Fermilab just got a new Awesome Magnet, a 50'-wide jobbie that can't be tilted by more than a few degrees without suffering irreparable harm. It's in New York, though, and Fermilab is outside of Chicago, and this presents a logistical problem with a complicated solution:
The Muon g-2 ring, an electromagnet made of steel and aluminum, begins its 3,200-mile trek from New York in early June. From there, it will sail by barge down the East Coast, around Florida's tip into the Gulf of Mexico, then up the Mississippi River until it arrives in Illinois.
Once on land, the electromagnet will be driven at night in a specially designed truck at no more than 10 mph until it reaches Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory.
The high-tech transport is all in service of a plan to use Fermilab's powerful beam to send muons, a rare kind of particle that lasts just 2.2 millionths of a second, into the circular electromagnet, according to experiment spokesman Lee Roberts, who works at Fermilab. Once in the ring, muons "wobble," or tilt like a top.
Huge magnet set for delicate voyage to Fermilab [Alexa Aguilar/Chicago Tribune]