Vince Cianciolo, a physicist at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, will speak on Tuesday, Sept. 14, to Friends of ORNL on “How Did the Big Bang Create Matter?” It is thought that a precise measurement of the shape of the neutron, the neutral particle in the atom’s nucleus, might unravel the mystery of why matter exists in the universe.
The FORNL lecture is open to the public. To view the virtual lecture, click on the talk title on the homepage of the www.fornl.org website and click on the Zoom link at the top of the page describing the lecture.
Determining the shape of the neutron with unprecedented precision is the goal of the [email protected] experiment, under construction at the Spallation Neutron Source (SNS) at ORNL. The “nEDM” in the experiment’s name stands for the electron dipole moment of the neutron.
“Is the neutron round?” Cianciolo asked. “If not, so what?” He explained that in his talk, “I will provide a high-level overview of why the existence of matter is an ongoing mystery and the relationship of this mystery to the shape of the neutron. I will also describe an experiment, under development at the SNS, that aims to improve the neutron EDM measurement precision by nearly two orders of magnitude” (i.e., ~100 times).
He provided this background information.
“Matter should not exist – according to the laws of physics as we currently understand them – empirical evidence very much to the contrary. The secret to understanding this paradox may be revealed by high-precision measurements of the neutron’s shape, quantified by its electric dipole moment.
“Steadily improving measurements of the neutron’s EDM have been made over the last 70 years. For decades, world-record neutron EDM measurements were carried out at ORNL, thanks to our powerful neutron sources. The SNS provides an opportunity to reclaim that record and perhaps prove that the neutron is not round and explain why matter exists.”
Born and raised in the Detroit suburbs, Cianciolo earned a B.S. degree in physics from the University of Michigan and a Ph.D. in physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Employed by the ORNL Physics Division since 1997, he initially performed innovative work for the PHENIX experiment at the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider at Brookhaven National Laboratory, a Department of Energy national lab like ORNL. As a result of his work there, he received the Lockheed Martin Technical Achievement Award in 1999 and a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers in 2001.
“Since 2009 my work has focused on the development of an experiment to measure the neutron’s electric dipole moment at the Spallation Neutron Source,” he said. “The goal of the experiment is to determine the degree to which the neutron’s charge distribution is not perfectly round, a measurement that may be curiously related to the unknown reason why matter exists in the universe.”
The [email protected] experiment, under construction at ORNL’s Spallation Neutron Source, will measure the neutron’s shape with unprecedented precision, possibly helping to unravel the mystery of why matter exists in the universe.