in finding them. If axions are discovered, it would have profound implications for our understanding of both particle physics and cosmology. Firstly, it would validate the existence of a new particle predicted by theorists more than 40 years ago, confirming our understanding of fundamental forces in the Universe. Secondly, since axions are considered a leading candidate for dark matter, their discovery could provide a direct explanation for this elusive substance that makes up a significant portion of the Universe.

MADMAX is a relatively young collaboration that started in 2017. Since 2020, CERN has provided the Morpurgo magnet to the experiment during technical stops, when the SPS beam is shut down. MADMAX benefits from a strong participation from across CERN for cryogenics, magnets, electrical power convertors, and safety and operations. It is one of the few experiments at CERN that are well suited for tests independent of beam time, as it does not require a particle beam from an accelerator.

The MADMAX collaboration is currently discussing with the SPS Committee the possibility of using the Morpurgo magnet for another programme of data taking during the Long Shutdown 3 of CERN’s accelerator complex, which will take place from 2026 to 2028.

ckrishna Tue, 04/30/2024 - 09:43 Byline Chetna Krishna Publication Date Tue, 04/30/2024 - 09:30

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