ISSUED 10/30/97

Contact: Kara Villamil, or Mona S. Rowe




Bound for Experiment at BNL Atom Smasher


EVENT: The arrival of a six-ton, $10-million piece of scientific equipment for the atom smasher now under construction at Brookhaven National Laboratory.

The apparatus will arrive via a U.S. Air Force cargo plane.


WHEN: Thursday, November 6 (all times approximate)

7 a.m. - 10:30 a.m.
Landing of plane and unloading

11 a.m. - 1 p.m.
Truck with apparatus en route to BNL

1 p.m. - 3 p.m.
Unloading of truck at BNL

3 p.m. - 4 p.m.
Gathering to mark arrival (scientists available for interviews)


WHERE: Gabreski Airport, Westhampton to Brookhaven National Lab via County Road 31, County Road 104, Route 24, River Road, Wading River-Manorville Road, Route 25 and William Floyd Parkway.


DETAILS: The state-of-the-art apparatus, called a time projection chamber or TPC, is the largest detector of its kind in the world. It will be installed at Brookhaven's Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC) atom smasher as part of a house-sized experiment called STAR. Once there, it will act as a sort of "3-D camera" for subatomic particles, to help physicists in their quest to understand a form of matter that has not existed since shortly after the Big Bang.

Equipped with 138,000 channels of highly sophisticated electronics, the STAR TPC will capture the thousands of particles that will be created at RHIC after each head-on collision of speeding gold atoms. After recording tens of millions of bytes of information in the aftermath of each collision, the TPC's detectors and computers will be able to go "backwards in time," reconstructing the collision in three dimensions.

Because of its size and fragility, the STAR TPC will come to Long Island on a Galaxy C-5C cargo plane through a special agreement with the U.S. Air Force. It will arrive from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California, where it was designed and built over the past four years by more than 90 people from nine institutions. The TPC measures 4.2 meters (nearly 14 feet) long and 4.1 meters (13.5 feet) wide.

The STAR experiment is a collaboration of approximately 400 scientists and engineers from 33 institutions and laboratories in the U.S. and six foreign countries. It is one of four experiments at RHIC, which will be used by close to 900 scientists from 19 countries and 22 U.S. states when it begins smashing atoms in 1999.

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