Subterranean Study Session

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Subterranean Study Session

What would it be like to descend 4,850 feet into the earth and discover a fascinating world of science?


Members of the ASBSD Board of Directors and Executive Director Wade Pogany did just that on a tour of the Sanford Underground Research Facility in Lead prior to the April meeting.


“It was an incredible experience to descend into the lab using the same shafts the Homestake miners used,” Pogany said. “When you reached the mile underground-level it was like an entire city of lights, science labs and experiments opened up.”


For more photos from the tour visit the ASBSD Facebook page.


ASBSD will work with the Sanford Lab to inform schools about the educational possibilities offered through outreach programs.


Sanford Director Ron Wheeler briefed the board on the experiments taking place in the former Homestake Mine. Two major physics experiments at the Sanford Lab are in progress underground in an area called the Davis Campus, named for the late Ray Davis.


The Large Underground Xenon (LUX) experiment is operating and is described on the facility’s website as being “the most sensitive detector yet to search for dark matter—a mysterious, yet-to-be-detected substance thought to be the most prevalent matter in the universe.”


The second major experiment, the Majorana Demonstrator experiment, will search for a rare phenomenon called “neutrinoless double-beta decay” that could reveal whether subatomic particles called neutrinos can be their own antiparticle.


Board members also visited with Dr. Ben Sayler, Professor of Science and Mathematics at Black Hills State University and the director of education outreach for the Sanford Lab.


Dr. Sayler talked about how South Dakota, and U.S., schools can connect with the lab and scientists to learn about the experiments being conducted in the lab.


Board members were also able to meet scientists from Yale, Stanford and Great Britain who talked about their experiments.


“It’s amazing that an international group of people conducting experiments that could lead to findings about the universe are working a mile underground in Lead, South Dakota,” ASBSD President Pam Haukaas said.


For updates on the association’s collaboration with the Sanford Underground Research Facility check the ASBSD blog.

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