CDF

The top quark is the heaviest known elementary particle, as small as an electron but 340,000 times more massive! We don’t know how small those particles are, only that they are smaller than 1/1000th the size of a proton which itself is 1/100,000th the size of the smallest atom, hydrogen. Millionths, billionths, … soon we’re talking small numbers!

Twenty-five years ago, scientists on the CDF and DZero particle physics experiments at Fermilab announced one of history’s biggest breakthroughs in particle physics: the discovery of the long-sought top quark. The collaborations on the two experiments jointly made the announcement on March 2, 1995, to much fanfare. We take a look back on this day in Fermilab history a quarter-century ago.

Physicists often find thrifty, ingenious ways to reuse equipment and resources. What do you do about an 800-ton magnet originally used to discover new particles? Send it off on a months-long journey via truck, train and ship halfway across the world to detect oscillating particles called neutrinos, of course. It’s all part of the vast recycling network of the physics community.