A trip to see a Particle Accelerator!

Ok. So geek is maybe my middle name. I secretly want to be a scientist when I grow up. ;)
But I've met enough scientists to know that that specific line of work and the people who do it are waaaaaaaay out of my league in terms of brain power. I admire it for sure, but I'm not that "kind of thinker" if you know what I mean.

So let me start at the beginning. Shawn met some nerdy guys online playing nerdy online first person shooter games.

Two of them came up for a visit last night. Ben and his wife Katrina stayed with us since they came up from Indianapolis, and then Denton drove up from a suburb south of us. They gamed and I took Katrina to IKEA for some fun. Then we all sat around and had dinner and talked for a few hours. Then the guys gamed a bit more and Katrina and I went to bed. (Crazy guys, Katrina and I called it quits and midnight and Ben and Shawn just kept going)

Denton invited us to his home for lunch and a tour of Fermilab where he works. They have the particle acclerator there and so we got a fantastic tour. Denton is extremely passionate about his work and SO smart and he told us some amazing facts that I wish I had written down now.

Anyway. I took a bunch of pictures and I'm going to ask him about some of them so I can add some proper information later. But for now here are some pics from  our day.

Looking out from the 15th floor.

In the center of the photo you see a berm with what looks like a steel track on top? The accelerator is under there. It is four miles around. For comparison the Hadron Collider is 17 miles around. 

So this is what it looks like on the inside, those large blue rectangles are the magnets. (this is just a mock up).

This copper starts out like this and gets stretched out until all the little parts in the middle (cannot recall the term, tired brain sorry) are as thin as a strand of hair. They are inside that tube and about the diameter of a pencil maybe? Maybe a little smaller than that.

Denton worked on this in New Mexico, we thought this was cool. 

In a control room. They were so nice to let us in while they were working. One of the guys even gave the kids money for the candy machine (like the gumball machines) so they could have some Skittles.

Three geeks and one in training. :) 

Denton, Shawn and Ben.

Thanks Denton, we had a WONDERFUL time, the tour was fantastic!

I have more pictures I will get up tomorrow, I took some on my little camera too, but the battery died and it is still charging before I can dump the camera.

Thanks for looking! (Sorry I don't know any of the technical terms for stuff. What I should do is have Denton narrate for us! :) )


Jennifer said...

Wow, that's sooooo cool!!!!

Marlene said...

Ok, so, just what IS a Particle Accelerator and what does it do and why? I'm not a geek so I am clueless but interested! :)