Scientists Moving 15-Ton Magnet From NY to Chicago

UPTON, N.Y. (AP) -

New York to Chicago, in five weeks?

Scientists on Long Island are preparing to move a 50-foot-wide electromagnet 3,200 miles over land and sea to its new home at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Illinois. The trip will take more than a month.

“When we first started thinking about this, we all thought it wouldn’t be possible,” said Bill Morse, a physicist at Brookhaven National Lab on eastern Long Island. “But if you have a big problem, you find good people who can fix the problem. That’s physics.”

The electromagnet, which weighs at least 15 tons, was the largest in the world when it was built by scientists at Brookhaven in the 1990s. They no longer have a need for the electromagnet, so it is being moved to the Fermi laboratory, where it will be used in a new experiment called Muon g-2.

The experiment will study the properties of muons, subatomic particles that live only 2.2 millionths of a second. The move is expected to cost about $3 million, but it was estimated that constructing an entirely new electromagnet needed for the Muon g-2 experiment could cost as much as $30 million.

He noted the magnetic ring is constructed of aluminum and steel, with superconducting coils inside. It cannot be taken apart or twisted more than about one-eighth of an inch without irreparably damaging the coils.

Scientists will begin the move next Saturday. The magnet will remain inert until it is plugged in at Fermilab.