Brookhaven National Laboratory is celebrating two milestone anniversaries in 2017: 70 years since the Laboratory's founding in 1947 and a century since the 1917 founding of Camp Upton, the former U.S. Army base located where the Lab operates today.
To honor these milestone anniversaries, all that has been accomplished, and the Laboratory's ongoing explorations at the frontiers of scientific discovery, Brookhaven Science Associates (BSA) is sponsoring an essay contest for high school students in Suffolk and Nassau counties in New York—with an opportunity to win $500. BSA manages Brookhaven Lab for the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Science.
To enter, students should write an essay that answers this question:
"With seven decades of discovery behind us, what’s your vision for the future? Select one of the Camp Upton/Brookhaven National Laboratory iconic images provided. Using examples of events and discoveries associated with the image over the past 70 years, make the case for how this work has affected your life, Long Island, or the nation—and where the research may go in the future."
The ten iconic images of Camp Upton and Brookhaven National Laboratory are provided below. A panel of judges at the Laboratory will select the three essays that best answer the question. Prizes are $500, $250, $100 for first, second, and third place, respectively. The first-place winner will be invited to read her/his essay during the annual Long Island STEM Hub celebration on Tuesday, April 18, at Brookhaven Lab.
The deadline for submissions is Friday, March 24. Winners will be notified Wednesday, April 12. Details on rules, eligibility, and how to enter are available here.
Iconic Images from Our Exciting History of Discovery and Service
1. Camp Upton
The area of central Suffolk County presently occupied by Brookhaven National Laboratory once served the nation in a different manner. It was the site of the U.S. Army's
Camp Upton, which was active from 1917 until 1920, and again from 1940 until 1946. During both world wars,
new soldiers trained and prepared at Camp Upton for major combat campaigns overseas. The Army later used the site as a convalescent and rehabilitation hospital for wounded
veterans returning after World War II.
2. AGS Magnets
A dedicated scientist sitting alone among a sea of desks? Actually, the “desks” were a new type of magnet waiting to be installed in Brookhaven’s
Alternating Gradient Synchrotron (AGS) in 1958. The magnetic fields generated by these magnets successively alternated inward and outward, squeezing beams of charged particles both
horizontally and vertically. This “strong focusing” principle, invented at Brookhaven, allowed the AGS (and many future accelerators) to reach high energies while keeping
its size and cost within reasonable limits. Experiments at the AGS led to three Nobel Prizes in physics.
3. First Video Game
In 1961, chemists at Brookhaven National Laboratory studied how to detect small brain tumors by analyzing the decay of radioactive material injected into the patient's bloodstream and preferentially
absorbed by the tumor. To help them, Brookhaven’s Instrumentation Division built different arrays of detectors, and this circular type, a precursor to modern “positron emission tomography” (PET)
scanners proved best. In the 1970's, Brookhaven chemists helped develop the PET radiotracer that is now used worldwide for neuroscience and cancer imaging, leading to decades of breakthroughs in the
study drug and alcohol addiction, obesity and eating disorders, and other areas.
5. Homestake Mine
About a mile under solid rock in South Dakota's Homestake Gold Mine, Brookhaven chemist Raymond Davis, Jr. set up a perchloroethylene-filled detector in 1967. His goal was to measure
neutrinos—nearly-impossible-to-detect, short-lived particles then postulated to be generated in naturally occurring nuclear reactions in the sun. The detector was located deep underground
to shield it from cosmic rays and it produced the first evidence of solar neutrinos as they interacted with chlorine in the tank to produce a few atoms of radioactive argon. Davis won the
Nobel Prize in Physics for his discovery (in 2002), but because his experiment only detected about a third of the
predicted number of neutrinos, it set off a decades-long search for the missing particles.
6. 7-Foot Bubble Chamber
This electronic marvel is a superconducting magnet for a particle detector known as a bubble chamber, under construction in 1968.
It was installed at Brookhaven’s Alternating Gradient Synchrotron (AGS), and detected the paths of particles created in experiments
using the AGS’s energetic particle beams. Cameras captured trails of bubbles created as these particles passed through the liquid-hydrogen-filled chamber, with the tracks’ curvature in the magnetic
field leaving telltale clues about the particles’ identities.
7. STAR Tracks
These are the tracks of thousands of subatomic particles streaming from a collision of two gold nuclei at Brookhaven’s Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC),
as captured by RHIC’s STAR detector when RHIC first turned on in 2000. The tracks convey information about the particles created in the collisions, which recreate the conditions of the very early
universe. Scientists study them to learn about how the fundamental building blocks of matter interacted at the dawn of time, and eventually formed everything we see in the universe today.
8. Lithium in Batteries
What appear to be lovely autumn leaves are actually the dendritic sprawl of lithium growing inside a battery. Brookhaven scientists used a state-of-the-art electron microscope at the
Center for Functional Nanomaterials (CFN) to study the emergence of these atomic structures, which cause batteries to wear out. Mapping what goes wrong on this fundamental
(and tiny) scale could lead to new and improved nanotechnology for everything from smartphones to electric vehicles.
9. Bright New Light Source
In 2015, Brookhaven opened a brand new National Synchrotron Light Source II (NSLS-II, large circular building), which generates extremely bright x-rays and other forms of light scientists use
to study the structure and inner workings of everything from batteries to solar cells, proteins, and superconductors. NSLS-II's x-ray beams are 10,000 times brighter than its predecessor facility,
NSLS (the smaller circular building upper left), which operated from 1982 until 2014. NSLS-II is opening up new frontiers for discovery in physics, chemistry, medicine, and more.
10. Antireflective Solar Cell
This is an image of a silicon surface “etched” at the nanoscale in a way that promises to improve the efficiency of silicon solar cells. It was created in 2015 at Brookhaven’s Center for Functional Nanomaterials
(CFN), a facility where scientists study materials at the ultra-small nanoscale, which is measured in billionths of a meter. This etched texture lets light of any wavelength from any angle pass into the silicon with no
reflection so more light can be converted into electricity. The texture also repels water so droplets roll or bounce off, cleaning dirt from the surface. The goal is super-efficient, self-cleaning solar cells.