Understanding Illinois: Fermilab Looking Into the Smallest Things

NowlanAugust 27, 2014

by Jim Nowlan
Outside Columnist

As I scribble a note for this column, I am standing 350 feet underground at a research experiment that is sending beams of trillions of neutrinos underground to a detector located 500 miles away in Minnesota.

I am at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab) in west suburban Chicago, where Big Science—and big achievements—are the hallmark of the sprawling lab.

Illinois has two national laboratories out of 17 in the country that are operated by the U.S. Department of Energy—Argonne in southwestern suburban Lemont is the other.

Together the labs expend more than a billion dollars a year and employ 5,000 people, about half of whom are scientists and engineers.

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