Friday, March 18, 2011

High-Energy Physics Experiments in Japan Weather the Crises

During an earthquake, tsunami, or nuclear meltdown, the safest place to be is in a mine. So says Stuart Freedman, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory's spokesperson for the KamLAND neutrino experiment, whose 1879 glass photomultiplier tubes emerged from the earthquake unscathed. Both KamLAND and the Super-Kamiokande experiment, which contains 11,146 glass bulbs each 20 inches in diameter, are ensconced 3300 ft underground in the Mozumi mine. This is to protect both American-Japanese collaboration experiments from solar radiation that would obscure their data. Although the KamLAND detector uses Japanese nuclear reactors as its neutrino source, Freedman says that the loss of the Fukushima reactor and ensuing radiation will affect the experiments little. More>