Visiting Fermilab: Magnet Students Go to Chicago

At the end of January, a group of students from Blair and Wootton joined a group of students crossing the Atlantic from Finland to visit Fermilab in Chicago as part of the Trans-Atlantic Science Schools program. The following are excerpts from a blog written by the students, primarily by Seniors Raymond Lin, Ethan Holland, Rona Yu, Brian Morris, and Noah Fang.

January 25, 2016: We have safely arrived in Chicago, and are beginning to make new friends. We are looking forward to our first trip to Fermilab tomorrow!

January 26, 2016: Today was our first day at Fermilab! We began the day by taking a tour of the visually stunning Wilson Hall, where we started out with a brief introduction to Fermilab's history and purpose.

Next, we went up to the 15th floor, where we could see Fermilab's various facilities. We learned about the Standard Model, and were introduced to the four functioning accelerators (the radio frequency quadrupole, linear accelerator (Linac), booster ring, and main injector), as well as the decommissioned Tevatron, which was once the world's largest and most powerful particle accelerator. After CERN's Large Hadron Collider (LHC) came online, Fermilab shifted from a focus on high energy physics to one on neutrinos and muons, becoming the "neutrino capital of the world." We then discussed one ongoing muon experiment (the Muon g-2 experiment) and one in the works (the Mu2e experiment). Next, we learned about how Fermilab creates neutrino beams, and how particles are detected using scintillating plastics. We were then able to visit the proton source, the Linac, and the control center, and subsequently broke for lunch in the Fermilab cafeteria.

Following our meal, we had a Q&A session with Fermilab physicist Dr. Don Lincoln, where we explored current theories of physics beyond the Standard Model. We then broke into groups, and visited sites around the Fermilab campus.

We traveled 100 meters underground to visit the MINOS, MINERvA, and NOvA detectors. These are experiments that endeavor to study neutrino oscillation, and are near detectors for long baseline experiments.

We also visited D-0, which is a facility on the decommissioned Tevatron accelerator. D-0 was a high energy detection device meant to sense products of proton-antiproton annihilation. We had the opportunity to go into the tunnel housing the Tevatron ring in which particles were accelerated.

Part of the group was able to explore a cryogenic facility. There was one building containing a pair of testing cavitiesÂť (these were closed cement structures). One was for testing a radio frequency accelerator tester, while the other was for testing cryomodules to be used at a Stanford particle accelerator. The other building at the cryogenic facility was a cyclotron that was still under construction, and to be finished in 2019.

January 27, 2016: Today was our second day at Fermilab! We continued visiting facilities on the Fermilab campus. As we were in three distinct groups, we kept rotating through the sites that were discussed in yesterday's post. Then, we regrouped for lunch. Right after lunch, we listened to a talk by Dr. Hugh Lippincott on exploring and identifying dark matter.

After taking our first group photo, we had an hour of free time to revisit the exhibits at Wilson Hall. Next, we visited the Lederman Science Center, where we were able to buy souvenirs and interact with hands-on exhibits on particle accelerators. After the exploration center, we took our second group picture, and attended a lecture by Dr. Brian Fields on near-earth supernova explosions.

January 28, 2016: We had a wonderful day at the University of Chicago! In the morning, we were greeted by several physics undergraduates and heard a talk by a graduate student. We then had a Q&A session with the chair of the University of Chicago department of physics, Dr. Edward Blucher. Afterward, we ate lunch in a university dining hall and attended an admissions session and tour.

Next, we were fortunate enough to attend a colloquium by Dr. Margaret Gardel on her research in the field of biophysics. Finally, we had dinner on campus and returned to our hotel. We are excited to visit the Museum of Science and Industry and play tourist tomorrow! Check out our gallery for photos.

January 29, 2016: Today, we had an exciting day exploring Chicago! We began our day at the Museum of Science and Industry, where we got to see many exhibits on topics ranging from weather to toy building to the human body. Next, we traveled to Millennium Park, where we took group photos in front of The Bean. We then split up into groups, ate lunch in Chicago, and visited various tourist attractions such as the John Hancock Tower, the Water Tower Place, and the Navy Pier.

We subsequently ate dinner, and returned to our hotel for the night. We are sad that we are nearing the end of our exciting trip, and that we are leaving our Finnish friends tomorrow, but we exchanged contact information so we can keep in touch.

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