Tuesday, April 19, 2011

SNOLab Visit

(11 April 2011)

It may have been a warm morning for April, but the sight of our SciComm class standing outside in shorts and light shirts at 6 am must have been interesting indeed.  But then again, it is surprisingly warm 2 kilometres underground, especially when our summery clothes are layered under steel-toed boots, coveralls, and hard hats.

Our last field trip of the year was close to home: we visited the Sudbury Neutrino Observatory (SNO) Labs located just outside of Sudbury. The SNO experiment may not be active anymore, but there are still many experiments being conducted in the underground lab.  Led by Science Communication alumna Sam Kuula, our class got to see various experiments, such as PICASSO (Project in Canada to Search for Supersymmetric Objects), HALO (Helium and Lead Observatory) supernova neutrino detector, and DEAP (Dark Matter Experiment using Argon Pulse)– as well as the stacks of 5 kg boxes of water that insulate them against the interference unwanted particles – and learn more about the search to uncover the mysteries of neutrinos and dark matter.

An interesting footnote is the cleanliness of the lab.  Once you leave the mines and enter the laboratories, you are entering a dust-free zone.  We were required to leave our street clothes behind, shower, and wear issued coveralls, boots, and hairnets.  Halfway through our tour there was even an air-shower to rid us of any dust or crumbs (such as cookie crumbs from our snack break) that might have clung to our clothing.  The tunnels have been hand-troweled, painted, and cleaned – even some of the ductwork was fabric for easy-cleaning!

"So that's what a neutrino looks like..."
Single file for a hike through the mine.

Lorraine dons SNO-issued outfit.

Class photo at the boot wash station!
 Photos courtesy of Jalyn Neysmith and Brandon Gray.

No comments:

Post a Comment