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By Justin Eure | November 15, 2012

Physics and Photography: Lab Visitors Capture the Beauty of Science

The winning photos from Brookhaven Lab’s first-ever Photowalk showcase top research facilities in new ways

On Saturday, Sept. 22, Brookhaven National Lab invited 50 amateur and professional photographers to a three-hour, behind-the-scenes tour of the laboratory. The cutting-edge experiments explore the fringes of fundamental science and represent singular achievements in design and engineering. The photographers lent their considerable talent to capturing these marvels, and the results exceeded all expectations, showcasing these top facilities as never before.

After receiving more than 100 stunning submissions that revealed these facilities in new ways, a group of Lab volunteers, including scientists and support staff, selected the top 10 images seen above. The first five of these will advance to the worldwide Physics Photowalk competition, run by the particle physics collaboration Interactions.org, where they will go head-to-head against photographs from 10 of the top science facilities all over the world.
 
Congratulations to the overall winner, Enrique Diaz, whose unique shot of the STAR detector captured the attention of the judges and fascinated the scientists who work with that instrument.
 
“I am shocked, yet honored to have been selected,” Diaz said. “It was truly an honor to have met all the scientists, staff, and great people that run Brookhaven Lab. It's extremely important for all of us to support your research, and I believe an event like this will help that cause.”
 
Participants visited five Lab facilities usually inaccessible to the public, each one dedicated to different methods of probing puzzling physics. Photographers visited three major components of the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC), which recreates the exotic matter that existed at the dawn of time: the RHIC tunnel, the STAR detector, and the PHENIX detector. They also toured the National Synchrotron Light Source (NSLS), one of the world’s most versatile and widely used scientific research facilities, which analyzes materials with atomic-scale precision. The final stop on the Photowalk tour was the under-construction National Synchrotron Light Source II (NSLS-II), scheduled to begin operations in 2015 as one of the world’s brightest discovery tools.
 
Photographers from throughout New York State participated in the Photowalk, with a strong showing from local Long Island photo clubs. Scientists and other Lab employees escorted these enthusiastic participants around site, answering questions about the cutting-edge science and the array of one-of-a-kind instruments at each facility.

Brookhaven Lab was one of two U.S. Department of Energy laboratories to participate in this year’s Photowalk. The other, Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Illinois, has also chosen top photos for the international competition. Voting for the global competition is planned for December, and those winners will be announced in early 2013.

The event was an unqualified success, with enthusiastic participants, an extremely high caliber of submissions, and the opportunity for the Lab community and the world to see Brookhaven’s research facilities in new ways.