Muon g-2

Onlookers cheered in the early morning as a 50-foot circular electromagnet finally arrived at its new home.

The Muon g-2 has traveled 3,200 miles from Brookhaven National Laboratory in New York, down the Atlantic coast, through the Gulf of Mexico, up the Mississippi River, to finally land by barge in Lemont. From there, it took three nights to drive to Batavia, closing streets and interstates along the way.

This was one of the widest loads ever to be transported across Illinois roads, requiring the closing of streets and removing signs that could be in the way. Therefore, traveling took place over three nights, and grew a big crowd each time.

“The biggest risk to the project is now retired,” said Chris Polly, Muon g-2 Project Manager. “We’re sitting here with the device, we just get to put it back together. Now the fun part starts.”

“My daughter was coming down the street and she saw this big object and she stopped somebody and she says ‘It’s a big, giant magnet coming. It’s a once-in a-lifetime thing.’ So we got in my car and we came down here to see it,” said Joyce Estrada, Downers Grove resident.

“I want to be a scientist and make experiments and build one of these some day,” said Tenleigh Vedok, age nine.

The Muon g-2 will study the “wobble” of muons, subatomic particles with a lifetime of only 2.2 millionths of a second.

“The idea is to see if there is any new Physics out there that we don’t know,” said Adam Lyon, a Scientist at Fermilab. “We have this thing called the Standard Model, which describes particle physics really well. We’re trying to poke holes in it. We’re experimentalists. The theorists tell us ‘Well this is the way nature should be,’ and we check it. It would be very exciting to find something the theory doesn’t explain.”

To build a new electromagnet would have cost about $30 million. To move costs only about $3 million, but it’s a tricky process. The Muon g-2 can’t twist or it will damage the ring entirely.

“There’s a special metal that it uses called niobium-titanium. It’s as fine as human hair. If the magnet twists then we have the possibility of breaking these delicate strands,” said Hogan Nguyen, Lead Scientist for the Muon g-2.

In charge of moving the device was Emmert International, an Oregon-based company that specializes in heavy haul transportation.

“We’re just so fortunate that we have great guys that have great depth perception,” said Terry Emmert, President of Emmert International. “Remember they have the guys on the ground and when they get into tight spots, there’s a man on each side watching to make sure we have the clearance, all radio communication and we just take it slow and easy to make sure the load arrives perfectly safe.”

At the end of the journey, Fermilab had a party where people could watch as the Muon g-2 traveled across the campus, landing at its final home.

Fermilab is building a new facility where the electromagnet will be housed that will be done in January.

The Muon g-2 is expected to be ready to collect data in 2016.

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