Massive electromagnet sets off for Fermilab on Saturday

Brookhaven National Laboratory has set up the Muon g-2 ring on a truck, preparing it for this weekend’s big move. Photo: Brookhaven National Laboratory

The forecast for this weekend in Long Island predicts sunny and warm conditions, with highs around 80 degrees. As it turns out, that’s perfect weather for moving a 50-foot-wide electromagnet wrapped in plastic.

After torrential rains delayed its original start date last week, the Muon g-2 collaboration is set to begin moving the giant electromagnet from New York to Illinois on Saturday. The device, built at Brookhaven National Laboratory, is the centerpiece of Fermilab’s Muon g-2 experiment—or, it will be, once it completes its 3,200-mile land-and-sea journey to the Chicago suburbs.

That journey begins with a trek across the Brookhaven site to the main gate on Saturday morning and continues down the William Floyd Parkway to the Smith Point Marina on Sunday night and Monday morning, a trip that should take about six hours. The truck will move between 5 and 10 miles per hour, and crews will walk alongside it, ensuring that obstacles are removed.

Once at the marina, the ring will be loaded onto a barge and begin its journey to Illinois. You can get a “ringside” seat for that trip on the Muon g-2 website, where you’ll find a GPS-powered map and regular updates from the move.

After four to six weeks of travel, the barge will port in Lemont, Ill., and the ring will then be loaded onto a truck and driven to Fermilab over three consecutive nights. Once here, it will be used to store and study muons, following up on a similar experiment conducted at Brookhaven in the 1990s. The goal is to discover whether the magnetic wobble of the muon agrees with the standard model prediction. If not, there could be new vistas of physics awaiting discovery.

Andre Salles