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     The Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory is one of the world's premier research facilities. Since it's opening, in 1972, it has had the most powerful accelerator in the world. The Tevatron, it's hallmark accelerator, is capable of energies of a trillion electron volts. Within the next year, CERN in Europe should be bringing on an accelerator with seven times the power. Fermilab plans on shutting down it's Tevatron accelerator, in about three years. With a much larger machine available at CERN, there will be little reason to leave it up. Fermi will then concentrate on it's work with antimatter.
     Fermilab is known for many things, other than having the world's most powerful accelerator. It has one of the largest sections of restored prairie in this part of the country, as well as a herd of buffalo. People come here to watch birds, have picnics, or hike the many trails here, and in the nearby preserves. There are also concerts, public lectures, social events, and a film series.
     The reason for this has to do with the foresight, and idealism, of the facilities first director. Robert Wilson was one of a number of scientists who were dismayed over the direction that much of science, particularly high energy physics, was taking. Previous to the Second World War, the scientific community had been just that --- a community. Scientists had collaborated openly, freely, and enthusiastically.
     A reading of the names of many of the pioneers of nuclear physics: Cockroft, Einstein, Fermi, Curie, Czillard, Planck, Hiesenberg, gives a pretty good indication that it had been a truly international community. This would end at the outset of the war, and would be greatly impaired by the realities of the Cold War. While there had always been an element of secrecy to the designs, engineering, and crafting of certain types of weaponry, it was now to be certain segments of science itself, which were to be held in secret. Gone were the days of open collaboration, and international cooperation.
     Wilson had hoped to get a bit of that old spirit back, and to foster ties with the public at large. He wished for Fermilab to be dedicated to a free and open exchange of ideas. No secret work is done here, no war work, nothing that is patented, and nothing with any real commercial value. It is not a likely terrorist target, though who can predict the imbalanced workings of the terrorist mind. So there is security here; but it is not overbearing. Visitors do not need a gate pass, and people often enter the grounds for recreation, to tour the facilities, or even to fish.
     The grounds have a number of roads twisting though wooded groves, and restored prairie. One of the stories about how these roads got be the scenic drives that they are today is indicative of the type of spirit which Wilson was attempting to instill into this place. In his original concept drawing of the grounds, the roads twisted, turned, and curved their way around the grounds, passing through woods, prairie, and ponds. When the final drawings were done, by the civil engineers, the roads were laid out in efficient straight lines. Wilson scratched out the straight lines laid out by the engineers, and replaced them with another set of curved, and twisting paths for the new roads to follow. The engineer in charge protested that this was inefficient, and would require more time, material, and money to complete. It would also require a longer drive, from point to point, than a straight road. Wilson indicated that this was not important to him, and that he wanted the place to be special, even down to the roads, which he suggested should be more than just a way to get from one place to another.
     The grounds also contain a buffalo farm, with a herd of buffalo, housed safely behind electrified fences. Visitors are free to look, and photograph the buffalo, which tend to congregate, unsurprisingly, near the feeding station. They are large impressive animals, and are not often seen east of the Mississippi, though they were once common as far east as New York. This is another one of Wilson's attempts to make of this place, something special.
     The most visible structure, at least from a distance, is Wilson Hall. This is the administrative building, is adjacent to the auditorium, and holds the visitor center. It is also where lectures are given, and tour groups meet. In contrast to the administration buildings of most government institutions, Wilson Hall was built last. The largest structures are the accelerators. The big accelerator is a four mile ring, built underground, with a cooling pond tracing it's outline on the surface.
     The opening of the more powerful accelerator, at CERN, will not mean the end for research here. There is a considerable scientific community here, as well as the substantial support of the University of Chicago. Much of the work at CERN will be directed, and even controlled, from here at Fermilab. A control room has been built, to duplicate that at CERN, unifying the facilities.
education center

I hope to get some better pictures of the facility, sometime within the next year. Once a year, Fermi has an open house, in which the tunnels and many other normally closed sections are open to the public. This includes some section of the underground tunnels, which house the magnets and the beam tube itself. I also plan on a visit to the Feynmen Science Center. 
Some views of Wilson Hall. The hall was the last building raised, and serves mainly as an administration building. It is an impressive structure, and is said to have been modeled, at least in spirit, upon the cathedrals of the Middle Ages.
A view of the inside of Wilson Hall, showing the soaring open spaces.  
My tour group meets it's guide, near the cafeteria on the fist floor.  
A reception awaited us, on the fifteenth floor, which is the observation level.  
A model/map of the area is set up, right next to a bank of windows. It is a helpful aid to orient the visitor to the site.  
Observation windows also look inward; I suppose that physicists must be very introspective people. This window looks down the central light shaft of the building. Towards the bottom can be seen the mezzanine, which holds the art gallery.
There are researchers, in this case a trio of professors, available to answer questions, and get in to discussions. It is pretty interesting to be able to talk to these people.

What do physicist do to relax? Well, they talk about physics,.
Looking around some of the displays on the observation level. 

A look down, across the pool and plaza in front of Wilson Hall, and down the main road of the lab. The blue roofed building to the left is the meson lab. The white structures, towards the center of the photo, are power lines. This place uses a lot of power.
Above, Left, and Below:
So where is the accelerator? In which building is it housed? Well, this photo shows it, or at least shows a part of it. The accelerator itself is underground, in a a ring which measures four miles around. A series of building surround the ring. Some work as pumping stations, for the cooling water, others house power units, or permit access to the magnets. Over the top of the rings is a circular pool of water, looking a bit like a round river. This water is used to keep the accelerator cool.
A photo of the booster, sitting in it's own cooling pond. The buildings visible just behind it are the anti-proton source. 
  A mock up, of one of the accelerator tunnels, showing the magnets which drive, and steer the particle beam. 
  A radiofrequency Quadrupole Linac. This little mini accelerator is used in hospitals to provide particles for cancer treatment.
  This is the RF copper cavity, where the particles are actually accelerated. it uses RF energy at a frequency of 805 MHZ to do the actual accelerations.  These can accelerate a particle to .75 light speed.

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