Muon g-2 Begins Collecting Data

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A 60-ton ring of steel and aluminum houses the Muon g-2 experiment, which has run its first test after a 3,200 mile journey to reach Fermilab and four years of planning.

“The commissioning run went extremely well, really phenomenally well compared to any other experiment I’ve been on in the past,” said Project Manager for the Muon g-2, Chris Polly. “This one is so complicated and so many systems had to come online at the same time and work together, it was really a great success for the scientific collaboration I would say.”

The experiment is named for the particle being observed – a muon.

“The muon is one of the fundamental particles in the universe,” explained Polly. “The best way to think about a muon is to think of it as being essentially an electron, a heavy electron. Like electrons, muons have the same charge, as far as we can tell they’re not made of anything. The main difference between a muon and an electron however is it’s much more massive. It’s 200 times heavier than the electron.”

That increased mass makes the muon more sensitive to experiments, which is a good thing for these researchers. For five weeks this summer, the Muon g-2 experiment ran around the clock, sending muons into the storage ring and collecting data.

“What we were able to do for the first time is actually generate the beam of subatomic particles that we need for the experiment. We were able to deliver them from where they’re produced about a half kilometer away all the way into this building and then actually observe for the first time in this experiment the muons circulating around the storage ring,” said Polly.

This trial run was just the beginning. Scientists will use the collected data to see what equipment and processes need fine tuning before running the experiment again in October.

“The goal of the experiment is to really study if there are new particles, new interactions, or new forces that we haven’t yet discovered in the standard model of particle physics today,” added Polly.

To collect a large enough data set, researchers plan to run the experiment for several years, looking at the muon’s frequency to determine if there are undiscovered particles in our universe.

Around 150 scientists from around the world worked on this experiment through out its development.

Naperville News 17’s Evan Summers reports.