Just because Fermilab has turned off its famous Tevartron in 2011 does not mean that the entire facility closed with it. In fact, the Chicago-area physics lab is embarking on a promising plan to develop some of the world’s most powerful proton beam technologies by the end of the decade. But first, researchers must install a 15-meter-diameter electromagnet shipped from 3,000 miles and uncover the secret life of elusive subatomic particles. No sweat, right?
Dubbed the Muon G-2 Ring, this 50-foot-wide steel and aluminum electromagnet originally resided at Brookhaven National Laboratory where it helped produce the initial data that led to the identification of muons. , rare subatomic particles with a shelf life of only 2.2 millionths. of a second, in the 1990s. The problem was that the Brookhaven proton beam was not powerful enough to correctly determine the exact characteristics of the muons, especially their oscillation. You see, when introduced into an electromagnetic field, the muons wobble slightly, like a spinning top losing momentum. The researchers were able to calculate the precise value of the oscillation to six decimal places, but what they saw didn’t match what their calculations said they should be. There is a possibility, the researchers concluded, that an unknown particle was behind it, but their malnourished proton beam caused huge margins of error and made the data statistically insignificant.
“Fermilab can generate a much more intense and pure muon beam, so the Muon g-2 experiment should be able to close this margin of error,” said Chris Polly, project manager for Fermilab, press release . “If we can do that, this experiment might indicate that there is exciting science awaiting beyond what we have observed.”
That’s why Fermilab spent $ 3 million to ship the ring from Long Island, New York, to the tip of Florida via a barge, and up the Mississippi River to Illinois. The movement was extremely slow with a maximum earth speed of just 10 MPH – like the space shuttle moving through downtown LA, the space shuttle was five lanes wide, weighed 17 tons, and could not flex more than 2 mm without breaking. But hey, it’s still cheaper than spending $ 30 million to build a new one on the spot.
The ring arrived safely at Fermilab last Thursday, much to the delight of resident researchers and once operational, could lead to the identification of dark matter particles, or at least explain why muon magnetism is still far away from the mathematical model with a theoretical value of two.
“This difference from two is because virtual quantum particles fluctuate in and out of a vacuum, so they appear and disappear, but they change the magnetism of the muon,” said Bradley Roberts, a professor of physics at Boston University helping to lead the Fermilab experiment. Chicago Tribune.
This is where the new Muon g-2 ring comes in. It produces a very precise magnetic field, which will allow researchers to more accurately measure muon oscillation. But first, Fermilab technicians will have to produce a stream of muons. This is done by breaking up clusters of protons, 1012 particles in each cluster, set 12 times per second in a fixed target. This process generates pions, which are then guided to the 45-foot-diameter muon delivery ring through a series of magnets until they finish decaying into muons. From there, the new muons are quickly transferred to the new 15-meter precision storage ring for observation.
Like the Fermilab Muon G-2 test page Explain :
When placed in a magnetic field, the muon – with its miniature bar magnet – accelerates because of the torque that the magnetic field exerts on the muon’s magnetic torque. The muon’s g-value is altered by particles that appear and disappear in a vacuum. Thus, the muon precession rate is also modified, by the amount g-2.
The Standard Model of particle physics makes a very accurate prediction of the muon g-2, accurate to 400 parts per billion. The aim of the Fermilab Muon g-2 experiment is to make an accurate measurement at 140 parts per billion. This is equivalent to measuring the length of a football field with an accuracy of one tenth of the thickness of a human hair. With this increased precision, scientists can compare the experimental measurement of g-2 to the Standard Model prediction. The difference between the two values should provide an unambiguous answer to the question: Are there new particles and forces that exist in nature?
“This could be a major discovery,” Fermilab spokesman Lee Roberts told the Tribune, potentially opening up a whole new area of particle physics. We will still have to wait a bit to find out. The magnetic ring requires another three years of setup and assembly before we can begin experiments, hopefully in 2016. [Fermi Lab – CBS Local – Chicago Tribune – Top Image: Brookhaven National Laboratory]