Fermilab names Nigel Lockyer as new director

Nigel Lockyer

Physicist Nigel Lockyer has been appointed the new director of the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Batavia, Illinois. In September he will move from his post as director of TRIUMF, Canada’s national laboratory for particle and nuclear physics in Vancouver. Lockyer spent many years working on Fermilab’s Tevatron, and earned renown for measuring the lifetime of the bottom quark. Under his lead, TRIUMF built new experiments and international agreements, worked to produce better medical isotope supplies, and developed a commercialization arm, Advanced Applied Physics Solutions. Nature spoke with him about Fermilab’s future focus on a large neutrino experiment.  Read more

Canadian accelerator produces a city’s-worth of medical isotopes overnight

Canadian accelerator produces a city’s-worth of medical isotopes overnight

The looming problem of a global medical isotope shortage is one step closer to a solution. A Canadian team has developed an upgrade that allows hospital cyclotrons to make a much-needed diagnostic tracer, and has proven it can pump out enough overnight to fulfil a city’s needs the next day.  Read more

Seismic fault’s temperature implies deadly earthquake involved low friction

Researchers have come a step closer to understanding how and why the earthquake and tsunami that devastated Japan in 2011 were so surprisingly big. Temperature sensors installed in the fault last year now show that friction between the rocks during the quake was an order of magnitude smaller than previously assumed.  Read more

Further proof for controversial quantum computer

Is the world’s only commercial quantum computer really a quantum device, or a just regular computer in disguise? Controversy has long swirled around the computer produced by D-Wave, a company based near Vancouver, Canada. Now a paper published on the arXiv preprint server takes a step forward in showing that it really does operate on a quantum level.  Read more

Earthquake triggers tsunami warning in Hawaii

The location of the 7.7 quake

A 7.7 earthquake off the west coast of Canada on Saturday evening triggered a series of tsunami alerts for the Pacific and some coastal evacuations in Hawaii. Although the quake was fairly large – the biggest Canada has seen in some 60 years – it produced waves of only about a metre in Hilo, Hawaii, and less than about 0.3 meters in California and British Columbia.  Read more

Huge phytoplankton bloom found under Arctic ice

Huge phytoplankton bloom found under Arctic ice

Researchers have been shocked to find a record-breaking phytoplankton bloom hidden under Arctic ice. “It’s much bigger [in concentration] than any natural open water bloom in the most productive ecosystems in the world,” says Kevin Arrigo, of Stanford University in California. “The growth rates were astonishingly high – these cells were doubling more than once every day.”  … Read more

All eyes on Venus

Will you be able to see the transit?

Telescopes around the world – and in space – will be aimed at the Sun today to catch the rare astronomical event of a transit of Venus. Our planetary neighbour only crosses in front of the Sun (from the viewpoint of Earth, that is) twice every 120 years or so.  The last time this happened was in 2004; it won’t happen again until 2117.  Read more

Star science-education researcher leaves the White House

Carl Wieman served with the Office of Science and Technology Policy from 2010-2011

Nobel Prize winning physicist Carl Wieman, who has been a leading light in the Obama administration’s push to improve science education, is leaving his post as associate director for science at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP). Wieman is stepping down as of 2 June for “personal reasons”, confirmed OSTP communications director Rick Weiss in an email to Nature today.  Read more