May 2, 2003
The Soudan Underground Mine State Park (located just south of Lake Vermilion) is a popular place. The Parks’ underground tour is a unique and fascinating experience that takes you into the world of underground mining 2400 feet beneath ground level. If you have never taken the tour, you should take the time to do so. It is an unforgettable experience.
One fascinating portion of this subterranean world is a project associated with the University of Minnesota. The University has a high energy physics lab down there. One of the current lab experiments involves a sub-atomic particle called the neutrino. The project is called MINOS , or Main Injector Neutrino Oscillation Search.
Here’s a civilians’ explanation of the project. Please bear with me.
Neutrinos are small. Neutrinos are all around us. Trillions of neutrinos pass through our bodies every day. But neutrinos are loners. They rarely interact with other particles they pass through so they, consequently, do not leave a trace or cause any harm.
Here’s where MINOS comes in. The underground mine facility in Soudan is a prime place to build a detector to catch the elusive neutrino. And MINOS is doing just that. In fact, about 5000 tons of iron detector is now being built in an underground mine chamber. And here’s the kicker. That detector will, hopefully, catch neutrinos shot underneath the state of Wisconsin from an accelerator located outside of Chicago, Illinois! After they detect a neutrino, the hope is to learn more about these elusive particles.
If you would like to learn more about the MINOS Project, tomorrow offers a once-a-year opportunity. Free tours will be given on Saturday, May 3rd from 9AM until 4PM. The tours will start every 20 minutes and no State Park Pass will be needed.
In about a week we can forget about catching neutrinos and concentrate on catching walleyes. And no 5000 ton detector is required.