Thursday, July 23, 2015

Fun Times at Fermilab

Today was my class’s second field trip; we went to Fermilab. Fermilab is the US’s premiere particle physics lab, part of the United States Department of Energy. It had the world’s biggest particle accelerator, the Tevatron Collider, before it was decommissioned and the Large Hadron Collider took over. Now, it uses its other accelerators to experiment with neutrinos, which is what Dom and I are learning about for our research project.

This is the main building in all its majesticness(is that even a word?)
It's not an emergency exit; that's just on the window of the bus that I took this picture from.
The control center through a window. A nearby sign (not shown)
reads, "Please do not feed the technicians."
Our tour guide started us off by showing us the “feeding tube,” where they gave protons lots and lots of energy, and concentrated them into a beam. She told us that this beam was then fed into a larger circuit, where the experiments were actually performed. We walked through the building where this tube was housed, and saw the impressive control center where researchers controlled the experiments and monitored the accelerator 24/7/365.

After lunch, we actually got to talk to one of the scientists directly involved in experiments regarding neutrinos at Fermilab. She gave us a talk on the basics of neutrinos (however basic neutrinos can be, anyways), and then we asked her a variety of questions. The researcher told us what the daily life of a physicist was like, how to give a rough calculation for the age of the sun, and told us how tuning in music was related to neutrino oscillations, which was really cool.

This is some sort of guidance system; the old one that is no longer used is the big block on the right side.
It has been replaced by all the equipment on the left side of the room.
I’m not sure that I want to be a physicist, but the subject seems very interesting. You just have to get past all the terminology and nomenclature and truly understand the ideas before you can appreciate it, however. I might not be well-versed in particle physics, but now I want to read more about it so that I can understand the beautiful ideas that it contains…

No comments:

Post a Comment