Author Archives: Lizzie

On the road

We’re officially on the road!  We left New York on Sunday night, enjoyed an excellent tour of Oak Ridge National Laboratory on Tuesday, and are now in Chicago, getting ready to go to Fermilab tomorrow.  We were hoping that things would calm down once we got moving (leaving us more time to blog!), but this trip seems to be taking on a mind of its own. In just the last few days, we’ve added Argonne National Laboratory and JPL to our itinerary.  Thanks to everyone for your interest in this project, and check back soon for posts about Brookhaven, Oak Ridge, and Fermilab!

-Lizzie and Nick

Brookhaven: “There’s no physics without foil”

Before our visit last week, I had been to Brookhaven once before: for the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider’s (RHIC) Summer Sunday, the machine’s community meet-and-greet. I thought walking around in the accelerator tunnel and seeing the house-sized detectors up close had given me a pretty good idea of the scale of the experiments. But this year, Nick and I visited RHIC in the middle of a run. I knew that hundreds of scientists work on the PHENIX and STAR experiments, but I didn’t appreciate the level of coordination and cooperation that goes into making that happen.
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Here are some questions I hope to investigate during our trip, in no particular order:

How do labs like Oak Ridge and Los Alamos incorporate their history while moving forward with their scientific and philosophic missions?

Are multi-use labs the way to go in terms of funding, public interest, and continuing relevance?  Can they help physics become more interdisciplinary?  What are the benefits and drawbacks of interdisciplinary science — and how do such collaborations work?

What are the prospects for the International Linear Collider and other future high energy physics experiments?  What are the chances they will be located in the U.S. — particularly at Fermilab?

How does having a physics lab in town change the surrounding community?

What can’t the LHC explore? How can lower energy American labs fill the gaps?

How will the U.S.’s political climate influence support for current and future projects? Has the current administration’s stated support for basic research changed any realities or expectations?

What happened to the Superconducting Super Collider? What lessons have we learned for future projects? Has the science been incorporated into other projects?

What will Fermilab do when the Tevatron shuts down? What will its new niche be now that it is not the highest energy collider in the world?

Do you have questions of your own? Leave them in the comments!