Scientists Moving 15-Ton Electromagnet from NY's Brookhaven National Laboratory to Chicago's Fermilab

  • Michael Briggs , Design & Trend Staff Writer
  • Jun, 16, 2013, 04:40 PM

Scientists at Long Island's Brookhaven National Laboratory are planning to transport a 50-foot-wide, 15-ton electromagnet from NY to Chicago in just five weeks. The magnet will travel 3,200 miles over land and sea to arrive at the U.S. Department of Energy's Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Illinois.  

"When we first started thinking about this, we all thought it wouldn't be possible," said Bill Morse, a physicist at Brookhaven National Lab. "But if you have a big problem, you find good people who can fix the problem. That's physics."

The move is expected to cost $3 million and will be a tricky haul for the group as the electromagnet can't be bent more than 1/8 of an inch or it will be ruined. The magnet was the largest in the world when it was built by the scientists at Brookhaven in the 1990s, according to Morse.

The magnet is no longer needed on Long Island and is being hauled to Fermilab for a new experiment called Muon g-2 which will study the properties of muons, subatomic particles that live only 2.2 millionths of a second. 

Constructing an entirely new electromagnet for the experiment would have cost up to $30 million, said Chris Polly, manager of the Muon g-2 project at Fermilab.

"We're excited to get this move underway," Polly said. "It's not often our neighbors get a ringside seat for something this complex and interesting." 

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