Move of BNL's 14-ton electromagnet begins

The U.S. Department of Energy's Brookhaven National Laboratory began moving Saturday the 14-ton electromagnetic ring, which is used to help study the properties of subatomic particles, from Upton to the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Illinois, which is better equipped for the ring's use. The ring's four- to five-week trip will be by barge, a more steady method of travel, because the ring can get damaged if it wobbles as much as an eighth of an inch. Videojournalist: Stringer News (June 22, 2013)

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The crawl has begun.

The U.S. Department of Energy's Brookhaven National Laboratory Saturday began moving the 14-ton electromagnetic ring from Upton to the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Illinois, which is better equipped for the ring's use.

The process will take four to five weeks, depending on weather. It does not present a danger to the public because it is not attached to any electrical power, said Peter Genzer, spokesman for Brookhaven Lab.

Yesterday morning, the ring -- constructed of aluminum, steel and superconducting coils -- sat in a stable frame, covered in shrink wrap as a truck pulled it through the lab's 5,300-acre property.

The setup helps prevent damage to the equipment that can result if the ring wobbles as little as an eighth of an inch, according to Chris Polly, project manager with Fermi. The muon storage ring helps study the properties of tiny subatomic particles.

"Serious preparation for this project began about four years ago . . . what makes this so difficult is the fact that the ring is 50 feet in diameter, it doesn't come apart and we don't want it to flex any more than 3 millimeters," Polly said.

The truck -- traveling at a maximum speed of 10 mph -- will move the ring to the edge of the Brookhaven Lab property just before William Floyd Parkway. Tomorrow at 12:15 a.m., it is expected to be driven six miles to Smith Point Park on the Atlantic Ocean.

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From there, it will continue its circuitous 3,200-mile trek, on the ocean and up the Mississippi River in what has been described as the largest move in the lab's history. With dozens of lab staffers involved, it is costing taxpayers $3 million.

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