Giant 50-foot magnet to make cross-country trek for physics experiment

May 9, 2013 at 3:20 PM   |   0 comments

BROOKHAVEN, N.Y., May 9 (UPI) -- U.S. physicists say they're planning a new experiment in particle physics -- but first there's the small matter of moving a 50-foot-diameter magnet 3,200 miles.

Along with colleagues from 26 institutions around the world, they are planning an experiment to study the properties of muons, tiny subatomic particles that exist for only 2.2 millionths of a second.

But first the core of the experimental equipment, a complex electromagnet 50 feet in diameter, needs to be moved from the U.S. Department of Energy's Brookhaven National Laboratory in New York to the department's Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Illinois.

The magnet, made of steel and aluminum with superconducting cable inside, is the core of an experimental machine built at Brookhaven in the 1990s that will be the centerpiece of the Fermi experiment.

The Muon g-2 team has devised a plan to make the 3,200-mile journey that involves loading the ring onto a specially prepared truck that will transport it to a barge that will bring it down the East Coast, around the tip of Florida and up the Mississippi River to Illinois.

"It costs about 10 times less to move the magnet from Brookhaven to Illinois than it would to build a new one," said Lee Roberts of Boston University, spokesman for the Muon g-2 experiment. "So that's what we're going to do. It's an enormous effort from all sides, but it will be worth it."

The ring is expected to leave New York in early June and land in Illinois in late July, a release from the Brookhaven lab reported Thursday.

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