Massive Magnet Completes Voyage to Fermilab

By Chris Bentley in News on Jul 27, 2013 8:45PM

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For many, mid-summer means road trips. If you've hit the highway between New York and Chicago since June 22, you may have had some unusual company. This week a 50-foot-wide electromagnetic ring arrived at Fermilab, completing a 3,200-mile journey from the Brookhaven National Laboratory on Long Island.

At 17 tons, the Muon g-2 is no simple cargo. But moving the ring from New York cost roughly one tenth what it would to build a new one on site.

The centerpiece of a Fermilab experiment examining the properties of subatomic particles called muons, the magnet can’t be taken apart or contorted without damaging its electromagnetic coils.

The big move involved travel by land, sea, and river, as the Muon g-2 floated by barge down the East Coast and up the Mississippi River before transport by truck to Fermilab outside Batavia, Ill.

Bad weather delayed its departure and threatened to derail the magnet’s trip at several points. But with a police escort it arrived safely just after 4 a.m. Friday, bearing bumping stickers that read “oversize load” and “Driving discovery in particle physics.”

The magnet should be operational sometime in 2014. Scientists and civilians alike celebrated its arrival; many followed the five-week journey on Twitter and on an interactive map with GPS data setup by Fermilab.

Festivities continue at 5:30 p.m. in Fermilab’s Wilson Hall. The Muon g-2 will pass by, pausing for a group photo around 6:30 p.m., on its way across campus. See videos below from the epic journey.