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Fermilab | Batavia, IL | USA

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Hoping to fly in new physics with muon g-2

A talk about how a helicopter can advance high-energy physics was part of my initiation to my first collaboration meeting for the new muon g- minus 2 experiment at Fermilab.

A similar helicopter will carry the ring, just as the tank is carried here, from Brookhaven National Laboratory a portion of the way to Fermilab.

The meeting was a very exciting (and exhausting!) experience.

And let’s be honest any collaboration meeting with a talk devoted to helicopters is awesome. From the way we talk about this thing, it’s going to be our mascot. We need a helicopter because we are going to use the muon storage ring from the previous muon g-2 measurement at Brookhaven National Laboratory, which took a similar measurement to what we will look for. The helicopter will take the ring from Brookhaven, drop it on a barge that sends it to Illinois and then a helicopter will take it to Fermilab. I think it’s going to be very cool to see that happen.

This was our first meeting after receiving Stage 1 approval from Fermilab, meaning Lab management thinks this experiment it worth doing, although, there is no funding attached to it yet. The meeting took place in March over a Friday and Saturday and we needed every second of that time. There was much to discuss and it was all interesting, especially to me, as a newbie.

What is the muon g-2 experiment? Okay, some jargon, just to sound cool. The g-2 experiment’s goal is to measure the difference between the gryomagnetic ratio (spin/angular momentum) and the Bohr magneton.

Fermilab’s planned muon g-2 experiment will use the storage ring that was used in a previous muon g-2 experiment at Brookhaven National Laboratory.

And what does that mean? It’s basically measuring intrinsic properties (such as spin and angular momentum) of a particle. Experimentally, we are measuring the precession of the muon due to a magnetic field. You can imagine a top, just as it’s about to topple over. That motion is called precession. We measure the frequency of that (how many times the muon goes around before decaying, or in the case of the top, toppling over). Theorists can calculate the frequency of this very, very precisely and experimentalists can measure it very, very precisely.  Because of this level of preciseness, we are sensitive to physics beyond the Standard Model. The Standard Model is incorporates what we know now about particles and interactions, but does have some holes. The results from the new muon g minus 2 experiment will help us plug those holes by pointing to which theories beyond the Standard Model are most likely.

So that’s a brief summary about the physics for the muon g-2 experiment.

The muon g-2 collaboration at Fermilab during a March meeting.

On a more personal level, I’m involved with research and development for the tracking detector, which is used to find out where the decay positrons go, among other measurements. Our current plan is to use straws. They look pretty much like you would expect from the name. They are tubes made of a lightweight material that is usually coated with some sort of metal and a super thin wire runs through the center, and they are filled with a gas. When a charged particle passes through them, the gas ionizes and we collect the resulting signal. We aren’t sure what type of materials we are going to use for the straws, which is part of the fun. We are trying to figure out the best detector we can build on a reasonable budget.

–Mandy Rominsky


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