SURF’s star-stuffed Neutrino Day

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Courtesy SURF

(Adapted from “It’s a star stuffed Neutrino Day,” Deep Thoughts)

Sanford Lab’s Neutrino Day 2016 celebrated the star stuff in all of us through activities, presentations, an art competition and displays. Presentations and videoconferences ranged from the NASA 2030 Mars Experience, to dark matter, to neutrinos, to the composition of the universe.

More than 1,100 people attended the events, which included videoconferences from the underground with the Emergency Response Team and the CASPAR experiment (Compact Accelerator System for Performing Astrophyical Research), which is studying nuclear fusion in stars.

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Elizabeth Worcester of DUNE speaking at the Rapid City Opera House. Photo Samantha Gorder

Steve Rokusek has been a staple of Neutrino Day for several years and is one of the biggest draws, introducing children to advanced science in a way that inspires and excites. His “wild science” demonstrations included making clouds out of nitrogen and bubbles, which helps kids learn about the otherwise complicated physics of natural phenomenon.

At the Opera House, Elizabeth Worcester, member of the Deep Underground Neutrino Experiment, or DUNE, focused her presentation on neutrinos and how DUNE and the Long-Baseline Neutrino Facility (LBNF) will search for these ghost-like particles. Dan McKinsey, co-spokesperson for the Large Underground Xenon (LUX) experiment discussed dark matter and the next generation detector, LUX-ZEPLIN, which will replace LUX at Sanford Lab.

At the Sanford Lab Homestake Visitor Center, David Vardiman, geotechnical project engineer at Sanford Lab, gave a geology demonstration that drew children and adults alike. Vardiman focused on the differences between mining for gold and building large caverns for big science experiments. “The response from children was amazing,” he said. “They loved seeing the fossils, gold samples and geotechnical cores. That was really the highlight of the demonstration.”