ESD Atom Smasher Tour Coming Up Jan. 15 At MSU

SOUTHFIELD — A look at one of the nation’s busiest working atom smashers and a peek at the construction of its next generation successor are on tap for the next exclusive Engineering Society of Detroit members-only tour Jan. 15 in East Lansing.

ESD members will get a look deep inside Michigan State University’s National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory, as well as get the latest on the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams, currently under construction next door.

The NSCL and FRIB are located at 640 S. Shaw Lane on the MSU campus.

The tour will begin with an extensive slideshow introduction with demonstrations in the NSCL seminar room. Then, attendees will be broken up into groups of no more than 12 people, and graduate student tour guides will lead groups of visitors on a 45-minute walking tour.

Note that the NSCL is a working laboratory. On the day of the tour, some areas may be inaccessible. Most tours visit a number of detectors, the reaccelerator, the clean room, the machine shop, or the control room.

Atom smashers — more formally, particle accelerators — are among the highest forms of high-tech. They use magnets and high voltage to accelerate atoms close to the speed of light, and force them into collisions with a variety of materials and other particles. The resulting debris can produce clues to conditions of the early universe, shortly after the Big Bang. Accelerators also produce rare isotopes that are extremely valuable in medical imaging and other experimentation.

Scheduled for completion in 2022, the FRIB will be a new national user facility for nuclear science. The $730 million project is being funded by the Department of Energy’s Office of Science, MSU and the state of Michigan. To be operated by MSU — home of the nation’s No. 1-ranked graduate program in nuclear physics — the FRIB will provide intense beams of rare isotopes (that is, short-lived nuclei not normally found on Earth). FRIB will enable scientists to
make discoveries about the properties of these rare isotopes in order to better understand the structure of nuclei, nuclear astrophysics, fundamental interactions, and applications for society.

The tour of the NSCL and FRIB begins at 2 p.m. with registration and networking. The tour itself will be conducted from 2:30 to 4 p.m. Due to national regulations, there are restrictions on the tour for minors, as well as citizens of Cuba, Iran, North Korea and Syria; contact ESD for details.

The cost of the tour is $20 for ESD members. Or join ESD for $60 — a 40 percent discount — and take the tour for free. (This offer is good for new, first-time members only.)

Sign up at this link, or call (248) 353-0735, ext. 222, to sign up by phone.

A map to the laboratory, parking instructions, suggestions for visitors, and what to expect on the tour may be found at There is a parking ramp directly across Shaw Lane with meters – bring quarters!

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