LEAD, SD— Under a mile of rock, in a cleanroom, behind a thick shield of lead brick, detectors made of germanium crystals listen carefully for near-imperceptible signals of radioactivity. No, it’s not science fiction; it’s the low background counting facility at Sanford Underground Research Facility (Sanford Lab). And this February, you’re invited to take a virtual tour of this subatomic laboratory at “Deep Talks: How low can you go?”
On Thursday, Feb. 11, from 6 to 7 p.m. MT, Dr. Brianna Mount will start this event by discussing the science of radiation. Though we normally think of radiation in the context of X-ray machines and nuclear power sources, everything—from mountains to lightbulbs to dust bunnies—gives off some radiation.
“At Deep Talks, I’m going to talk about radiation—what it is in general and how it contributes to the background ‘noise’ all around us,” said Mount, an assistant professor of physics at Black Hills State University (BHSU) and director of the low background counting facility at Sanford Lab. “Then, I’ll talk about how our low background counting facility helps particle physics experiments, at Sanford Lab and elsewhere, keep their radiation backgrounds low.”
After this introduction, Mount will give a live virtual tour of the BHSU Underground Campus (BHUC) nearly a mile underground at Sanford Lab. Our audience will see the cleanroom on the 4850 Level; the detector shielding made of thick lead bricks; the systems that circulate super-cold liquid nitrogen through detectors; and even a germanium crystal inside a low background counter. Ayla Rodriguez, a physical science and math major at BHSU, will join Mount to explain how a specific configuration of lead brick shielding can reduce backgrounds even further.
Attendees can join this free event via Zoom webinar to answer polls and submit questions for speakers or watch live on Sanford Lab's Facebook page. Webinar space is limited, and early registration is encouraged.
This event is part of Sanford Lab’s Deep Talks lecture series, a monthly series ushering scientific discussions into the public sphere. In the 2020-2021 season, Deep Talks will bring voices from the international scientific community to your home through our virtual format. The Deep Talks lecture series is sponsored by Chuck and Jolene Lichtenwalner, Crow Peak Brewing Company, RCS Construction and Northern Hills Federal Credit Union.
Sanford Lab is operated by the South Dakota Science and Technology Authority (SDSTA) with funding from the Department of Energy. Our mission is to advance world class science and inspire learning across generations. Visit Sanford Lab at www.SanfordLab.org.