Fermilab Tours

We spent over three hours before lunch today touring seven sites around Fermilab. They included the DO and CDF assembly halls and control rooms, as well as a few random places like

  • the helium compressor station, it takes 5 megawatts of power to keep the liquid helium cooling the superconducting ring a few degrees above absolute zero,
  • the linear accelerators that do the initial acceleration of the protons
  • the accelerator control room
  • the views from the 15th floor of the main (and by far the highest) building, Wilson Hall,
  • and the silicon pixel detector assembly building, with millions of channels these are used for exteremely precise tracking of particles very close to the interaction point.

I uploaded many photos to my Fermilab folder in the gallery.

Setting up for neutron therapy at FermilabIt was interesting to pass the neutron therapy room along the linear accelerator. You walk down a hallway with gauges, big red lights, waveguides and a generally very industrial feel and all of a sudden you come to people wearing scrubs in a controll room and, just past them, a little waiting room. They use the accelerated helium ions to produce fast neutrons that are collimated and pointed very carefully at a patient’s tumor. While we walked by we could hear the physician speaking to patient on an intercom, telling them that the treatment was almost done. You don’t actually see the patient; they are strapped in very carefully and the small room is lowered to the level of the beam underground. I’d imagine it is a very scary process for the patient (though the patients have probably been through many other types of radiation treatments by this point, neutrons are mainly used on very resistant tumors.)

I’m really enjoying the summer school here. I’m learing a lot and the 9am-8pm days are not nearly as bad as I worried they might be. We get breaks between every lecture and lunch is especially long. As long as you show up rested you really don’t get worn out too much. Wilson Hall is very dramatic and so far I am enjoying hanging out there. The one clear deficency (compared to CERN) is the food and beverage. The coffee is standard American fare, and today I had some terribly dry turkey for dinner.

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