The Minnesota mine lab placed in Soudan ended its signature experiment at the end of June. While the research facility is closing, the University of Minnesota moves out of the mine.
The researchers are moving to deeper and newer labs from South Dakota and Canada. Marvin Marshak, the physicist who initiated the lab back in the 1980s, said that they tried for over a decade to convince scientists to use the Soudan mine lab as the place for their projects. However, they had no success.
The old scientific device from Soudan will need to be cut in 27-foot-wide plates that will be big enough to be taken out through the narrow mine shaft. There will be a total of 15,500 pieces to be taken out of the lab, and half of them will have to be moved during the summer.
The mine lab is located in State Park, at the Lake Vermilion-Soudan Underground Mine.
The studies started in 2003 after a scientific device was installed underground to research neutrinos, subatomic particles with very small mass and weak subatomic force. The particles had been theorized in 1930 and discovered only 26 years afterward.
The neutrinos cannot be measured directly. The underground lab protected the particles from cosmic rays. The neutrinos were fired from Illinois to Minnesota and studied as they moved along the path.
The physicists explain that the process involved studying the marks left by neutrinos in their movement, even if the scientists could not detect the particles on their own.
The neutrinos can move through the matter, and therefore they don’t need a tunnel. The researchers monitored the duration of their journey and the changes affecting the particles while traveling.
The detector was part of the Main Injector Neutrino Oscillation Experiment and had to search for the particles that had been sent over by the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory from Chicago.
After the Minnesota mine lab is disabled, the neutrinos beam will be pointed to the Ash River Laboratory. Another beam will be sent to South Dakota at the Homestake Gold Mine.
Another project that took place in the Minnesota lab was the Cryogenic Dark Matter Search, which aims at detecting dark matter particles in weakly interacting massive particles, which are the closest candidates for the mysterious elements. The project now moved to a lab in Sudbury, Ontario.
The summer tours of the mine will continue to take place, even if the lab visits will be discontinued because of the dismantling of the detector. Last year, the mine received 30,500 tourists, while the lab had only 4,000 visitors.
Image Source: YouTube
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