Reflection and a few changes for Fermilab’s 50th birthday

This board game was recently spotted near the Fermilab Booster for some reason. It disappeared moments after this photo was taken, but the photographic evidence remains. Photo: Jessamyn West

There’s a mood of reflection at Fermilab in the midst of 50th anniversary festivities.

“We’re really thrilled to be turning 50,” Director Nigel Lockyer said. “One minute, you’re building the Main Ring here at home, and the next thing you know you’re trying to send neutrinos to South Dakota. It all goes by so fast, and you think to yourself, ‘How did I end up here? Where did the time go?’”

New paint and plaster are giving a facelift to buildings around the site on the eve of the lab’s birthday, but there are other, more dramatic changes afoot as well. At the center of the Tevatron, where a gazebo once stood, construction crews are rapidly erecting a new nightclub called Collide.

“We’re looking forward to bringing together and hanging out with early career scientists and making the lab more appealing to young researchers” said John Kent, who has agreed to serve as building manager for the new structure. “We want the people who will lead our future experiments to know we’re hip, we’re cool, and we’re with it.”

The fact that this Ducati now lives on the Fermilab site means nothing. Photo: l a b e t e

Kent said the idea for Collide was suggested anonymously through a suggestion box on the 15th floor. And that’s not the only mystery floating around. Last week, a gym membership and a bright red motorcycle (a Ducati Streetfighter S) arrived addressed only to “The Linac.” Television screens at the Users Center and various Village buildings have been looping photos from the bottom and top quark discoveries interspersed with text that reads, “We were so young.”

“Reports that the lab is experiencing a midlife crisis are unfounded,” said Katie Yurkewicz, the lab’s head of communication. “Even if that were the case, they say science begins at 50, don’t they? That’s definitely a thing.”

Indeed, much of the lab is far younger than 50 years old, with new buildings such as SBN, Muon g-2, CMTF and Mu2e (which only recently received beneficial occupancy) dotting the site.

“Is this where we thought we’d be at this point in our lives? Not necessarily,” said CRO Joe Lykken, channeling the spirit of the lab. “But we’ve come a long way and made a lot of discoveries. Sure, we made some mistakes, and had a few changes along the path, but that’s totally normal. Do we ever stay up at night thinking about what it would have been like if we’d gone into applied research? No. No. We wouldn’t be happy there.”