More than 12,000 people took advantage of the opportunity to attend Jefferson Lab’s “New Era of Science” Open House on April 30, 2016.
The record-breaking turn out for a Jefferson Lab open house occurred despite cool temperatures and overcast skies. Assisted by more than 450 volunteers, visitors explored nearly all of the major facilities at the lab, including the CEBAF accelerator, three of the lab’s four experimental halls, the Low Energy Recirculator Facility, the Superconducting Radiofrequency Institute and the Data Center.
A steady flow of guests visited the lab’s newest area for carrying out fundamental nuclear physics research – Experimental Hall D. They visited the hall’s control room before venturing down into the hall to see its superconducting solenoid magnet that is approximately 12 feet long and weighs about 300 tons, as well as the hall’s state-of-the-art detector systems. Hall D is the cornerstone of the $338 million upgrade to the Continuous Electron Beam Accelerator Facility that is scheduled for completion in 2017. Researchers affiliated with Hall D have been collecting preliminary data for their Gluonic Excitations (GluEx) experiment since early this year.
More than 3,500 visitors ventured down into one of the two sections of the CEBAF accelerator tunnel that were open; and 1,500 visited the CEBAF control room, from which one crew chief and two operators can run the one kilometer around, racetrack-shaped accelerator.
Two of the three original Experimental Halls – A and C – were open and displaying their new and existing equipment. And a bevy of posters, pieces of demonstration equipment and models for the new detector system being installed in Hall B were on display in a large tent.
At each tour stop, scientists, engineers, technical staff and other volunteers were on hand to describe how the highly specialized equipment runs and how it is used to help researchers conduct experiments designed to help them better understand the tiniest bits of matter, and how these particles come together to form our visible universe.
People of all ages were alternately amazed, entertained and informed during the six cryogenics shows, in which more than 1,620 people watched and participated. A series of in-depth lectures about lab research and technologies were well attended, and visitors wound through a series of interactive and hands-on displays about accelerator technology and R&D set up by the Superconducting Radiofrequency Institute.
The federal funding agency for Jefferson Lab – the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science – also participated in the open house, and agency representatives shared information about the wide range of basic and applied research conducted by its 10 national laboratories. The display also featured two fully functional vehicles from DOE’s Oak Ridge National Lab that were created mostly from polymer pellets by a large 3D printer system. The printed utility vehicle – or PUV – was generated along with a 3D printed house (about the size of a mobile home) through a joint Oak Ridge National Lab and industry partners program known as the Additive Manufacturing Integrated Energy (AMIE) demonstration. The project is changing the way researchers and industry is thinking about generating, storing and using electrical power.
In addition to Jefferson Lab, the event featured staffed exhibits and displays from several regional universities’ physics departments and more than a dozen area museums, and science-oriented organizations and agencies.
In a message to Jefferson Lab staff, Director Hugh Montgomery, described the event as “an unmitigated success. All I spoke with were full of praise of the event and of their interactions with our volunteers.”
Jefferson Lab usually holds open house events every other year. The next open house will likely be scheduled to take place in the spring of 2018.
Jefferson Lab is a world-leading nuclear physics research laboratory devoted to the study of the building blocks of matter inside the atom's nucleus – quarks and gluons – that make up 99 percent of the mass of our visible universe. Jefferson Science Associates, LLC, a joint venture of the Southeastern Universities Research Association, Inc. and PAE Applied Technologies, manages and operates the Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility, or Jefferson Lab, for the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Science.
DOE’s Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States, and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, visit science.energy.gov.