All is one

Sergei Nagaitsev

Sergei Nagaitsev, head of the Accelerator Division, wrote this column.

“All is number,” Pythagoras declared, making himself likely the first person to say that the physical world could be described by the language of mathematics. We certainly have many numbers that describe our world at Fermilab: budgets, hours of operation, beam power, protons on target. The numbers describe nearly everything, but not quite.

This week we are finishing up the six-week accelerator complex shutdown, on schedule. The shutdown is an example of a remarkable coming-together of the entire laboratory. All divisions, sections, centers and offices pitched in: scientists, engineers, technicians, welders, drivers, machinists, procurement specialists, alignment specialists, electricians, riggers … the list could go on and on. On behalf of the entire Accelerator Division I would like to say “Thank you, Fermilab!” for helping us accomplish our plan, which can be described by numbers, of course:

  • 253 jobs were approved for the shutdown.
  • Two individuals from ESH&Q worked on accelerator upgrades, as did four from the Technical Division, nine from the Particle Physics Division, dozens from FESS, and of course all of the hundreds of personnel in the Accelerator Division.
  • About 10 miles of cable were pulled in the course of upgrading the complex.
  • Nearly 1,000 feet of beamlines were modified.
  • At least five major power outages were required to upgrade and maintain the electrical grid that feeds power to the accelerator complex. More than 20 days of substation maintenance and 10 one-day outages were performed for the maintenance of transformers and switches.

The shutdown work has touched every Fermilab accelerator and beamline. For example, we installed a new beam-pulse-forming lens and upgraded the vacuum systems in the Linac. We replaced one radio-frequency cavity and two large transformers in the Booster. We installed a radio-frequency cavity in the Recycler for NOvA and retrofitted the Recycler’s vacuum systems. And we performed many upgrades and maintenance activities in the NuMI target hall, as well as in the Booster neutrino beamline.

Our work is far from over. As we start up operations once more, we must check all the machines and their instrumentation to make sure they work as expected. We must also test our power substations to ensure that we can properly control the delivery of electrical power to the accelerator complex from a single substation next year. And we will conduct the usual debrief to collect the list of unfinished business items from the shutdown, which, along with goals motivated by the lab’s cutting-edge neutrino and muon programs, we plan to address in the accelerator shutdown of summer 2015.

So, Pythagoras was correct: “All is number,” and this number is one, as in One Lab.