WBEZ | Batavia http://www.wbez.org/tags/batavia Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Huge magnetic ring coming to Chicago’s suburbs via the long road http://www.wbez.org/news/huge-magnetic-ring-coming-chicago%E2%80%99s-suburbs-long-road-107145 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Magic%20Ring%202_130513_LW.jpg" style="height: 412px; width: 620px;" title="The muon ring at Brookhaven National Laboratories. The 50-foot ring will be removed from its casings and separated from many attachments, but cannot be dismantled for transport to Fermilab. (Brookhaven National Laboratory)" /></div><p>Fermilab National Accelerator Laboratory in west suburban Batavia has a very unusual shipment coming this summer: an electromagnetic ring so wide its journey will shut down whole highways.</p><p>The ring, which looks like a huge hula-hoop, currently resides at Brookhaven National Laboratory on Long Island, where it&rsquo;s been used to conduct high-level experiments on tiny subatomic particles called muons.</p><p>&ldquo;We use them to probe the basic underlying structure of particle physics,&rdquo; said Chris Polly, a Fermilab physicist. &ldquo;What are the particles out there, how do they interact at the most fundamental level?&rdquo; But after being created by high-energy interactions between particles, they only exist for about two millionths of a second.</p><p>&ldquo;Right now, there&rsquo;s muons passing through you,&rdquo; Polly said. Those muons sometimes come to earth in &ldquo;showers&rdquo; produced by high-energy particle collisions in the earth&rsquo;s atmosphere; countless invisible muons shower down over wide areas. &ldquo;We sometimes build experiments that are a mile underground just because we&rsquo;re trying to get away from the muons.&rdquo;</p><p>Despite being common, muons are elusive and difficult to study. Because the miniscule particles exist so briefly before decaying into electrons and neutrinos, they have to be carefully suspended in a magnetic field for observation. That&rsquo;s where the magic muon ring comes in: the latest in muon experiments requires a very strong magnetic field, and the way to create that field is through a ring that&rsquo;s fifty feet in diameter, or about four highway lanes wide.</p><p>The muon ring&rsquo;s massive metal casings can be removed, but the ring itself has to stay in one piece and can&rsquo;t be tilted more than a few degrees. That means its journey to the western suburbs of Chicago this summer will begin with a barge trip down around the tip of Florida, through the Gulf of Mexico and up the Mississippi River to get to Chicago&rsquo;s waterways. The ring will then get off the boat at Lemont Port to be<a href="http://www.fnal.gov/pub/presspass/press_releases/2013/images/Muon-g-2-201305/Muon5-map-hires.jpg" target="_blank"> transported to the Batavia lab</a> using high-tech remote control carts. Between the carts, the ring and the entourage of police officers and scientists, the process is expected to shut down stretches of I-88 and I-355 overnight in July. <a href="http://www.fnal.gov/pub/presspass/press_releases/2013/images/Muon-g-2-201305/g-2_MoveMap_US-hires.jpg" target="_blank">The entire trip</a> is about 3,200 miles.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Magic%20Ring_130513_LW.jpg" style="height: 191px; width: 300px; float: right;" title="A model of the special cart that will transport the muon ring. The ring is taking a 3,200-mile trip from Long Island to Chicago’s Fermilab in summer of 2013. (Fermilab)" />Polly&rsquo;s excited about the ring&rsquo;s arrival because the previous Muon g-2 (pronounced &ldquo;g-minus-two&rdquo;) experiment at the Brookhaven Lab found inconsistencies not predicted by physicists. These anomalous observations could suggest the existence of a previously unknown particle; in other words, the Standard Model of physics could be proven to be incomplete.</div><p>The results of the Brookhaven experiment are suggestive but uncertain, mainly because a definitive answer would require 20 to 25 times more data than Brookhaven&rsquo;s researchers were able to gather with the technology available to them. Fermilab&rsquo;s advanced accelerator technology, some of which is left over from the now-defunct Tevatron, will allow the the lab to produce the necessary amount of muons for the experiment.</p><p>Fermilab broke ground last week on a new experimental lab to accompany the ring, and the ring won&rsquo;t be ready to experiment with until 2016. At that point, Polly says the experiment is expected to take three to four years to complete. But he says it&rsquo;s worth the wait.</p><p>&ldquo;It could be a harbinger of new physics,&rdquo; said Polly. &ldquo;There could be new particles in the universe.&rdquo;</p><p>The shipping cost for the magnetic donut is 2.5 million dollars, but Fermilab says that&rsquo;s just a tenth of what it would cost to build a new one.</p><p>You can watch a demonstration of the ring&rsquo;s mode of transportation and follow its actual movement this summer on the <a href="http://muon-g-2.fnal.gov/" target="_blank">Muon g-2 website</a>.</p><p><em>Lewis Wallace is a Pritzker Journalism Fellow at WBEZ. Follow him <a href="http://twitter.com/lewispants" target="_blank">@lewispants</a>.</em></p></p> Mon, 13 May 2013 16:11:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/huge-magnetic-ring-coming-chicago%E2%80%99s-suburbs-long-road-107145 What's ahead for Fermilab without massive particle collider Tevatron http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/whats-ahead-fermilab-without-massive-particle-collider-tevatron <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/tevatron fred ullrich.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The federal government recently announced it will no longer fund <a target="_blank" href="http://www.fnal.gov/">Fermilab</a>&rsquo;s massive particle collider and when <a target="_blank" href="http://www-bdnew.fnal.gov/tevatron/">Tevatron</a> stops operating later this year, up to 100 employees may also lose their jobs.</p><p>The particle collider in west suburban Batavia was once the world&rsquo;s most powerful. Then along came Europe&rsquo;s <a target="_blank" href="http://public.web.cern.ch/public/en/lhc/lhc-en.html">Large Hadron Collider</a>. So now that Fermilab has lost its crown jewel - what&rsquo;s next?</p><p>&quot;Eight Forty-Eight&quot; spoke to Fermilab&rsquo;s director, Pier Oddone. Dr. Oddone directs efforts at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Batavia, Ill. <br />&nbsp;</p></p> Wed, 12 Jan 2011 15:29:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/whats-ahead-fermilab-without-massive-particle-collider-tevatron