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The Top 10 Things You Didn't Know About Brookhaven National Lab!

This article is part of the series highlighting the “Top Things You Didn’t Know About…” by Ben Dotson.

Gordon Danby and James Powell patent Maglev

1968: Brookhaven researchers Gordon Danby and James Powell patent Maglev, the principle of superfast magnetically levitated transportation.

10. In 1968, Brookhaven researchers Gordon Danby and James Powell patented Maglev, the principle of superfast magnetically-levitated transportation.

9. In 1958, Brookhaven scientists built one of the first video games ever created, Tennis for Two, to entertain visitors at the Lab's annual visitors' day. Two people played the electronic tennis game with separate controllers that connected to an analog computer and used an oscilloscope, a type of electronic test instrument, as a screen.

8. Brookhaven is home to the NASA Space Radiation Laboratory, which studies the effects of space radiation on biological and physical systems. Using beams of heavy ions provided by the Lab's Booster Accelerator to simulate space radiation, research at the Space Radiation Laboratory will help scientists develop methods and materials that reduce the risks for human beings exposed to ionizing radiation on future long-term space missions.

7. Brookhaven researchers have discovered many new subatomic particles, including: the muon neutrino, the K meson, the omega-minus particle, the charmed baryon, neutral and negative sigma baryons, the phi vector meson, the antiparticles Xi-minus and Xi-zero, and the J/psi particle, whose discovery won Samuel C. C. Ting a share of the 1976 Nobel Prize in Physics.

6. The Cosmotron, a particle accelerator in operation at Brookhaven from 1952-1966, was the first accelerator in the world to send particles to energies in the billion electron volt, or GeV, energy range. The Cosmotron was also the first synchrotron, or time dependent particle accelerator, to provide an external beam of particles for experimentation outside the accelerator itself.

5. Developed at Brookhaven in the 1960s, Levodopa, or “L-dopa,” a medicine that the brain converts to dopamine, is still the gold standard for treating Parkinson’s disease.

4. Physicists using Brookhaven’s Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider, a type of particle accelerator, discovered a perfect liquid made entirely of quarks and gluons in 2005. This quark-gluon plasma is a type of matter thought by scientists to have existed microseconds after the Big Bang.

3. Brookhaven scientists were the first to chemically synthesize a human protein — insulin. This work paved the way for later production of human insulin, which replaced animal insulin in the treatment of diabetes.

2. The High Flux Beam Reactor (HFBR) was a small research reactor that operated at Brookhaven from 1965 through 1996 and provided a source of neutrons for multidisciplinary scientific research. The structure of the "protein factory" of the cell, the 16-part ribosome, was first revealed at the HFBR, as was the structure of myelin, the protein that coats nerve cells. In a series of experimental milestones, scientists using the HFBR determined the structures of the 23 amino acids that make up every protein in every cell in living things.

1. More than 100 scientists at Brookhaven Lab were involved in designing, building and running the experiments that discovered the Higgs boson particle in collisions of protons at Europe's Large Hadron Collider in 2012. In 2013, theorists Peter Higgs and Francois Englert received the Nobel Prize in Physics for their work developing the theory of what is now known as the Higgs field, which gives elementary particles mass.

2014-4923  |  INT/EXT  |  Media & Communications Office

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Harnessing Spin Could Lead to a New Generation of Electronics

stacked vortices

This illustration shows an array of stacked vortices, each measuring a few hundred nanometers in diameter.

Brookhaven scientists are seeking ways to synchronize the magnetic spins in nanoscale devices to build tiny yet more powerful signal-generating or receiving antennas and other electronics. The latest study shows that stacked nanoscale magnetic vortices separated by an extremely thin layer of copper can be driven to operate in unison, potentially producing a powerful signal that could be put to work in a new generation of cell phones, computers, and other applications.

"Harnessing spin could open the door for much more compact and novel types of antennas," said Brookhaven physicist Javier Pulecio, lead author on the new study. The aim of this "spintronic" technology revolution is to harness the power of an electron's "spin," the property responsible for magnetism, rather than its negative charge. 

"Almost all of today's electronic technology, from the light bulb to the smartphone, involves the movement of charge," said Pulecio. "But harnessing spin could open the door for much more compact and novel types of antennas that act as spin wave emitters, signal generators—such as the clocks that synchronize everything that goes on inside a computer—as well as memory and logic devices." 

To learn more visit:

2014-4924  |  INT/EXT  |  Media & Communications Office

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Mark Your Calendars for Summer Sundays 2014

summer sundays

Balloon demonstrations inside the ring building of Brookhaven National Laboratory's newest facility, the National Synchrotron Light Source II.

Brookhaven will host four Summer Sunday open houses during July and August. The Lab’s Light Sources – I and II will be featured on July 13. Visit our Center for Functional Nanomaterials on July 20. There will be a double feature on July 27 when both the National Weather Service and our Science Learning Center will be open for visitors. On August 3, tour our particle detectors at the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC). Tours are free! Gates open at 10 AM. Visitors 16 and older must bring a photo ID. 

Watch for a detailed schedule in the June edition of LabLink or visit: for more information.

2014-4925  |  INT/EXT  |  Media & Communications Office

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  • June 12 – Community Advisory Council meeting, 6:30 PM. Berkner Hall, Room B.

*The events listed above are free and open to the public. Visitors 16 and older must bring a photo ID for access to BNL events.

2014-4926  |  INT/EXT  |  Media & Communications Office