U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, today received an update from Dr. Nigel Lockyer, director of the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab), based in Batavia, Illinois, on the progress of the Long-Baseline Neutrino Facility (LBNF) that will facilitate the Deep Underground Neutrino Experiment (DUNE). The project will include facilities at Fermilab and the Sanford Underground Research Facility (SURF) in Lead, South Dakota, and will advance our understanding of neutrinos and particle physics. LBNF/DUNE will bring leading scientists, researchers, educators, and during construction from 2017-2023, an estimated $150 million in regional economic activity to the Black Hills.
Today’s meeting follows a separate meeting Thune held recently with Dr. France Córdova, director of the National Science Foundation, which provides research funding for the DUNE collaboration. Dr. Córdova also highlighted the importance of the project and the research opportunity it presents for the United States.
“LBNF/DUNE is a cutting-edge scientific research project that puts South Dakota in a leading role in neutrino science,” said Thune. “It’s good to hear that this project, which will bring jobs and an estimated $150 million in economic activity to South Dakota, is on track and ready to proceed as planned. The advancement of this type of research will have a worldwide impact, and it’s exciting that South Dakota can be a part of that.”
As part of LBNF/DUNE, Fermilab will send an intense beam of neutrinos 800 miles through the Earth’s mantle to a detector at SURF. The U.S. particle physics community identified the project as the highest priority domestic construction project, which will help ensure U.S. dominance in neutrino physics over the next 20 to 30 years. SURF is an ideal detector site for the project, as its underground depth will shield the experiment from the influence of cosmic radiation.
Earlier today, the 2015 Nobel Prize in physics was awarded to Dr. Takaaki Kajita of Japan and Dr. Arthur McDonald of Canada for their work with neutrinos, specifically a breakthrough discovery that neutrinos contain mass.