Giant electromagnet’s journey to end next week at Fermilab
Sun-Times Media July 17, 2013 4:10PM
The Muon g-2 ring is transported across the Brookhaven National Laboratory site on Long Island on June 22, 2013. | Courtesy Brookhaven National Laboratory.
Updated: August 19, 2013 3:49PM
For the past month, a 50-foot-wide circular electromagnet has been on a fantastic journey to Fermilab in Batavia.
The magnet is moving from Brookhaven National Laboratory in New York to Fermilab. On July 26, that voyage is expected to conclude, and Fermilab is planning a party for the public to celebrate its new acquisition.
The magnet is the centerpiece of Fermilab’s new Muon g-2 experiment, which will study the properties of elusive subatomic particles called muons. The ring was built at Brookhaven in the 1990s for a similar experiment.
Moving the ring to Illinois from New York costs about 10 times less than building a new one. So the magnet, which essentially is three rings of aluminum with superconducting coils inside, has spent the last few weeks on a barge heading down the East Coast, around the tip of Florida, into the Gulf of Mexico and then up a series of rivers toward Lemont.
It’s been a tricky voyage, because the 17-ton ring cannot be taken apart or twisted more than a few degrees without irreparably damaging the coils inside.
The ring is expected to arrive in Lemont this weekend and will be moved from the barge to a specially adapted truck that will drive it along interstate routes and through suburban streets to Fermilab. The ring will move at night Tuesday through Thursday, using rolling roadblocks to close intersections, and the truck will use portions of Interstate 355, I-88 and some local roads.
The electromagnet is expected to arrive at Fermilab site early July 26.
“It’s been a very long journey, and it took a lot of work from dozens of people,” said Chris Polly, the project’s manager at Fermilab. “Now that it’s almost here, the excitement is building. We’re eager to get the magnet here and start the experiment.”
On the afternoon of its arrival, the ring will move the last few miles across the Fermilab site. The public is invited to celebrate the ring’s arrival along with Fermilab scientists and employees, starting at 5:30 p.m. at Wilson Hall. There will be hands-on activities for families, and scientists on the Muon g-2 experiment will be available to answer questions.
When the ring arrives at Wilson Hall, the action will move outside. Attendees will be able to watch the ring roll past the reflecting pond, and they will have the opportunity to pose for a group photo with the magnet before it moves to its final destination.
“A 50-foot-wide electromagnet rolling down a road is really something to see,” said David Hertzog of the University of Washington, co-spokesman for the Muon g-2 experiment. “As excited as we are about the new physics this experiment may uncover, we’re equally thrilled to see the magnet making its last few steps home.”