Fermilab Today Tuesday, June 15, 2010

LBNE collaborators discuss project details in Deadwood

Diagram of the Long Baseline Neutrino Experiment.

During the last week of May, residents of the small mining town of Deadwood in the Black Hills of South Dakota found themselves surrounded by scientists from the Long-Baseline Neutrino Experiment (LBNE).

The scientists converged on the tiny 1,400-resident town of Deadwood for their collaboration meeting, which focused on beginning the process of choosing a configuration for the project.

Although Deadwood is famous for its gold rush in the late 1800s, LBNE scientists aren’t there looking for gold – they’re hunting for elusive neutrinos. The proposed LBNE experiment would use protons from Fermilab’s Main Injector to create a neutrino beam that would travel through the Earth to large neutrino detectors in the NSF’s proposed Deep Underground Science and Engineering Laboratory (DUSEL) in the nearby Homestake Mine.

LBNE received DOE’s CD-0 approval in early January, establishing the project’s mission need, and is now preparing for CD-1 review in December when the project will present its Conceptual Design Report (CDR). Depending on funding, construction could start in 2015 and start of operations in 2020.

“Over the next couple months, the collaboration will focus on putting together a science report to evaluate the scientific sensitivities and costs for all potential variants of the experiment – what type of beam and detectors to use and how deep underground the detectors should be,” said LBNE co-spokesperson Robert Svoboda.

To produce the report, the collaboration established a physics working group for each major area of study. The collaboration’s science report will provide input for the project’s CDR.

The LBNE collaboration at their meeting in South Dakota.

“We need to understand the various trade-offs in order to make an informed decision about which technology would produce the highest quality science within the project’s budget,” said Project Manager Jim Strait. “I think we made great progress at the collaboration meeting in beginning this process.”

About 150 of the nearly 250 collaboration members from 54 institutions attended the meeting. Holding the meeting in Deadwood both allowed LBNE members to meet with DUSEL representatives and to interact with the community while visiting local restaurants and businesses.

“There’s always some initial concern when an institution of this size comes into a community, so it’s important to show we have the same passions and desires that they do and that we are grateful for the opportunity to build our experiment there,” said LBNE co-spokesperson Milind Diwan. “We want them to see that we’re not just white-coat-wearing scientists with crazy hair – well, most of us anyway.”

-- Amelia Williamson Smith

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