Scenery and Science in a Physics Wonderland
Master Substation, Power Poles and Geodesic Dome
Turn right onto Discovery Road.
On the left you’ll see Fermilab’s Master Substation, which provides power for Fermilab and our energetic experiments. Recent upgrades revitalized the 45-year-old substation.
Have a look at the white power poles on your left. Robert Wilson didn’t like the look of traditional power poles and, after some fighting with the power company, got his design for the power poles approved. Some think they resemble the Greek letter pi.
We’re traveling along the longest beamline in the fixed target area, which heads toward the neutrino area. This is where scientists used a 15-ft bubble chamber to study neutrinos, which created images with beautiful spiral tracks. Neutrinos are now the subject of many Fermilab experiments that use different detection methods. The suite has some fancifully named projects, including NOvA, MINERvA, MicroBooNE, ICARUS, and DUNE. Until 1988, the bubble chamber was housed in the geodesic dome at the end of the road on the right. The area now houses labs and office space. It’s also where scientists assembled components for the South Pole Telescope now installed in Antarctica and the 570-megapixel camera that was built for the Dark Energy Survey. That camera now sits at an observatory in Chile and images the southern sky to better understand a phenomenon called dark energy, a mysterious force that is accelerating the expansion of our universe.