A consequential week
Minnesota Congressman James Oberstar and Illinois Congressman Bill Foster (center) break ground for the NOvA experiment building in Minnesota on May 1.
Last week was a multistate journey, highlighted by the groundbreaking for the NOvA building in Minnesota on Friday, made possible by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funding. It is the first ground breaking for a major particle physics project in more than a decade. We hope it is the first of several during the next few years. The ceremony, with eloquent speeches by officials of the University of Minnesota, the Department of Energy, the NOvA experiment and Fermilab, and Minnesota Congressman James Oberstar and Illinois Congressman Bill Foster, was follow by enthusiastic digging with many shovels. It has taken the efforts of many to get to this important milestone. The project will enhance the nation's role in the world of physics and benefit immediately the surrounding communities in Minnesota and Illinois.
The day before the groundbreaking, a group of us including DOE's Associate Director for High Energy Physics, Dennis Kovar, visited Soudan, the former iron mine where the MINOS and CDMS experiments are housed. It is impressive to see the extensive underground facilities, 2,700 feet deep, which have been developed since the early 1980s, starting with those for the Soudan I proton decay experiment. Not only are the caverns large enough to house the 5-kiloton MINOS detector, but the underground laboratory provides the clean rooms necessary to maintain the CDMS detectors clear of any contamination and the cryogenic infrastructure to run detectors at 0.05 degrees Kelvin. The world-leading results of MINOS and CDMS attest to the performance and efficiency of the underground operations carried out by the University of Minnesota and Fermilab at Soudan.
On Wednesday, four of us, Deputy Director Young-Kee Kim, Associate Director for Accelerators Steve Holmes, Chief Operating Officer Bruce Chrisman and myself made an extensive presentation to DOE program managers in Washington, D.C. on Fermilab's plans for the future. It was the first time that the nominee for Undersecretary for Science, Steve Koonin, and the nominee for Director of the Office of Science, Bill Brinkman, heard our plans. The session was lively, with an engaged audience and many questions. I believe we made a clear and compelling case for the future of Fermilab.
Finally, over the weekend I attended the American Physical Society meeting in Denver and participated in two forums and a press conference. Fermilab contributed many results to the meeting across all our programs at the Energy, Intensity and Cosmic frontiers. It was also an important occasion to celebrate our own Keith Ellis who shared the Sakurai Prize of the APS for his many contributions to Quantum Chromodynamics, including applications to problems pivotal to the interpretation of high-energy particle collisions.