Edward Lamere ’11 Exploring Physics Forces

Edward Lamere '11
Edward Lamere '11
Four main forces govern the behavior of all matter in the world around us: gravitational, electromagnetic, strong nuclear and weak nuclear. Physicists believe that, at large enough energies, these four forces can be described by a single theory rather than four separate theories. Working for his second summer under Professor of Physics Brian Collett and Professor of Physics Gordon Jones, Edward Lamere ’11 is working on a project to increase the accuracy of an experiment that links the electromagnetic and weak nuclear forces called aCORN.

The Standard Electro-Weak model is the accepted theory that attempts to unify the electromagnetic force and the weak nuclear force into a single model. While this model seems to accurately describe current experiments, it is supposed to be incomplete because it violates one of the basic principles of physics, “left-right symmetry.” The goal of the aCORN (“a” CORrelation in Neutron decay) project, an ongoing project at multiple institutions around the country, is to test the Standard Electro-Weak Model.

In a process called nuclear decay, a neutron breaks down into a proton, electron, and antineutrino. The Standard Electro-Weak Model predicts a value for the parameter known as “little a” (or “a”), which takes into account the angle at which these particles are released in relation to one another. By measuring “a” experimentally and comparing this value to what the equation predicts, the aCORN researchers hope to expose a hole in the model that will then allow them to refine the model itself.

Laboratories all over the world have been working for years to test the Standard Model, but attempts to use neutron decay have been limited due to large systematic errors. The aCORN experiment tries to avoid these errors by using a new method in their experiments to make neutron decay more accurate. With any luck, researchers will succeed in measuring “a” with less than one percent error.

To attain such accuracy in aCORN’s measurement it is essential to align the experiment’s magnetic field. Past researchers have developed a primary alignment system that allows quick calibration of the magnetic field. Unfortunately, this alignment system requires the removal of much of the internal apparatus, adding time and more potential problems to the experiment. Lamere’s job is to prove that a concept behind a secondary alignment system that will ensure that after the apparatus is reassembled that the field is still uniform.

This new alignment system uses a hot filament, which spews off electrons and is placed on one side of the magnetic field. The electrons are then directed at a series of electrically-distinct plates on the other end, which are connected to wires. When aligned properly, the wires will only detect current on a central plate, as the electrons will not be pushed to any side. If Lamere is successful, his alignment system design will be implemented in the large-scale apparatus, located at the National Institute of Standards and Technology headquarters in Gaithersburg, Maryland. A double major

A double major in mathematics and physics, Lamere is a tutor at the quantitative literacy center and is a grader for introductory physics classes. He hopes to pursue a graduate degree in physics or attend an engineering program after he graduates.

Lamere graduated from the Worcester Academy in Worcester, Mass.

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