It was a fun and terrific time for our Argonne Open House. Although I didn't get to see any of the other exhibits around the lab (since I was stuck with our exhibits), I've been told that it was a tremendous showing by all the various divisions here. The Advanced Photon Source were just innundated with visitors none stop from the get go. And the Intense Pulsed Neutron Source facility had to start their open house tour 15 minutes BEFORE the official opening because there were people already waiting in line! At the end of the day, it was estimated that more than 18,000 visitors showed up for Argonne's first Open House in 6 years!
Our Division's effort for the Open House was a major success, even though we were in a very remote location of the lab (some people had to take 2 different shuttle busses to get to us). We had to have it at that location because the Wakefield Accelerator is housed in that building, and the "radar" detection system is right next to it. Still, it was the largest attendence ever that we had in this particular location. I was very satisfied with the whole event, and many of our visitors were very impressed that they got to see (i) live data coming in from the radar that can detect everything from airplanes, meteors, to high energy cosmic showers in the atmosphere (ii) a real, working, research accelerator just barely 4 feet away from them.
Since I was working non-stop during the Open House, I didn't get to take as many pictures as I wanted, but I did get some early on before we opened, and before it became crowded.
This is part of the MINOS display on their neutrino experiment. MINOS is the study of neutrino oscillation using neutrinos created at Fermilab. They are then detected at two locations - the near detector that is a few meters away within Fermilab grounds, and the far detector in an underground mine in Soudan, Minnesota. The neutrinos essentially travelled through the earth to get to the Soudan mine.
We also had a large cloud chamber that people can either look directly, or watch a video projection of it on a huge screen. This was actually quite a hit, because many who showed up had never seen a cloud chamber. So it was a revelation to many when they finally realize that they are being bombared by all kinds of radiation from cosmic and terrestrial origins.
We had a major exhibit from Fermilab regarding the proposed International Linear Collider (ILC). They are pushing (and so are we) very hard to have this project started AND built at Fermilab. So the exhibits from them here introduces the public to the ILC, including the technology of superconducting accelerating structure that has been chosen for the ILC. Shown here in this picture is one such structure, made of niobium.
This, of course, is my baby. The Argonne Wakefield Accelerator is an a research accelerator studying advanced acceleration mechanism. The visitors on that day got briefed on what we do, and the physics involved in achieving our goals. They are then given safety glasses and then escorted into our "bunker" that housed our accelerator beamline.
One of the idea that I came up for our Open House is to have a table where anyone can some up and ask a high energy physicists a physics question. In fact, anyone who ask a question got a free gift for the whole group that came with him/her. I managed to persuade a couple of our high energy theorists to staff it! :) I was told that the table was a hit. I even asked a few kids if they have asked the physicsts a question and if they want something to ask (why don't you ask "What if we don't find the Higgs?"). Both of the theorists got wind as the day progressed that I was giving people questions for them to ask! :)
Some of the attendees asking one of our staff members a number of questions.
One of the biggest hit and the most unique thing that we had was FREE POPCORN!
Some of the visitors getting onto the hydrogen-powered shuttle bus that took them back to the less-remote areas of Argonne.
All in all, I was glad I volunteered to do it. I was a lot of work, and I had a few nighmares leading up to it, but in the end, it turned out very well. As a bonus, yours truly picture appeared on one of the local suburban newspaper the following Monday in the report about the Argonne Open House. The public affairs people here graciously sent me the link, and a hard copy of the newspaper. :)