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Physics and Astronomy

Dan Palken Uses Grua/O'Connell Award to Visit Underground Research Facility in Minnesota

Story posted February 18, 2014

I made it back from my trip to Minnesota. It was hectic, but well worth it! I spent eight hours (pretty much all of my Wednesday) in the mine, following Scott F. (a grad studnet at UMinn) around. It was a slow day, so a lot of what he was doing was computer work, but we did suit up in clean suits and go in to look at the detector itself (or rather, the layers upon layers of shielding surrounding it), which was very cool.

The mine itself was impressive. From the inside, it could have simply been any physics laboratory, the only oddities being the complete lack of natural light and the stone walls where there is open wall space. The people who work there (about 8-10 per day, typically) were also very helpful and accommodating. it was nice just to observe physics being done in that setting. I don't think I'd want to spend my whole career in one, but I could certainly see making week-long forays into such a mine to do experimental work (which is what Scott does currently) during or after graduate school. Definitely a good data point to have, and also a fun and enlightening trip. Certainly nice to see in person that my project has implications beyond my own computer!