Brain Food 10
 
Knowledge once gained casts a light beyond its own immediate boundaries.
~John Tyndall
Scientists Beaming with Main Injector

Beam this up, Scottie—it's the Main Injector, one of Fermilab's most recent projects. This new "fourth gear" in the chain of accelerators takes protons from the Booster and antiprotons from the Antiproton Source and gives them a few more "kicks" to increase their energy before injecting the beams into the Tevatron or releasing protons directly to the fixed-target experiments. This new system has replaced the Main Ring and has increased the efficiency of the research with both the Tevatron and the fixed-target experiments.
The Main Injector demonstrates that bigger is not always better. Although smaller than the Main Ring, which could only run one type of experiment at a time, the Main Injector provides scientists with enough protons to run collider and fixed-target experiments simultaneously. In the past, scientists performing fixed-target research had to take turns using the Tevatron with researchers doing collider experiments because there weren't enough protons to "go around."
To further increase the efficiency of the accelerators, scientists at Fermilab have also added the Recycler, which will catch and store leftover antiprotons following proton-antiproton collisions in the Tevatron. Both the Recycler and the Main Injector will play key roles in Run II of the Tevatron, which is scheduled to begin in 2000.

 


Atomic vs. Particle Physics

Q: What is the difference between atomic and particle physics?

A: Atomic physics deals with the structure of atoms and molecules, and the behavior of the protons, neutrons, and electrons that make them up. Particle physics, which is what is done at Fermilab, is the study of particles even more basic than protons and neutrons, such as quarks, muons, and neutrinos. Some quarks make up protons and neutrons, and some make other types of particles that we only see in particle accelerators such as Fermilab's Tevatron.

 


Dear Ms. Fermi

Dear Ms. Fermi,
What is the meaning of Fermilab's logo?
Sincerely,
Confused in California

Dear Confused,
Fermilab's logo, (on the front page of this paper) represents a combination of the two types of magnets used in Fermilab's accelerators to guide particles. The two short, parallel segments are dipole magnets. These magnets keep particles moving in a circle. The four longer, curved segments are quadrupole magnets. These magnets "focus the beam," that is, they keep the particles in the accelerator from crashing into the sides of the beam pipe.

Dear Ms. Fermi,
Where did Fermilab get its name?
Yours Truly,
Wondering in Wyoming

Dear Wondering,
Fermilab was named in honor of Enrico Fermi, an Italian physicist born in 1901. He is best remembered for his work that led to the development of atomic fission as well as the Nobel Prize he received for the discovery of neutron-induced transmutation (the changing of an atom of one element into an atom of another). Even though he died in 1954, scientists at Fermilab and all over the world continue to test many of Fermi's ideas.

Dear Ms. Fermi,
What kind of magnets does Fermilab use to guide particles through the Tevatron?
Respectfully yours,
Interested in Iowa

Dear Interested,
The Tevatron uses 1,000 superconducting magnets cooled by liquid helium. These magnets are made from a niobium-titanium alloy and are cooled to about -450° Fahrenheit, enabling the magnets to carry powerful electric currents with no loss of energy.

Dear Ms. Fermi,
Where does Fermilab get all of its money?
Love,
Musing in Montana

Dear Musing, Fermilab is primarily funded by the United States Department of Energy (DOE). However, many universities, companies, and organizations from all over the world also contribute to the lab.