Neutrino trading cards a hit at Fermilab’s Open House

The full set of neutrino trading cards at Fermilab’s Open House. Credit: M.Hronek

Leon Lederman or Willie Mays? Although the mid-20th century “golden age” of collecting baseball cards — the classic American hobby — is long past, kids still like picture cards. The neutrino trading cards were a big hit at the Neutrino Campus during Fermilab’s Open House on September 23rd. A few particularly avid young visitors succeeded in collecting all 24.

Lots of DUNE and LBNF folks were on hand for this event, both in and around the Neutrino Campus and off in other locations loading buses, selling T-shirts, answering questions and sharing their passion for science with a public eager to get an inside glimpse of the of this lab that they find somewhat mysterious.

“We were the last stop on the blue bus route,” said Sarah Lockwitz, who spent the day boosting the popularity of purity monitors and HV feedthroughs.  “During the first hour or so, while empty buses were completing their route after dropping passengers at earlier stops, a lone visitor from the Czech consulate stepped off the bus here.  He got the most in-depth, five-on-one tour of the day.  Soon after that, it was a whirl.”

Sarah Lockwitz, far right, explains purity monitors and high-voltage feedthroughs. Credit: Fermilab

While most visitors were from the greater Chicago area, some people traveled from much farther away.

“We wouldn’t miss it,” said one visitor from Michigan. “We left home at 5:00 this morning.”

Maxine Hronek, who was staffing the DUNE tent, had a visitor from as far away as Denver, CO. For Amanda Mall, at the ICARUS display, the farthest traveler came from Minnesota. One Fermilab scientist’s family (likely proud of and curious about their son’s accomplishments) traveled all the way from Alabama.

“The kids loved the hands-on “send neutrinos to SURF” display we setup,” said Hronek. “We had this at Neutrino Day as well. People were very excited about DUNE and quite a few of them knew about DUNE before they came to the table.”

Anne Schukraft tells a young visitor about equipment liquid argon experiments use to make sure that sensitive neutrino detectors are properly grounded. Other volunteers (in orange) from left are Andy Mastbaum, Bill Badgett and Alberto Marchionni. Credit: Fermilab

Sam Zeller had several people ask to shadow her or come back to the lab for another tour.

“One physics student with unclear career goals said that he was ‘invigorated after coming to Fermilab’ and wants to shadow some physicists who specialize in IT,” she said. “Another young woman was ‘floored’ to see so many women staffing the tables in the Neutrino Campus. She asked a lot of questions and will be coming back to the lab to shadow some scientists and engineers next month — she wants to ‘learn how to build cool things like they do.’”

Zeller may have just helped populate the field for the next “golden age” of particle physics. Let’s get her face on a trading card!

Also see Fermilab on Display in Symmetry, 28 September 2017 — lots of pictures!