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updated: 9/18/2017 1:54 PM

Registration full for Fermilab open house

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  • Scientist Jerry Zimmerman, also known as "Mr. Freeze," is engulfed in an explosion of soapy water and liquid nitrogen on stage during a previous open house at Fermilab in Batavia.

      Scientist Jerry Zimmerman, also known as "Mr. Freeze," is engulfed in an explosion of soapy water and liquid nitrogen on stage during a previous open house at Fermilab in Batavia.
    John Starks | Staff Photographer

  • Aidan and Grant Preves, 8-year-old twins from Crystal Lake, do a surface tension experiment with beakers of water at a Fermilab open house in Batavia. Although registration is full for the Sept. 23 open house, the lab is open for self-guided tours every day of the week, and public drop-in tours are offered at 10 a.m. Wednesdays.

      Aidan and Grant Preves, 8-year-old twins from Crystal Lake, do a surface tension experiment with beakers of water at a Fermilab open house in Batavia. Although registration is full for the Sept. 23 open house, the lab is open for self-guided tours every day of the week, and public drop-in tours are offered at 10 a.m. Wednesdays.
    John Starks | Staff Photographer

 
 

The high-energy physics work at Fermilab in Batavia might be a mystery to most of us, but there is certainly no lack of interest in this particle accelerator lab.

Fermilab is hosting what it is calling its biggest open house in decades Saturday, an event in which it was encouraging everyone to celebrate the lab's 50 years of science.

But registration for the event, featuring tours, demos and hands-on activities for families, is already closed. There's that high level of interest in action.

So not everyone will be able to stop in Saturday to get a look at Fermilab's particle accelerators and get explanations about the experiments, including what the lab calls its "giant Muon g-2 magnet."

If you are scratching your head on that one, let's simplify it a bit. It's basically a spinning magnet that monitors virtual particles. Or, put another way, it helps researchers determine if subatomic particles that we don't even know about actually exist.

For years, I would get caught up in thinking that Fermilab existed only for the Professor Frink types of the world who would speak a language such as "measuring the anomalous magnetic dipole moment of the muon," of which the rest of us remain simply clueless.

But, over time, as much as anything, I began to realize that it's as much about the tools used in high-energy physics, or even in the space race of the 1960s, that result in things all of us know and care about.

If anyone ever asks you what goes on at Fermilab, a simple answer might be "the critically important unknown."

And what might that be? We can start with that little thing we call the internet, as we're all using a souped-up version of what these physicists and researchers were using years ago to compare notes.

And then there's cancer research. In the simplest terms, the beams and molecules these guys are moving around have already come into play in modern health, and it's likely there will be more practical future uses.

The folks at the lab say not to worry about the closed registration for the open house Saturday. If you missed out on that, the lab is open for self-guided tours every day of the week, and public drop-in tours are offered at 10 a.m. Wednesdays.

Those other harmonies:

In proclaiming my favorite groups from the 1960s or early '70s that stood out because of great harmonies, readers were quick to point out a few I did not mention.

In more than one instance, the Mamas and Papas came up. I would have to agree, while admitting that "California Dreaming" was played enough on my turntable to wear down the grooves.

Another mentioned a few times was The Fifth Dimension. I have to admit this particular group probably didn't catch my attention as much as it should have, but it seems certain that many young people of that era could relate to a song titled "Stoned Soul Picnic."

Other bands or singers that came up included New Colony Six, the Buckinghams, the Hollies, Simon and Garfunkel, and The Byrds.

That corn patch:

We know this entire Tri-Cities area, and most of the Fox Valley, really, was just farmland for decades and, probably, right up to the 1950s. And we've seen it gobbled up in big chunks while still having a fairly significant rural setting not too far to the west.

Still, it is odd when you spot small corn patches in the most unlikely of places. One was along Bricher Road near Walgreens for years, while retail and residential went up around it.

But one remains right behind the Harley-Davidson business on Randall Road, setting just north of the rear side of Costco.

Who owns this small patch and how they would get equipment in to harvest it is anyone's guess.

A way to record:

On occasion, I have to reveal I am getting fairly long in the tooth. Here's an example: I still record TV shows on VHS tapes. Well, at least I did until a couple of weeks ago.

The machine finally died and it created a dilemma, mostly because we have never had cable TV or a dish and use only a digital TV antenna, a DVD/VHS combo unit and an Apple TV box.

It has been more than satisfactory for our television viewing and streaming, but recording shows remained a fairly archaic practice.

Watching past shows through various apps on Apple TV cut down on some recording needs, but it's still always nice to have that option.

As he has done in the past on my other audiovisual projects, my "TV Whisperer," Gene Olmstead of Olmstead's TV in Batavia, came to the rescue by informing me of the option to hook up a separate TV antenna DVR.

I have now entered the world of pausing live TV and recording shows with one click off a video guide. Yes, I know that world has existed for years, but not for some of us still using an antenna in the attic.

dheun@sbcglobal.net

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