Monday, April 02, 2012

SNO LAB tour

In the SNO LAB locker room, we ditched the coveralls. And everything else. Shelves stood in front of the showers so that we could put down our lunch, corrective lenses, and camera gear.

There were about 10 shower stalls. Each was open on opposite sides. You entered one side, showered, and exited the other, cleaner. I quickly scrubbed my scalp and arms and hands. Towels and t-shirts were provided. And nice, new Tyvek suits. We grabbed our unmentionables and socks, jumped into the white plasticised suits, put on hair nets, and slipped into some comfortable rubber-soled, suede-topped shoes. Oh, and retrieved our lunches. Finally, we left the locker room. People's cameras meanwhile had been whisked away to be inspected and cleaned.

No, we did not have a towel fight.

Everyone and everything, rejoined outside the locker rooms, in a lounge with kitchen. There staff gave us a much needed rest and snacks. I had to keep reminding myself that I was 2000 metres below the surface of the Earth! This space, while amorphously shaped, was so bright and clean, it felt like a tidy warehouse basement. There were no windows obviously.

Finally, we were ready to receive the laboratory tour. Sam started with the familiar floor plan diagram, talked about some of the history, and showed where we were going to travel. Lots more walking. She had said earlier about splitting into two groups but that didn't happen. Good and a bad thing. We visited various experiments and areas of the large facility. Many tour members took lots photos and video. Gord's daughter gathered video for your documentary movie after sorting some technical issues. I enjoyed everything immensely. Looking back now, it all went pretty quickly and pretty smoothly.

We had lunch back in the lounge. At that point I realised how tired I was. Many got a kick out of using the deepest toilet on (or rather in) the Earth.

Photo by Katrina.

Then we did tour part 2. We saw a lot of the new large experiments being assembled. And then it was over.

We saw many experiments, working and under construction, including:
  • COUPP: uses bubble chambers to search for dark matter in the form of Weakly Interacting Massive Particles
  • HALO: the Helium and Lead Observatory supernova neutrino detector
  • DEAP: the support structure for the DEAP-3600 and MiniClean experiments in the CubeHall
  • PICASSO: in its new location in "the ladder," detecting dark matter by sound
  • SNO+: the famous 12m diameter acrylic sphere, being refitted, which will use 800 tonnes of liquid scintillator and be monitored by about 10,000 photomultiplier tubes
Sam was watching the clock. Of course, she had to ensure we would make the lift in time.

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