After more than a month of travel by land and sea, a huge donut-shaped electromagnet crossed the finish line on its 3,200-mile (5,000-kilometer) journey from New York to Illinois.
Since late June, the massive magnet had been moving at a breakneck pace to its new home at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, or Fermilab, in Batavia, a Chicago suburb. As the centerpiece of a future physics experiment called Muon g-2 (pronounced “gee minus two”), the magnet will be used to capture and store muons, rare subatomic particles that only exist for 2, 2 millionths of a second.
From its original location at Brookhaven National Lab on Long Island, the 50-foot-wide (15-meter) machine had to be trucked and carefully loaded onto a barge, which transported it along the coast. Atlantic, around the tip of Florida. , across the Gulf of Mexico and into the mouth of the Mississippi River, pushed by tugs. [See Photos from the Magnet’s Long Voyage]
Last weekend, the odd cargo reached a port in Lemont, Illinois along the Des Plaines River, where it was again greeted by a specially equipped truck. After three slow night trips and escorted by the police, the magnet finally entered the doors of Fermilab in the wee hours of Friday morning. The lab was scheduled to hold a public celebration Friday afternoon to salute the gargantuan particle capture ring.
The trip was slow and winding as the slightest tilt or twist could irreparably damage the complex wiring inside the 15 ton (13.6 ton) magnet. The trip would have cost $ 3 million, but officials said it would have cost 10 times as much to build a new magnet at Fermilab.
Previous experiments at Brookhaven have suggested that muons do not behave as predicted by the dominant theory of particle physics, the Standard Model. Scientists hope to obtain more precise data on these exotic particles using a powerful Fermilab accelerator capable of generating a more intense and purer muon beam.
The Muon g-2 experiment is expected to start in 2016 and will involve 26 institutions around the world.